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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ely Cathedral–The Octagonal or Lantern Tower


Looking up into the Lantern Tower from the centre of the Cathedral.

As promised in my last blog, this is all about the Octagonal or Lantern Tower of Ely Cathedral. The tower was built in  1322  to replace the original Norman Tower which collapsed. The construction of the Lantern is an amazing feat of Medieval architecture, and is constructed of wood, supported by 8 massive stone pillars.




The tower is in the centre of the cathedral, to stand underneath this amazing construction is just awe inspiring. We had booked a tour of the tower when we first arrived at the Cathedral, and I have to say it was well worth the wait, I was just amazed….it does seem that I am being drawn to climbing up towers in Cathedrals and churches, I just love seeing what is behind the facade of these buildings. Last year St. Pauls (that was a real feat for me, over 500 steps up to the top, but wow it was worth the climb. Ely this time, Bath Abbey a few weeks ago, it is one way to keep fit LOL)


On the roof of the Cathedral.


Looking down on the Lady Chapel.


Some of the gargoyles Smile


We climbed up a spiral staircase and emerged outside, at roof level, the roof to the right of us, a metal barrier to the left, and oh the view! We had time to take some photos, then went through a tiny space and we were inside the Octagonal Tower, behind the angel paintings. From here we could see the construction of the tower, and although there has been a lot of restoration some of the original medieval beams are still in place!


Inside the Lantern, these are not the Medieval timbers.


Some of the timbers you can see under these are Medieval.


The back of the painted Angel panels are on the left of this photo.

The angel panels are Victorian, they surround the interior of the lantern under the stained glass windows. Our guide opened the doors of a few of the angel panels, so we could see (and photo!) the beautifully decorated ceiling and look down to the floor of the Cathedral.


The angels, with some of the doors open so we can look up and down!!


Looking up…..


…and again….


….up again….


…and down…


The centre of the Cathedral from the tower.


The Choir and just visible, the High Altar.

We then went up a further staircase and emerged on the roof, above the angel paintings, level with the stained glass windows. As said before the lantern is constructed of wood, this is covered on the outside with lead cladding, and a parapet of stone surrounds the roof. I was amazed at what we were seeing, and so glad we had gone up there. It was also great getting up close with the gargoyles, to think they have been up there for hundreds of years, probably with very few people seeing them tells me of the pride of the builders of this wonderful building, and the skill of those medieval builders.


On the roof..


Close up to the tower.


Looking towards the West Tower



the stained glass windows which are above the Angel panels.



I love this one!



If any of you are ever in Cambridgeshire I can thoroughly recommend climbing the Octagonal Tower, you will be very pleased that you did. Now I want to visit Wells Cathedral and a few others…..


The angel panels just because I love them!



Have a wonderful weekend, take care all of you x



Saturday, 22 October 2011

Ely Cathedral – The Ship of The Fens


The Lantern Tower


Just one of the beautiful stained glass windows in the Cathedral.

I have wanted to visit Ely Cathedral for a very long time, and was thrilled when my husband took me up there in July. We left home early one morning and arrived in Ely about 11.30. The Cathedral appears across the Fens as you drive towards the city, looking exactly like a ship which is the reason for its nickname.


The front of the Cathedral.

A lovely place for a picnic on a sunny day.


The main door into the building.


We drove into the first car park we came too because the navigator (me) missed the turning to the Park and Ride….imagine our surprise to find that, not only is Ely a tiny little city but the car parking is free, which made a good start to our day. We could see the Cathedral over the rooftops so we walked into the City Centre. Ely (Island of the Eels) has a very peaceful atmosphere, and because of its size bears no resemblance to any other city that I know.


The sight that greets you as you enter the Cathedral.


A side Chapel with wonderful flags many of them very old.


I am standing under the Lantern Tower here looking back to the entrance.


One of the side aisles – the roof was brightly painted at one stage.

A cup of coffee was the most important thing on the agenda, we found a lovely little cafe, which backed onto the Cathedral Green, so we could feast our eyes while satisfying our thirst!!



You can just see the remains of the ceiling painting in this photo.


Just breath taking!


Wonderful ceiling decoration.

The Cathedral is a wonderful building with two towers, the Octagon Tower and the  West Tower. Originally there was a Norman Central Tower which fell down in 1322 and was replaced by The Octagon Tower, which is an unique structure, and is awe inspiring to see.


The modern cross at the West end of the Cathedral, showing the irregular path that each of us takes through life.


Looking up, the South West transept, wonderful architecture.



An amazing Norman archway.

We spent some time wandering around the Cathedral and booked the tour round the Octagon Tower for later in the day. The tours round the West Tower were going to be too late for us, so sadly we did not get to see that tower, but we were assured that the Octagon Tower was the best one to go round.


Looking through The Choir to the main Altar.


The Altar.


Looking back to the entrance from the Altar. You can just see where the Octagon Tower is at the top of this photo, more about that in the next blog.


The pulpit.


Looking down the South Choir Aisle towards the entrance.

As usual with my blogs I am going to let my photos so the talking, but I have decided to do two blogs on this amazing building, the next blog will show you the inside (and outside) of the Lantern Tower, as we go on a tour.


The Lady Chapel, the largest Lady Chapel I have seen, and it is the largest one attached to any British cathedral.


The doorway from the Lady Chapel, looking along the Processional Way which leads back into the main part of the Cathedral.


beautifully enclosed spiral staicase.


The organ in the Choir.


By the Altar.


The carving above The Prior’s Door


And one of the two figures guarding the doorway.