Ely Ely Lama Sabacthani

Roving Medievalist has this habit of posting pictures of places in England that I know and love. Here’s Ely Cathedral.

Interesting facts about Ely:
1.It’s called ‘Ely’ because it is built on the edge of vast marshes where they used to catch lots of eels. Yes, the English still eat eels. In the East end of London they eat eel pie, mashed potates and green gravy.

2. The great abbey at Ely was founded by St Etheldreda–a saxon princess who ran away from a royal marriage to be a nun.

3. Etheldreda’s body was incorrupt for centuries and the great Abbey Church which held her shrine became a major pilgrimage point in the Middle Ages.

4. The shortened form of ‘Etheldreda’ is ‘Audrey’. There is a common serving wench in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night called Audrey.

4. The trinkets and cheap lace which were sold at the markets around the shrine were referred to as ‘St Audrey’s’. The corrupted form of ‘St Audrey’ became the word ‘tawdry’.

4. Henry VIII’s storm troopers destroyed the abbey, pillaged the church and shrine of St Etheldreda, and destroyed the still incorrupt body of the saint.

5. The saint’s hand was handed down (‘scuse the pun) among recusant Catholic families, and when a little Catholic Church was built in Ely in the 1800s, the hand of the saint was enshrined once again in Ely.

I wrote an article about Ely once. Here’s the full article and here’s another article I once wrote about incorruptibles.

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  • You wrote for Fortean Times?! After the Mel Gibson announcement and the ley line, do you have any other interesting things to reveal today?

  • Ummmmm…I met Mother Teresa once?

  • Oh yeah, in the summer of 1987 I hitchhiked to Jerusalem from England staying in monasteries en route.

  • I should have known better than to ask.

  • I am English but I only ever have eel in Chinese restuarants, or Belgium. I am exceptional most of us have never eaten them or visit Belgium.

  • I do admit that Eel pie is an unusual English delicacy, which is rarely found outside the East End of London. I would not wish to portray the entire English people as a nation of Marshwiggles.

  • Anonymous

    There is a Catholic Church in Holborn, Central London called St Etheldreda’s situated in Ely Place which was (I think) the Chapel of the Bishop of Ely’s London residence. It was bought by Catholics in the 19thC and is one of those rare things – a really old (ie pre-Reformation) Catholic Church in England.It now contains statues of some of our Reformation martyrs.

  • This is the statue in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral that I mentioned earlier.

  • Goodness, I’d forgotten how horrendous it is! Is she a charismatic or a female priest with her hands raised like that? I’m afraid I have another personal link to Ely. My sister is married to one of the suffragen bishops of Ely, and when he was a Canon of the Cathedral I believe he was one of the people who commissioned this hideous sculpture.It is especially obsecene since it is in one of the most beautiful medieval buildings in England–the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral.This Lady Chapel was a minor shrine to Our Lady for pilgrims stopping on their way to the greater shrine of Walsingham.

  • jeron

    she looks like a rams cheerleader doing the wave at a football game.

  • Apologies for the lateness of this comment on the Ely Madonna. The point I’d like to make is best conveyed by referring you to the picture I posted today on http://swikner.blogspot.com

  • All I can say is…TOUCHDOWN!Hmm, nice to know that the Blessed Virgin Mary liked figure-clinging stretch tops and no bra, like today’s young ladies. Very fashion forward for first century Israel.I was trying to image-google the really neat outdoor statue of Mary of the Magnificat (not sure of the exact title) at Franciscan University of Steubenville, which accomplishes the aspiration better than this sculptor.