DCS: Local Heritage Event:
Tours of Ely Cathedral
Saturday 24th November 2012 Return to Alumni Events
The first of the current crop of outside events organised by the present DCS committee was a trip to Ely Cathedral in November 2008. It was a wild a windy day. The same venue, but a very different itinerary was arranged for the November 24th trip this year; the similarity being the rain and cold, damp conditions, but as we were not attempting to scale the West Tower this year it was a little more comfortable. For some reason, the trip was supported by only a few Evolved Darwinians so a very select few met our guide for the floor tour at 10.00am and as we the only early visitors booked for the tour, we had the guide to ourselves. He was a very enthusiastic person and this tour was very different from that four years ago in it's content and of course, there had been changes to the cathedral. It was obvious that different guides are attracted by different aspects which agreed with the story he told that he accompanied 8 different guides in his training and received 8 different tours. Part way around, whilst he was discussing how and why we should ask for a key to visit Prior Cauden's Chapel (one of his favourite parts situated outside the Southern side), he stopped and asked if our itinerary had a gap at the end of his tour. We had, so he rushed off, returned with the key and took us through the Monks Door and into a very small, delightful chapel after a short walk. This was a bonus for our visit and extended our floor tour sufficiently so we were not waiting more than necessary, i.e. we had a tea or coffee and even energy-giving items, before we had the Octagon Tour.
The Octagon Tour was not available on our last visit and television programmes on the subject in the meantime had whetted our appetites. We had a second guide, this time a young lady who also was extremely knowledgeable and we were joined by other visitors. The climb was not so huge as that for the West Tower and there is an intermediate floor amongst the most base of the organ pipes, to look down at the cathedral floor. We continued by climbing up a very narrow stairway and popped out onto an external walkway where we stopped and looked at the views. Thence through an amazingly small door opening and soon we were among the famous oak beams which support the Octagon, the model of which had reminded David Robbins of a space vehicle, probably a moon-lander. Although covered with tens of years of dust, the size of the trees used, some of which had their original trunk shape with only the bark removed over most of their length, left one staggered by the abilty of the builders to cut and shape them and even to fit them in place.
Those readers who have visited the cathedral will be aware that the Octagon rises cone-shaped before ending in a wide tubular structure, the lower part of which has panels with angels painted on them, and the upper part has stained glass windows. The panels open and our guide opened two of them for us to look through and down.The first impression is that anyone who has looked up and thought how beautiful the Octagon is, realise that their thoughts were vastly underestimated when it is seen from on high.
The paintings of the angels are elongated so that the perspective looks correct from below, and the windows give wonderful light even on a cloudy, miserable day. Looking down, the cone-shaped section also looks as if it should be enjoyed from above, the fluting and colours standing out in relief.
After the climb down, lunch in the adjacent Almonary Restaurant and back to admire the stained glass museum in our own time but still on our one ticket. Finally we left clutching a year's entrance pass to the cathedral which also came with the trip. Our thanks go to our guides and the Almonary for a lovely, enjoyable and educational day. Our thanks also go to Helen Moore for the photographs.
(Click on the pictures for larger versions) Return to Alumni Events