Ely Cathedral is the principal church of Cambridgeshire in England, and is known locally as 'The Ship of the Fens', due to its elegant and prominent shape that dominates the surrounding landscape, as if rising from the flat, watery land itself. Building began under Abbot Simeon in 1083 and was continued by his successor, Abbot Richard. The main transepts were built very early on, and are the oldest surviving parts of the cathedral. Construction continued throughout the 12th century, with Bishop Ridel constructing the Romanesque style western transepts and towers, with their intricately decorated and rich arches and moulded designs.
Over the years, many Gothic additions were made to the chapel, including a Galilee porch added under Bishop Eustace, and a new eastern end added by Bishop Northwold in 1234.
Work began in 1321 on a massive, free-standing Lady Chapel, but the instabilities caused by digging its foundations caused the great Norman Crossing Tower to collapse. This was replaced with a ground-breaking new octagonal lantern building, which was completed in 1340.
Thankfully, the church didn't suffer any major damages during Henry VIII's brutal dissolution of the monasteries, however, St Etheldreda's shrine was unfortunately destroyed, and many of the statues on the Lady Chapel were gravely flubbed. The Cathedral was re-founded in 1541.
Ely Cathedral is open to visitors from 9am-6.30pm every day, with various tours available at various prices. Once you've bought a ticket, that ticket will allow you to return to the Cathedral as many times as you like for a whole year!