Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
This notebook design comes from the 1830 cover of James Bentham’s The History and Antiquities of the Conventual and Cathedral Church of Ely. Ely was founded in 673 AD and the cathedral was built, destroyed and rebuilt in various forms before restorations between 1845–1870 saw key sections rebuilt in Decorated Gothic style.
Behold the majesty of the ancient cathedral of Ely!
Our Isle of Ely design depicts an 1830 cover of James Bentham’s The History and Antiquities of the Conventual and Cathedral Church of Ely, from the foundation of the monastery AD 673 to the year 1771. Bentham’s work is an exactingly crafted ode to the magnificence of the cathedral and the ancient curiosities held within its walls. The illustrious monument sits in the English region of the Cambridgeshire Fens, also known as the historic Isle of Ely, so called because it was only accessible by boat until its waterlogged Fens were drained in the 17th century.
Ely’s rich history began when the Anglo-Saxon princess Saint Ethelreda founded a community for monks and nuns atop the island’s hill in 673 AD. Over the years, many stately and important architectural projects took place, each building atop the last – from the original abbey that was destroyed by Danish invaders in 870 before being rebuilt in 970, to the initial version of this cathedral which began construction in 1083, to the final destruction of the original abbey in 1539 during the Reformation.
The Ely Cathedral one can visit today stands tall thanks to restorations undertaken between 1845 and 1870 by the architect George Gilbert Scott. The project brought in new design styles, with the galilee porch, lady chapel and choir rebuilt in an exuberant Decorated Gothic style. Today, the cathedral is a major tourist destination while still maintaining its morning and evening services.
With such a rich history, it’s no wonder that English clergyman and antiquarian James Bentham would take such an interest in Ely. In fact, his history of the cathedral and its artifacts became his life’s major work. Thanks to Bentham’s diligence, the work is a true monument to history and captures over a thousand years of cultural and spiritual exuberance. We continue to celebrate this sense of architectural perseverance with our red and gold Isle of Ely design.