U.K. 2013  

 Day 12, Saturday

 September 14, 2013


  Our sleep was interrupted at 5:00 am by a loud siren.  It was coming from the Boat House restaurant, which is attached to our inn.  It continued for about 20 minutes.  No one except a man in the houseboat in front of us came around.  It finally shut off.  They said it was a burglar alarm.  We weren’t sure what to do so we just stayed in bed.

  This was our first morning for breakfast at the Riverside Inn in Ely.  The inn only has three guest rooms, so there were three tables set in the breakfast room.  Cereals were on the buffet table.  There was a brief menu…..nothing like what my sister and daughter serve at their B&B- the Inn on the Avenues in Farmville, Virginia.  We had very nice cheese omelets (I also had pieces of ham in mine) and toast.

 Since the train station is just several blocks away, we walked to it to catch the 10:00 train to Peterborough.  We had changed trains in Peterborough yesterday but there was nowhere to store our luggage while we went to the cathedral, so we had to go back again today.  It is only about a 30 minute ride. 

 We decided to walk from the train station to the cathedral.  There were signs pointing the way plus a pedestrian walled walkway to the center of town.   Of course the cathedral was the center of attention.  Since we were early, we walked around town and stopped in a pastry shop and had a snack. 

Our appointment for the tour was 1:00.  It was noon so we decided to go up and look around at the outside.  We knew that today there was a large service of Commissioning of Lay Ministers.  In fact the Dean had written back that he could  not meet us because of the service. 

As we were walking up the walk, a man in a blue shirt without a collar stopped us and asked if I was the Rev. Thomas Clay.  He was the Dean, waiting for us.  He said that he didn’t have to participate in the service.  He invited us to the Deanery (the Deanery is where the Dean lives).  Dean Charles Taylor invited us into his home to his lovely parlor. He offered us “bubbly” along with nuts and cookies to celebrate my 50th anniversary of my ordination.  We had almost an hour visit with him. 

 Then the young man, who was to give us the tour, came to get us.  He was very attentive and knew everything about all the history of England as well as the cathedral.  He spent 2 ½ hours with us.


  Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral was originally a Benedictine monastery, named St. Peters, founded in 655.  The Celtic abbey promoted a somewhat austere lifestyle centered upon rigorous discipline. 

The first abbey was destroyed by a Danish attack in 870 that left the site abandoned and in complete ruin.  It was not until the 10th century Benedictine revival that they re-founding of the community began at this site when Aethelwold of Winchester claimed to have had a vision from Christ instructing him to rebuild the abbey of St. Peter.

A new church was consecrated in 972, and for almost 600 years Peterborough followed the rule of Benedict.  Within 30 years a defensive wall was built making the settlement a burgh.  Eventually the town name of Burgh St. Peter was changed to Peterborough.

The late Saxon period bought increasing prosperity to the monastery but with the Norman Conquest of 1066 a great deal of damage was done to the building.

An accidental fire in 1116 caused further damage to the building resulting in an entirely new church being built which took 120 years to complete.

The cathedral was recently damaged by another great fire in 2001.  Funds were raised to repair the ceiling, organ,and the stonework. The West Front has a unique design.  Completed in the early 13th century, the classical portico of the West  Front is the only part of the building in Gothic style.  There are three gigantic arches which are 85 feet high.  The perpendicular porch in the middle was added to 1380.  Cathedral is 482 feet long, 206 feet wide, the internal height is 82 feet, and the tower is 114 feet tall.

Today the West Front has an oddly asymmetric appearance caused by the incomplete top stage of the south west tower.  This was due to some structural problems.  The West Front has 33 statues adorning the stonework representing the patron saints of the cathedral including St. Peter and other figures from the abbey's history. PLEASE LOOK AT MY MODEL.

