Ely Cathedral

Ely has plenty of attractions and activities to keep you entertained, particularly if you’re a history, architecture, or gardening enthusiast. The city is filled with historic sights, over a thousand years of documented history, and plenty of political and religious drama.

What to Do

Ely has a rich history, with documentation of the land and its inhabitants dating back to late 600 A.D. Most of the original remnants and buildings of this early time are long gone, and instead, you’ll find limestone buildings in this city – though these buildings, too, are rich in history as they’ve stood for centuries. 

These buildings and their significance to the UK’s history are some of the top attractions to see while you’re in the area. However, you’ll find more than just historic architecture here. Ely has plenty of outdoor activities, antiquing opportunities, art, and markets. 

Of all the activities Ely offers, these six are among the most fascinating and enjoyable.

Ely Cathedral

The Ely Cathedral draws visitors and worshippers from all over every year. The church, as it’s seen today, is the result of construction that began in 1081 and took over a hundred years to complete. The church, which has been damaged more than once, has a complex history that has made it one of the richest monasteries in England. This history, the beauty of the building, and its religious significance make it one of the top attractions in Ely.

The Stained Glass Museum

Within the grounds of the Ely Cathedral, you’ll also find The Stained Glass Museum, which explores the history of stained glass not just for the cathedral but for all of the UK. The extensive collection, including display pieces from the Royal Collection and the V&A, makes this museum a huge draw to visitors. While you’re there, you can even learn arts related to stained glass, such as glass fusing and leading. 

Oliver Cromwell’s House

Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector and controversial historical figure who played a role not just in challenging King Charles I but also the following Civil War and the King’s death, resided in this historic building in 1636 with his family. This alone makes it a noteworthy place to visit, but if that’s not enough for you, its rooms are also rumoured to be haunted.

You can tour the refurbished home and learn more about Cromwell, the Civil War, and the aftereffects. You can also take part in an escape room within the house; given the history of the building, it is one of the more immersive and convincing escape rooms you’ll find anywhere.

Netherhall Manor

Netherhall Manor is a stunning property, and its garden, home to plants grown in the region for centuries, is the highlight. The current owner has designed the garden around them in order to showcase and preserve them. Tours of the garden occur regularly, though they don’t include the historic home. However, the home is available to book a stay in.

Prickwillow Engine Museum

In addition to its historic buildings and connections to Cromwell, Ely is an interesting place to visit because it’s part of the fens. For centuries, it could only be accessed by boat as it was once an island surrounded by marshland. Though these marshlands have long been drained, the Prickwillow Museum explores how this happened and how the marshlands impacted the area’s history.

Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve

Established in 1899, this nature reserve is the oldest reserve within the National Trust and an excellent outdoor area to explore the fens. You’ll find multiple paths through the wetland area, including accessible boardwalks and facilities, where you can see the natural grasses and flowers of the area and perhaps even spot some of the many birds and small animals of the region.

Ely Arts Festival

The Ely Arts Festival takes place in June and runs for two weeks. It offers visitors dozens of events that captivate and entertain people of all ages. Some of the events you’ll find include theatre performances, concerts featuring local choirs and musicians, and workshops.

Where to Eat

When touring through historic sights and taking in the local conservation area, there’s no better way to add to the enjoyment of your day than with delicious food. Ely has plenty of gems to try that offer small items like tea and cake and more substantial meals. 

The Almonry Restaurant & Tea Room

This restaurant is part of the Ely Cathedral and is a charming spot to start your day with coffee and a baked good or to stop in for a light lunch with plenty of options like soups, sandwiches, and salads. The dining space is under vaulted ceilings and has beautiful views of the cathedral’s gardens.

The Orangery Restaurant

If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, The Orangery Restaurant offers just that. The setting is elegant and charming, while the food is delicious and plated lavishly. The menu offers a wide range of options for brunch, afternoon tea, or a five-course tasting menu. 

The restaurant is part of one of Ely’s hotels, The Old Hall, considered the most luxurious hotel in the area. If you’re looking to stay in Ely, this hotel is a stunning option with comfortable suites in the beautiful old building surrounded by carefully maintained gardens.

Conclusion

While Ely may not have the excitement of a big city like London or offer the gambling thrills you’ll find at casinos.com, it’s a place that invites you to wade into the history of the UK and appreciate the skill and ingenuity of humankind in a scenic, inviting atmosphere.


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