Cambridge and Ely We started our day in the modern hotel section of the Jesus College conference center. The Center is almost monastic in a very comfortable way. That makes sense because Jesus College was originally intended primarily for the education of clergy. It was founded in 1571, when Elizabeth I issued a royal charter. The first Protestant college to be founded at the university, it is the only Oxford college to date from Elizabeth’s reign.
After breakfast, we toured a bit of the grounds of the college and the chapel, which dates from 1621. Leaving the college, we passed by the Master’s Lodge. If we’ve learned anything in Cambridge, it’s that it is indeed a very nice thing to be Master of a college here.
Then back onto the streets of Cambridge where we encountered the Round Church, built by the Knights Templar in 1130, making it older that the university. It was not open to such as us.
We wanted to go into St. John’s College, unfortunately closed to visitors. Doesn’t the Master have lovely digs?
We did a farewell walk around town and again marveled at the centuries melding together.
Our last stop in Cambridge — depending on one’s thoughts about art — could be considered a house of worship. The Fitzwilliam Museum is considered one of the best collections of antiquities and modern art in western Europe. David Hockney is currently being featured, integrated into the permanent collection in a thematic way, the gist of which I will spare you. It worked in an interesting way.
What was also stunning about the museum is the building itself. Its main entrance is just breathtaking.
After the cathedral of art, we took a train to our next destination — Ely. The focus of our attention there was the ancient cathedral that has a commanding presence throughout the whole city.
The cathedral began in 762 as an abbey church. The present building dates to 1083, and it was granted cathedral status in 1109. Of course, it had to shift gears during the Reformation, when it was re-founded as the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely. Architecturally, its scale and details, such as the central octagonal tower, make it a stunning space, dominating the surrounding landscape.
So we did a lot of admiring of cathedrals to various deities. But there was always time for a break. Cue Don.
Don’s Food Corner
Maybe because the weather was so magnificently magnificent or because we had an outdoor table at lunch with a magnificently magnificent view of Ely Cathedral, but everything we were served seemed magnificently magnificent.
I had a cured Scottish salmon and cream cheese sandwich on brown bread that rivaled a bagel set-up at New York’s Barney Greengrass — but at one-third the cost. The salmon was piled high. And there were some freshly fried potato chips and a nice salad to go with it.
Jo was in heaven because they offered a jacket potato — with LOTS of butter. She also had a truly homemade leek and potato soup. That came with a fantastic Cheddar cheese scone. Unlike many scones that can be as dense and heavy as hockey pucks, this one was light and almost fluffy. The cheese was nicely pronounced without making the scone greasy — until a LOT of butter was added. It came to the table hot. Perfect.
As we sat there, in the middle of a garden that is adjacent to the cathedral, it was like we were watching spring unfold. The daffodils and many of the other spring bulbs are in full bloom here as are most of the flowering trees.
What a way to spend time in Ely.