March 20 – Another trip to Ely

To meet James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

We had an appointment to meet James Palmer, the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, and Tom Hunt, his media and political advisor in Ely Council Offices at 3.30 pm. We went up earlier in the morning so that we could collect some church micros on the way up.

After turning off the A14 we went into Fordham to the Congregational church.  We could not figure out why but we could not find this cache. We looked for ages and extended our search but still found nothing.

 Fordham’s St Peters church was a completely different matter. Wow what an awesome find!! We have visited over 800 UK churches in the twenty months and this one is definitely one of the best. The walls are covered in beautiful frescoes in the style of William Morris being designed by C.P. Leonard and executed by two sisters Edith and Minnie Townsend in 1905. The fabulous tower frescoes were by the same designer. This work was completely breathtaking and I could visit them again and again. There was also a lovely painted pipe organ rebuilt and enlarged by Arthur C. Lever, London in 1911 and twelve misericords and that was only the start of the treasures in the church. The stone Decalogue was inlaid with coloured tile and gold to the left-hand side of the altar and on the right was a restored 13th-century double piscina and triple sedilia with deeply moulded two-centred arches and shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The church also had some wonderfully carved bench ends as well as some hatchments and a monumental brass dedicated to Willian Chesewright who died in 1521. The embroidered cloth covering the Victorian funeral cart was another inspiring feature. We met Jane Foulds in the church and she was very happy to tell us some of the histories of the church and the town.

The geocache at Soham’s Baptist church was an excellent cache and a very clever one which we found quickly shaped around a lamppost. We then moved on to Soham’s St Andrew’s church. It was another nice church with a Queen Anne coat of arms. There is a mix of modern and Victorian stained glass windows. My favourite old window was that of St. Felix. The wooden ceiling was unpainted but had angels carved on it. In the chancel and sanctity, there was a wooden choir and reredos with some wall painting also of St Felix. There were ten misericords sitting unused in the chapel. Some of the bench ends were intricately carved but were very damaged from Reformation days. The stone font was square and stood on a centre post and four marble columns.

We only stopped quickly enough to find the geocache at Stuntley as the Church of the Holy Cross was closed. I found the cache easily behind a road sign but I had to be very careful as there was a guy over the road building a ‘crinkle-crankle’ wall. I wish we had taken a photo of that. I wonder what would happen if you rang a bricklayer in New Zealand and said you wanted him to build a crinkle-crankle wall.

After lunch at Ely cathedral, we walked the long way around the streets to the site of the cathedral geocache. But despite finding the hint object and extending ort search we just could not find the cache anywhere. We really wanted to find this one as we seem to have trouble finding the cathedral church micros. Eventually, we had to give up.

Along the road, we found ourselves at St Mary’s church which is beside Oliver Cromwell’s house. The church micro was about 14 metres out from the GPS coordinates and was underneath Elizabeth Cromwell‘s seat which was inscribed with a recipe for roast eels taken from “Mrs Cromwell’s Cook Book” from 1664. Mike found it by using his geocaching sense – “now where would I hide it?”. Oliver Cromwell’s house is the Tourist Information office for Ely. We had to wait a couple of minutes before entering the church as there was a ‘crime scene’ inside. Church staff were teaching children about Easter using a lot of very interesting activities including fingerprint taking and crime scene examinations. The ‘police team’ were all dressed in white overalls. It was very realistic looking and it looks like both the children and the church youth workers enjoyed their activity. St Mary’s had a lovely painted ceiling and a gorgeous reredos in pink alabaster or marble with gild and coloured paintings. The East window was a very special stained glass window of St Edmund and St Etheldreda, two of my favourite saints. The main window over the altar had bagpipes in it which is very interesting.

Then we walked on further to St Etheldreda’s Catholic church. We made a nice easy find of the geocache but unfortunately the church was closed. It was a pity as we would have liked to look inside as it looked like it would have been a good church.

At 3.30 pm we met with Mayor James Palmer, Tom Hunt and Luke and they are very keen for us to set up our exhibition in Ely as they are putting a bid in to house the original Bayeux Tapestry when it comes to England in a few years time. They have been unable to find a place for the Medieval Mosaic to be exhibited as yet but are still looking. They mentioned a few places so we went for a walk to check out some of the possibilities. The museum was nowhere near big enough from what we could see through the window, as they were closed on Tuesdays. Then we tried the Cathedral conference centre which again was too small. Next, we drove to the Maltings down beside the Great Ouse river. It was a wonderful setting with the boats and ducks on the river. The Maltings building was closed but a very nice Spanish lady showed us inside. Now that room was perfect except that it is used regularly for movies, weddings, receptions, and numerous other occasions. So the search continues. Inside the Maltings we saw a wonderful artwork – The Ely-Ribe Tapestry which was designed by Ullrich Rössing in 2006. We were very lucky to have been able to see this lovely work.

Soon it was time to be on our way home. We left the A142 so that we could go to St Nicholas’ church at Landwade. It was a quick find of the geocache on a country road but we never got close to the church, just getting a photo of it across the fields.

Then we went on to Exning and St Martin’s church. As we getting out of the car a gentleman passed us with a beautiful huge dog and we had to stop to say hello. The man said that the Leonberger had just been to the groomer for six hours. He has a double coat and it takes all that time to bath, dry and to groom him.  He was a lovely looking dog with the size and face of a St Bernard but the coat and colouring of an Alsatian. Hope he doesn’t see a squirrel on the way home as there would be no holding him, although he did seem very well trained. We couldn’t find the geocache initially then we realised that it was a multi not a traditional. So we collected the numbers and worked out the coordinates.  The church had been closed when we passed it but on the way back we saw the door was open and we went in for a quick look. A lady was just doing a few things so was happy for us to look around. There was a fabulous decalogue as a reredos and two royal coats of arms, one for George II and the other for George III. It is quite unusual to have two royal coats of arms in one church. There was a large wooden tester, or sounding board, over the pulpit and a 15th-century tomb in the sanctity. We ended up having to retrace our steps to the road we entered the village on to find the geocache which we found very quickly and that was to be our last church micro of the day.