Ely: Bishops and Diocese: 1109-2009
Edited by Peter Meadows
406 Page, Hardback
Despite its size, Ely has always been one of the most wealthy and important dioceses in the country. The essays here focus on the careers of its bishops, with additional chapters on its buildings and holdings. The diocese of Ely formed out of the huge diocese of Lincoln, was established in 1109 in St Etheldreda's Isle of Ely, and the ancient Abbey became Ely Cathedral Priory. Covering at first only the Isle and Cambridgeshire, it grew immensely in 1837 with the addition of Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire and West Suffolk. The latter two counties left the diocese in 1914, but a substantial part of West Norfolk was added soon after.
Until the nineteenth century, Ely was one of the wealthiest dioceses in the country, and in every century there were notable appointments to the bishopric. Few of the bishops were promoted elsewhere; for most, it was the culmination of their career, and many had made significant contributions, both to national life and to scholarship, before their preferment to Ely. They included men of the calibre of Lancelot Andrewes in the seventeenth century, the renowned book collector John Moorein the eighteenth, and James Russell Woodford, founder of the Theological College, in the nineteenth.
In essays each spanning about a century, experts in the field explore the lives and careers of its bishops, their families and social contacts, examine their impact on the diocese, and their role in the wider Church in England. Other chapters consider such areas as the estates, the residences, the works of art and the library and archives. Overall, they chart the remarkable development over nine hundred years of one of the smallest, richest and youngest of the traditional dioceses of England.
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