Stood on the Roof of Ely Cathedral

Ely is one of those places I've been meaning to go for years. I've been through it a few times, on the train, and apparently I went as a kid with my parents (I don't remember it, though). I really wanted to visit the Cathedral and the famous Peacocks Tearoom.

As part of my Last Weekend Before School, I decided Ely was on the agenda. Interestingly, all the parking in town is free, which also meant that it was exceptionally crowded. Interesting for city planners to keep in mind...

These are the massive front doors to the Cathedral. For scale, the human-size door is the bottom three panels on the left side.

I'm starting the MBA on Friday this week (!!) and so don't have my student ID yet. I asked if I could pay the student price anyway and the woman at the desk was very gracious and said yes. Sweet!

The stained glass museum was closed for renovations this week, but the stained glass in the Cathedral was really spectacular. The colours were so vivid and the patterns were really intricate.

I decided to take the Octagon Tower tour, which meant that we climbed all the way up to the roof. The original Norman tower over the crossing fell down in the 13th century, and was replaced by this soaring masterpiece. Note the row of angels between where the arches meet the lantern and the stained glass. You'll see them again in a bit.

The lantern at the top is supported by enormous oak beams:

This was from the catwalk across the roof, looking up towards the central lantern. I will admit that my knees were a little quivery.

Looking out over Ely:

The inside of the lantern support:

So those angels from before? They're each painted on individually opening panel doors. They are also painted with bizarrely long legs, so they look correctly proportioned when viewed from below.


Super-tall angel.

A fellow tour member:

The very top of the lantern:

Then we went outside onto the roof. It was extremely cold and windy but really beautiful. 

The Fens are SO FLAT (Ely used to be an island before the Fens were drained).

There are no bells at the top of the lantern. There used to be but apparently they made the whole thing shake like crazy and were taken out by the Victorians. Smart move, guys.

Back on terra firma:

The cathedral truly dominates the town (and the countryside for miles around).

I'd read that Peacocks Tearoom was the place to eat. There was about a 15 minute wait (apparently it's crazy in the summer), and there was definitely a huge queue of people when I left.


I didn't actually have any tea (I'm aware that I just lost some BritPoints), but I did have Welsh Rabbit (nothing to do with's a toasty cheese) followed by a delicious slice of carrot cake and washed down with some ginger beer. I felt a little bit like I was in an Enid Blyton novel.

Oh, fine, one more picture of the Cathedral.

And then, I went to Topping Books, where they had a huge selection of signed first editions, and treated myself to the new Eva Ibbotson (written after her death by her son).

I can heartily recommend a visit to Ely!