From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury - A social calendar for the 21st century
Ely Cathedral Carol Concert
21 December, 2013
This magnificent cathedral dominates the small fenland town of Ely. Etheldreda, the abbess of Ely, who was daughter of the King of East Anglia in the mid-7th century, founded a monastery on the site of Ely Cathedral, which became a shrine and focus for vast numbers of medieval pilgrims.
Work on the present building began in the eleventh century, and the monastic church became a cathedral in 1109. The Nave is regarded by many as one of the most inspiring ecclesiastical interiors in England. Its architecture is Norman, with distinctive round arches. At 537 ft (164 m), Ely is the fourth longest of the English cathedrals. It also boasts the largest Lady Chapel in the country, which was completed in 1349.
Towering over the flat East Anglian countryside, Ely is known as 'the ship of the fens'. It is an austere and dramatic setting for an annual Christmas carol concert, which takes place under the famous Octagon Tower over looking the magnificent 40ft Christmas Tree. The Festival of Carols, at 7.30pm, features many traditional carols performed by the Cathedral choristers whose voices have celebrated Christmas in this way for centuries, and seasonal readings by local celebrities.