ELY: A small town of England in Cambridgeshire (16 m. n.n.e. of Cambridge). It is the seat of an important bishopric, erected in 1107, which for a long time, owing to its remote situation amid the marsh-lands of East England, enjoyed a quasi-palatine authority second only to that of the see of Durham (q.v.). A convent was founded on the Island of Ely in 673 by Etheldreda, queen of Northumbria (see ETHELDREDA, SAINT), who continued abbess till her death. In 1070 Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester, restored the buildings after the ravages of the Danes and filled them with monks instead of nuns. In 1083 Abbot Simeon commenced the conventual church, which Henry VIII made the cathedral. The present buildings date from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries, affording examples of every period of English gothic, and especially as restored in the nineteenth century, with the beautiful painting executed as a labor of love by Mr. Gambier Parry, are among the principal attractions of English ecclesiastical architecture.
Bibliography: W. E. Dickson, Ely Cathedral, London, 1897; C. W. Stubbs, Historical Memorials of Ely Cathedral, ib. 1897; Handbook to the Cathedral, Ely, 1898; Ely Diocesan Remembrancer, Cambridge, 1895 sqq.; W. D. Sweeting, Cathedral Church of Ely, London, 1901.