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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.

St Etheldreda 2023 event booklet


2023 Events

Mini Exhibition in St Etheldreda’s Chapel

Throughout 2023
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.

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Friday 31 March - Monday 1 May
In the 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.

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Saturday 3 June
Palace Green (opposite the Cathedral)

A craft and food fair in aid of the Ely Cathedral Choristers' Choir Tour Fund.

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Threads Through Creation - Exhibition

Wednesday 14 June - Wednesday 26 July
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.

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Wednesday 21 June, 4pm (Please be seated by 3.45pm)
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.

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, 2.30pm
Schools’ Service

A short service for school children to celebrate our remarkable founding Saint. By invitation.

Saturday 24 June, noon
St Etheldreda 1350 Celebratory Eucharist
The Bishop of Ely invites members of all parishes in the Diocese to this anniversary celebration service.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York will preach.
The Bishop of Ely will preside.
British Sign Language interpreted.

Sunday 25 June, 10.30am
Festal Eucharist

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.

Tawdry Exhibition by Sophie Neville

Friday 7 - Monday 31 July
In the Prior's Door

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.
Entry included with Cathedral admission ticket or pass.

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Saturday 29 July, 11am, 1pm & 2.30pm
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)

Saxon Fair

Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 July, 10am - 4.30pm
On Cross Green

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.
Free Entry.

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Iceni Botanical Artists Art Exhibition

Friday 29 September - Friday 13 October
Celebrating the life of Queen Etheldreda: Herbals and Harvest
in the Lady Chapel

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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
Festal Evensong

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.


Other events are taking place at the Stained Glass Museum, Ely Museum and Oliver Cromwell's House throughout the year.

21 January - 18 June
Burial of a Princess?
at Ely Museum
Treasures from a Saxon Cemetery in Ely

8 May
Burial of a Princess? Excavations at Westfield, Ely
at Ely Museum
A talk by Dr Sam Lucy, Newnham College, University of Cambridge

23 May
A Tawdry Tale: Translating Etheldreda
at Ely Museum
A talk by Dr Charles Moseley, author of ‘Etheldreda’s World’

13 June
The Liber Eliensis: a 12th century history of the Isle of Ely
at Ely Museum

A talk by Dr Elizabeth Stazicker, Hon Archivist to Ely Cathedral

St Etheldreda souvenirs are available from our online shop, including a pilgrim badge, books, bookmarks, hanging ornaments, coasters and magnets.

St. Etheldreda

The history of St Etheldreda

Find out more