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.