Ely, Cambridgeshire

St Mary's Church, Ely, Cambridgeshire

A church has stood here from a very early period but the current structure was built around 1200 by Bishop Eustace to allow the townsfolk to worship other than in the Chapel of Holy Cross in the Cathedral.

The bulk of the church is from this original construction with the tower and spire being added around a century later and the porch around 1370.

Oliver Cromwell lived next door to St. Mary’s for 10 years from 1636 and his house is today the local Tourist Information Centre.

In 1816 the vicar of St. Mary’s was also the local prison chaplain and he took the last confessions of the Littleport and Ely Rioters who were hanged in that year. Unusually they were buried in the churchyard and a tablet on the outside of the church states by way of a warning:

Here lye Interred in one grave 

The bodies of

William Beamiss, George Crow,

John Dennis, Isaac Harley,

and Thomas South

Who were all executed in Ely on the 28th

Day of June 1816, having been convicted

at the Special Assizes holden there of

divers Robberies during the Riots at Ely

and Littleport in the month of May in that year


May their awful Fate

Be a warning to others


The usual round of Victorian amendments took out much of the interior of the church and moved the pulpit to a different place and new stained glass was also installed at this time.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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