St Ă■elry■'s Shrine at Ely
This medieval architectural wonder of Ely Cathedral was built in honour of St Ă■elry■ (Etheldreda, Audry), the most famous daughter of King RŠdwalds nephew Anna. Ă■elry■, Northumbrian queen and Ely's first Abbess, had founded the original Abbey in 673. When she died on 23rd June, 679, she was buried in her abbey and her shrine became a place of veneration for pilgrims.
A view of Ely Cathedral from the south-east (author's photgraph)
She was succeeded as Abbess by her sister, St Seaxburh, queen of Kent, then by Seaxburhs daughter, St Eormenhilda, and then Eormenhildas daughter, St WŠrburh, all of whom were buried at Ely. Other famous burials at Ely include St Ă■elry■'s step-sister, St Wihtburh, Abbess of East Dereham, who died in 743, and Ealdorman Byrhtno, the heroic English leader killed at the Battle of Maldon in 991.
Following the refoundation of Ely under King Edgar in 970, the later Abbots of Ely wielded immense power on behalf of St Ă■elry■ over parts of East Anglia and the Fens. This included the Five and a Half Hundreds of Wicklaw in south-eastern Suffolk, the ancient territory with Rendlesham and Sutton Hoo close to its centre, which appears to derive from the old heartland of the Wuffing kingdom.
ę Copyright Dr Sam Newton, Blotmona■ AD 2000
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