Highly regarded by historians and architects from all over the world for its beauty and size, Ely Cathedral is widely acknowledged as ‘one of the wonders of the Medieval world’. Visible for miles around, the Cathedral is often referred to as ‘The Ship of the Fens’.
The present building dates from 1081 and is a remarkable example of both Romanesque and Norman architecture. In addition to its unique Octagon Tower and magnificent Lady Chapel, Ely has the third longest nave of any UK Cathedral. The Cathedral’s role today is not so far removed from its days as a Benedictine monastery and offers regular daily worship with a special emphasis on choral music. It still maintains a resident choir of 22 choristers and six lay clerks and so continues the tradition of choral evensong every day of the week during term time.
As well as being a major visitor attraction, the Cathedral serves as a cultural focal point for East Anglia by providing a unique venue for the arts & music, for exhibitions, lectures, concerts and theatre and, this month, for a magnificent Flower Festival.
The Festival’s creative Director is Chelsea gold medal winner, Roger Woolnough. Roger has overall responsibility for coordinating more than 50,000 blooms to create up to100 spectacular exhibits with the help of over 35 Flower Guilds from across the eastern region from Biggleswade to Lowestoft. Highlights will include a water feature, a floral arch the length of Ely’s impressive nave and an entire area dedicated to commemorating the end of WWI. The crowning glory is a 12 metre wide kaleidoscope of flowers positioned in splendour directly under Ely’s famous Octagon Tower. Roger was the mastermind behind Ely’s highly successful 2013 festival which welcomed 20,000 visitors through the doors in four days, and is delighted to be back at the helm.
“Ely provides a magnificent backdrop for any event but the sheer size and beauty of the building is a great inspiration for any artist or arranger. I am delighted to have the opportunity to be working on Ely’s Festival for a second time as it gives me a wonderful opportunity to design and create displays on a completely different level.”
One of the most noteworthy displays will feature the new Ely Cathedral Rose. The rose has been produced by award winning East Anglian rose growers, Peter Beales, recognised worldwide for the preservation of old fashioned, historic and rare roses. As a specialist propagator of new blooms, they have won many prestigious awards including 24 Gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which is where the Ely Cathedral rose was officially unveiled. This highly scented, repeat flowering shrub plant produces a wonderful multi-headed display of deep red buds open to reveal double, ruffled blooms which was much admired by HRH Prince Charles at the Sandringham Flower Show this year, when he was inspecting a few of the new unnamed new species.
Throughout the four day event there will be musical performances, talks and demonstrations by floral experts, delicious food & drink outlets and a bespoke Gift & Craft Marquee located in the Cathedral grounds.