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Ely Cathedral

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO

WITH OVER 1300 YEARS' OF HISTORY AND SO MUCH TO SEE AT ELY CATHEDRAL, IT CAN BE HARD TO KNOW WHERE TO START. YOU MIGHT LIKE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE 'ELY CATHEDRAL APP' TO HELP PLAN YOUR VISIT. WE ALSO HAVE A RANGE OF GUIDEBOOKS AND CHILDREN'S TRAILS AVAILABLE. IN THE MEANTIME, HERE ARE OUR 'TOP 10' SUGGESTIONS TO HELP....

  1. Marvel at the Octagon tower and lantern. One of the wonders of the medieval world, this incredible structure, suspended high over the centre of the Cathedral, was completed in 1342. To climb the 170 steps inside the lantern and explore further, book on one of our 'Octagon Tower Tours' (ages 10+, see 'Tower Tours' for availability and prices).
  2. Experience the light and space of the Lady Chapel. Started in 1321 and taking 28 years to complete, this chapel is the largest of its kind in England, with intricate carvings and an elaborate vaulted roof. Although damaged in the C16th at the Reformation, the Lady Chapel today offers a beautiful space and amazing acoustic.
  3. Explore the Choir and Presbytery. Extended in the C13th, this was once the most holy part of the Cathedral. Its rich decoration was lavishly restored in the C19th. You'll find medieval misericords and ceiling bosses, and, around the choir aisle, ornately carved memorials and tombs.
  4. Enjoy the skilful colours and designs of the stained glass windows. Ely Cathedral has over 100 C19th windows, including many by the most well-known stained glass artists of the time. On a sunny day, light through the windows floods onto the stonework, filling the building with colour.
  5. Climb the 288 spiral stairs to the top of the West Tower (ages 10+, see 'Tower Tours' for availability and prices). Our knowledgeable guide will lead you through the history of the Cathedral, and at the top of the tower you'll be rewarded with spectacular views across Ely and the East Anglian countryside.
  6. Pause a while and soak in the atmosphere. Enjoy the beauty of the Norman Nave with its unique C19th painted ceiling, take time out to sit in one of the side chapels, or stop to light a candle, perhaps for someone you care about or for something on your mind.
  7. Visit the Stained Glass Museum and learn about the history and art of stained glass. Housed upstairs in the Cathedral, this is the only museum of its kind in the UK. It showcases exhibits from the C13th to the present day.
  8. Follow in the paths of medieval monks as you explore the lovely grounds and medieval precinct. The Benedictine monastery was closed in 1539, but many of the buildings survived and are still used today. Download the free Ely Cathedral App or ask for a leaflet at the Welcome Desks about the monastery trail.
  9. Relax over a drink and treat yourself to one of our delicious home-made cakes or scones. There is a small Refectory Café in the Cathedral itself, or a short stroll through the grounds leads to the Almonry Restaurant and Tea Rooms, with its spectacular views of the Cathedral from its gardens.
  10. Experience the beauty of the English choral tradition. Choral Evensong usually takes place at 5.30pm (4pm on Sundays). Visitors are welcome at services - check the Cathedral calendar to see what services are taking place.