Upon entering through two huge doors, we found a huge Nave with a remarkable ceiling which is the only surviving wooden ceiling of its age in the UK.  It was completed around 1250 and was repainted in the 18th and 19th century.  There is a mirror in the aisle under the ceiling where you can get a good look at the design without straining your neck.  The nave as well as the transepts are Norman (Romanesque ) in style, having rounded arches rather than the later pointed arches of the Gothic. 

 As we walked down the center aisle our attention was drawn to a huge hanging crucifix.  A gold figure of Christ mounted on a bright red cross, which was donated to the cathedral in 1975 and designed by George Pace, and sculpted by Frank Roper.  The inscription on the bottom means "the cross stands whilst the world turns".   

The choir stalls are situated where the Benedictine abbey stalls would have been, and dated from the 1890s.  Placement of the choir is a little different from most cathedrals in that the choir is before the tower and the transepts.  We could look up into the beautiful central tower which has been rebuilt twice as the original tower completed around 1160 proved to be too heavy and was declared unsafe.

Under the tower with the transepts on each side, we entered into the Sanctuary area which was rather large and contained two interesting tombs which is a major attraction of visitors to Peterborough Cathedral. 


 There is the tomb of Katharine of Aragon, who was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and the first wife of King Henry VIII.  Henry eventually divorced Katharine because she did not produce a male heir.  Each January there is a service of remembrance for the former queen, attended by the Spanish Ambassador and Spanish visitors.

Mary, Queen of Scots – the cousin of Mary Tudor – was buried here in 1587, after being executed at Fotheringhay Castle. She had been implicated in a plot to kill Elizabeth, who stood in her way to the English throne.  Although she was initially buried in Peterborough cathedral, her body was removed to Westminster Abbey by her son, James I in 1612.  Her former burial place is still marked in the south sanctuary aisle in Peterborough Cathedral and there is a display giving more details to her life.

At the east end of the Sanctuary is the main altar with an Apse behind it.  The Apse contains three stories of large beautiful windows.  The ceiling is early 16th century and of a different design than the nave ceiling.

The original east end was modified in the 14th century by making rectangular ends to each aisle.  Beyond this is an extension built in between 1498 and 1509 known as the New Building.  It was similar to the Lady Chapels and Chapter Houses that we have seen in other cathedrals.  The fan vaulted ceiling was breathtaking.  It reminded us of Bath Abbey and what we will see in King's College Chapel in Cambridge.  There were several large stained-glass windows and a number of effigies (tombs with statues of the deceased on top) of those associated with the cathedrals past are around the walls.

Evensong was at 3: 30 and we joined our guide for this lovely service. 

We went outside to look at some of the architecture.  I have built a model of this cathedral and it had several parts I want to see in person.  Our wonderful guide graciously drove us to the train station.  Everyone has been so gracious to us on this trip.

We caught the 5:17 train back to Ely.  We decided that we would like to go back to the Boat House for dinner since it was next door and it was getting very cold.  I stuck my head in to ask for a reservation and they were full.  They did say that if we could come now (6:30)  if we could finish by 8:00.  We said yes.  We had another good dinner.  Last night we noticed the size of steaks, so we ordered one and split it.  We had a potato cake, snap beans, salad and vanilla crème brulee for dessert.  

We have another early morning 10:00 train tomorrow to Cambridge where we will spend the day.




Day 1 -Arrival in Edinburgh

Day 2 - Edinburgh

Day 3- Edinburgh to Inchcolm Abbey

Day 4 - Edinburgh to Melrose & Rosslyn

DAY 5 - Edinburgh   

DAY 6 - Edinburgh

DAY 7 - York  

DAY 8 - Durham

DAY 9 -York 

DAY 10 - Lincoln

DAY 11 -Ely  

DAY 12 - Peterborough

DAY 13 - Cambridge 

DAY 14 - Ely to Worchester  

DAY 15 - Tewkesbury and Gloucester

DAY 16 - Hereford         

DAY l7 - London   

DAY 18 - London  

DAY 19 - London   

DAY 20 - London to Guildford, Chichester, Midhurst

DAY 21 - London      OUR LAST DAY