Background and some history
Praise of God resounds through Ely Cathedral every day. Worship has been offered on the site for nearly 1400 years and the Cathedral continues to be a dynamic witness to the presence of God in the world and of his love and care for each and every one of us.
It is the 'mother church' of the Diocese of Ely and the Bishop of Ely has a Seat of Authority at Ely Cathedral.
The Cathedral was founded as a monastery in 673 by St. Etheldreda, a Saxon Princess from East Anglia, the site of whose shrine is in front of the High Altar. Work on the present Cathedral began in the 11th century under the leadership of Abbot Simeon, and the monastic church became a cathedral in 1109 with the Diocese of Ely being carved out of the Diocese of Lincoln.
The monastery at Ely was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. Ely suffered less than many other monasteries during this time, but even so, statues were destroyed together with carvings and stained glass. St Etheldreda's Shrine was also destroyed.
The Cathedral was refounded with a Chapter of eight canons in 1541, as was the Kings School. Robert Steward, the last Prior of the monastery, became the first Dean of the Cathedral.
The first major restoration took place in the 18th Century under James Essex. With the arrival of Dean George Peacock in 1839 a second restoration project began. Together with the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, he restored the building to its former glory.
A third major restoration project, the most extensive to date, was begun in 1986 and was completed in the year 2000.
Learn more about Ely Cathedral
You can learn more about Ely Cathedral and plan your visit via the Cathedral website here.
Are you keen to volunteer at the Cathedral?
There are lots of opportunities to get involved so please visit the website here to discover more.
Cathedral and Parish Passes
If you live in the CB6 or CB7 postal area you are entitled to a free Ely Cathedral Residents Pass. Passes are issued from the Admissions Desks inside the Cathedral. The Residents Pass gives you free access to the ground floor of the Cathedral.
Ely Cathedral Parish Passes are available to everyone who is a member of the electoral roll of a church that is within the Diocese of Ely. Pass holders are entitled to free entry to the Cathedral.
More information on each cathedral pass and further details for how to apply are located on Ely Cathedral website here.