Monday, June 18, 2012

Super Epic Cathedral Trip day 4 (last day)

The schedule for the last day was simple: Ely then London, unfortunately Cambridge and Canterbury had to be taken of the list of attractions for the simple reason of time and distance. We needed to be in London by 4 at the latest to give the car back, but we wanted to make it to Euston (the car drop off stop) by 1-3.
We were very lucky with the opening hours at Ely the cathedral was open from 7 till 8 or 9. We wanted to be there at the earliest possible time, yet with the journey taking around 2 hours it was decided that we do not torture ourselves by raising at 5am but rather sleep until 6am to arrive to Ely at around 8am.

The road to Ely was cold, miserable, and foggy, with white noise coming from the radio (again) but none of that really bothered me as I was finally going to see the great octagonal tower over the crossing of the cathedral.

The Cathedral was seen from a far distance, even before we entered Ely we could make out the silhouette of the cathedral through the fog, towering over the city. Of course the details came in to view only when we were right next to it.
I have to say that the exterior resembled a mixture of Lincoln and York. With niches and carvings similar to those in Lincoln

And gargoyles here and there like in York

On the road to Ely in one of the guide books I read that the furnishing of the cathedral is simple. It was a lie, unless by furnishing they called actual furniture because very few cathedrals have interiors as lavish as Ely Cathedral.

This column is reminescent of thouse at Durham
Though the painted wooden ceiling of the main nave is a 19th century addition the cathedral does boast some impressive 13-15 century vaulting.

the thing in the middle is dangling down like a drop

Now looking back at my notes on Ely made when I was there I came across this:
"Has the charm of Durham, the grace of York, and the size of Lincoln" in other words it is the perfect hybrid.
It also turns out that rising early is beneficial as the cathedral starts taking entry fee at 9-10 which we did not have to pay. After spending a couple of hours in the cathedral hunger overcame curiosity and it was time for breakfast which we ended up sharing with the ducks.

Ely was the last stop and from there it was a hop and a skip to London and an hour in traffic in London.
Looking back on the trip it was one of the best things I ever did. No matter how much you read about cathedrals, how thorough is your research you have to see them. An hour in the Cathedral is more informative than days of reading. For example Durham turned out to be stubbier than I thought, York far bigger than imagined, the octagonal tower in Ely shorter and wider than expected.
I also realized just how hard it is to write about a cathedral. They are overwhelming, you do not know from where to approach it and to sift through the layers of history and additions is a mission impossible.
Well one trip is done but there are still plenty of cathedrals to see in Britain!

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