[MR] Wikipedia: Ely Cathedral Collapse

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Thu Feb 13 02:27:25 PST 2020

Noble Friends,

On this date in 1322, the central tower of Ely Cathedral collapsed,
possibly because of digging in the soft ground (Ely is in fen country) to
build the adjacent Lady Chapel. The tower was replaced by a larger
octagonal lantern built of wood atop stone piers. This feature makes the
crossing in the cathedral one of the most spectacular among all English
cathedrals. Ely Cathedral itself is spectacular as a whole, and though
stripped of much of its elaborate statuary in the Reformation, it remains
one of the best preserved English cathedrals. And the Lady Chapel? It was
actually completed later during the 14th century, and must have been
particularly lovely, though it is the most desecrated part of the cathedral.

You can read about Ely Cathedral at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ely_Cathedral .

Ely Cathedral is still heated by Gurney Stoves, a Victorian invention which
was widely used in cathedrals, schools, hospitals and other large
buildings. Gurney stoves are rare today, but a few other cathedrals still
use them, now fired by gas with automatic controls instead of coal stoked
by a sexton. I discovered the stoves when I was doing descriptive
cataloging on some Ely photographs for the UVA Fine Arts Library, and had
to know more (both for descriptive purposes and for my curiosity about old
gadgets). No, these stoves aren't of period interested, but I find them
fascinating. Goldsworthy Gurney also built a steam-powered road tractor
(parts of which still exist); steam-powered "gurney" automobiles play an
important part in the seminal "steam punk" novel THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE
which some of you have likely read. Here is a photo of one of Ely's Gurney
Stoves: https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3121656 .

Yours Aye,

Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge  🦆

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