St Etheldreda 1350
Celebrating 1350 years of Ely’s Foundation
2023 marks 1350 years since St Etheldreda first established a monastery in Ely in AD 673.
To mark this significant occasion, we are celebrating the life and legacy of this remarkable Saxon Queen with a year-long programme of events, concerts, services and exhibits.
Highlights include a new guided tour focussing on Etheldreda’s time in Ely, a visual interpretation depicting the four key stages of her life from East Anglian Princess to Anglo Saxon Saint, and a live performance of a newly commissioned play.
In celebration of St Etheldreda’s Day in June the Archbishop of York will join us for a Diocesan service and a special floral display will adorn her shrine area. Further commemorative services will be held in October as we mark the feast of the Translation of Etheldreda
The Cathedral Choir will perform alongside Britten Sinfonia for a gala concert of Handel’s Messiah, plus some beautifully staged Son et Lumière evenings towards the end of the year.
Other events across the city will bring the community together to commemorate this historic anniversary year for Ely.
From 6 February
Mini Exhibition in St Etheldreda’s Chapel
A small-scale exhibition highlighting the four key stages of the life of St Etheldreda, founder of Ely - East Anglian Princess - Queen of Northumbria - Abbess of Ely - Anglo Saxon Saint.
Entry included with Cathedral admission ticket or pass.
Friday 31 March- Thursday 27 April
The Last Supper Exhibition by Silvy Weatherall
The Lady Chapel
Renowned artist Silvy Weatherall primarily works with objects that are broken or unusable. These life-size busts of Jesus and the Apostles are created from crockery fragments joined together in gold.
Entry included with Cathedral admission ticket or pass.
Saturday 3 June
Etheldreda Craft & Food Fair
Palace Green (opposite the Cathedral)
A craft and food fair in aid of the Ely Cathedral Choristers' Choir Tour Fund.
Wednesday 14 June - Wednesday 26 July
Threads Through Creation - Exhibition
Creating the world with eight million stitches! A breath-taking exhibition of twelve enormous, embroidered silk panels that explore the story of Creation.
Entry included with Cathedral admission ticket or pass
Wednesday 21 June, 4pm
BBC Choral Evensong
A Festal Evensong sung by the full Cathedral Choir in celebration of the Cathedral 1350th anniversary is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Please be seated by 3.45pm
Friday 23 - Monday 26 June
St Etheldreda in Flowers
A celebration of the life of St Etheldreda in floral displays, created by the Cathedral Flower Guild.
Friday 23 June, 4pm
A short service for school children to celebrate our remarkable founding Saint. By invitation.
Saturday 24 June, noon
Diocesan Festal Eucharist
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, will be presiding and preaching. The Bishop of Ely invites members of all parishes in the Diocese to this anniversary celebration service.
Sunday 25 June, 10.30am
Now our hymn to God upraising, sing we of a Queen’s amazing lowliness of mind today. Join the Cathedral Congregation in this Eucharistic celebration of St Etheldreda.
Sunday 25 June, 4pm
Festal Evensong and Procession
The Dean of Ely has invited all churches and chapels named in honour of St Etheldreda to join in this Ecumenical service along with friends from Christian churches of all denominations in and round our city. Newly commissioned music by Janet Wheeler will be sung at this service.
Friday 7 - Monday 31 July
Tawdry Exhibition by Sophie Neville
Tawdry is a series of wearable crochet lace artworks created alongside a series of craft and discussion workshops with women in Ely. It uses the story of St Etheldreda as a lens through which to view how ideas and perceptions of taste impact women's lives.
Saturday 29 July, performances throughout the day, outdoors in The Dean's Garden
Etheldreda - A Saint for All Seasons*
As the Christian Church established itself in Saxon England, noblewomen played a crucial role. Join Time Will Tell Theatre as they tell the incredible story of Etheldreda, from her East Anglian roots, through war and loss, to marriage and Queenship, to the realisation of her greatest achievement - the building of a religious house on the Isle of Ely!
Tickets: £10 per person. £25 for a family of 4 (2 adults & 2 children under 16). On sale from May.
Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 July, 10am - 4.30pm
Join Ely Cathedral and Ealdfaeder for a truly Saxon experience. The Saxon group will be setting up camp on Cross Green over the weekend and will be sharing stories, crafts, entertainments and weapons with visitors. There will be opportunities to listen to the Saxon storyteller, watch spear dances and find out more about life in Saxon England. There will be stalls demonstrating and selling traditional crafts.
Friday 29 September - Friday 13 October
Iceni Botanical Artists Art Exhibition
Celebrating the life of Queen Etheldreda: Herbals and Harvest
in the Lady Chapel
From October onwards
St Etheldreda Banner Project
St Catherine’s Chapel
Explore the life of St Etheldreda through the eyes of children from throughout the Diocese of Ely. Schools and home educated children were invited to design panels showing key events in the life of St Etheldreda as part of an education project at the beginning of 2022. Twelve of these designs are being created into a set of hanging applique panels by the Ely Cathedral Broderers, thanks to generous sponsorship from the Cook family in loving memory of Rita and John McDermott and the Tann family.
Saturday 7 October, 7pm
Ely Cathedral Choir is joined by leading professional orchestra Britten Sinfonia to perform Handel’s timeless masterpiece.
Tickets: £15 - £40. On sale from June.
Sunday 15 October, 10.30am
Festal Eucharist - The Saints of Ely
Preacher: Professor Rosalind Love, British historian, medievalist and academic.
Monday 16 October, 5.30pm
First Evensong of the Translation of St Etheldreda
Choral Evensong sung by the Girl Choristers of Ely Cathedral. The Feast of the Saints of Ely is that of Seaxburh, Saint Etheldreda’s sister; Ermenilda, Seaxburh’s daughter; Werburga, the daughter of Ermenilda (all of whom were abbesses in Ely) and Withburga who is traditionally held to be a sister or kinswoman of St Etheldreda.
Tuesday 17 October, 5.30pm
Preacher: The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle MBE, Dean of Westminster. Join the College of Canons of Ely Cathedral for this special Choral Evensong sung by the Boy Choristers.
Monday 20 & Tuesday 21 November, 7.15pm
Son et Lumière*
A beautiful and exciting sequence of music sung by the Cathedral Choir, recounting the story of the Cathedral over more than a millennium, combines with atmospheric light effects in a darkened building.
Tickets: £6. On sale from September.
The St Etheldreda Tour
A new guided tour for 2023 will focus on Etheldreda’s dramatic life. More information here
View an interactive map of churches and chapels dedicated to Etheldreda here
The St Etheldreda Trail
This trail highlights just some of the images of St Etheldreda in the Cathedral today. She is usually portrayed wearing a crown and nun’s robes, and holding an Abbess’ crozier (staff), a book or a model of a church.Download
Other events are taking place at the Stained Glass Museum, Ely Museum and Oliver Cromwell's House throughout the year.
21 January - 18 June
at Ely Museum
Burial of a Princess? Treasures from a Saxon Cemetery in Ely
1 February - 8 April
at The Stained Glass Museum
St Etheldreda Stained Glass Display
A temporary exhibition of a stained glass panel depicting Etheldreda from the museum’s reserve collection, and originally from the now redundant Church dedicated to St Etheldreda in Coldham, Cambridgeshire.
at Ely Museum
Burial of a Princess? Excavations at Westfield, Ely
A talk by Dr Sam Lucy, Newnham College, University of Cambridge
A St Etheldreda pilgrim badge, book, bookmark and hanging ornament are available from our online shop