Ely is a city situated in Cambridgeshire, about 14 miles from Cambridge and England’s second smallest city. It’s about an hour’s drive from my house but despite this, I’d never been. So when my dad suggested we go when he came up to visit us, I agreed. I quickly Googled what there was to do in Ely and realised that there was actually quite a lot. I’m not a big history nerd, I don’t know nearly as much as I should do, especially about England’s history but I love museums and historical buildings. One of the first thing’s that comes up when you Google Ely is that Oliver Cromwell’s house is there. This is where we began our day.
Entry to the house is £4.90 per adult and children (6-16) are £3.40. I think this is a reasonable price for the house, it’s not massive but there are a few bits to do. Included in the admission price is an audio handset and dotted around the house are signs, telling you what to listen to when. I can’t comment on how good this is because I was wearing Archie so I wasn’t able to listen to it.
You start off watching a short film about Oliver Cromwell and what he did. It was about 9 minutes long. From there, you go into the kitchen. Henry was given a sheet with bits to find around the house. He loves doing things like this and it kept him amused while me and my dad were reading all the factual information.
From the kitchen, a staircase takes you up onto the first floor and into a dressing room. I think it was Elizabeth Cromwell’s room (but don’t quote me on that!) In here, there was a wardrobe which had different hats to try on. My personal favourite was this one..Also in this room was a selection of toys and games that would have been around in Cromwell’s day. He and his wife had 9 children so they needed something to amuse them all! There was a hoop toss game where you had to throw fabric hoops onto a wooden pole, shields and swords and, Henry’s personal favourite, hobby horses!
We then went through into the study, which had weapons which would have been around in the Civil War on display. From here, a door led you into “The Haunted Bedroom”. I didn’t hang around long enough to find out why it was supposedly haunted, I just walked through as quickly as I could with my head down! Down a staircase and you were back in the gift shop. Me and Gareth buy fridge magnets from new places we go to and I found a lovely one with Oliver Cromwell’s house on with a beautiful flowering tree outside.
By now, it was 12.30 and we were all starving. I’d been recommended Peacock’s tearooms which were down by the marina. We walked through town, which had a great mix of well known high street shops and boutique shops. When I go next time, I’ll definitely be exploring these independent shops. I’m a sucker for quirky things. As the tearoom is by the marina, we had to walk down a hill to the Great River Ouse. The marina came into view and soon we spotted the Peacock’s tearoom sign.
Because of the time, there was a queue when we arrived but we didn’t mind. The sun was shining and the view of the river was beautiful. The tearoom has a choice of tables inside or outside and because of the weather, the garden was packed. Luckily we only had to wait about 10 minutes before a table became available. We were given the menus and it all looked amazing. They offer over 70 types of tea, as well as sandwiches, salads and light lunches. On offer every day is a dish of the day, a soup of the day and a cake of the day. The soup was a sweet potato and apple, the dish was a tomato and mozzarella quiche and the cake was an apricot frangipane tart. Everything on the menu looked delicious. I finally decided on an egg and cress sandwich, my dad had a roast beef and horseradish one and Henry very firmly said he wanted a cheese and cucumber sandwich. He also had a cup of orange squash while me and Dad shared a teapot of breakfast tea. We were also lucky enough to be joined by some gorgeous ducklings while we were waiting for our food.
Unfortunately, there was a little bit of a wait between finishing our food and ordering a cake. It was a bit too long for the boys as they started to get antsy so we had to go inside to pay. However, the tearoom offered a take away service so we got our cakes to go. Dad and Henry had an apricot frangipane tart which tasted nice but very quickly went soggy from the apricot juice. I had a coffee cake with Bailey’s icing and it was delicious.
From the tearoom, we walked back up into town (that uphill walk is a killer!) and went to the cathedral. I’m not religious by any means but cathedrals are beautiful buildings. The stained glass windows were amazing. It does feel quite ominous inside because like all cathedrals, there are lots of graves and stones dedicated to people. I read that it costs £6000 a day to keep the cathedral open so they charge an admission fee. We paid £8 each for me and Dad and the boys were free. This included a guided tour of the building which we opted out of. For an additional fee, you can go up one of the two towers of the cathedral and visit the Stained Glass Museum. We didn’t do these either so I can’t comment on those. Archie did get a bit fussy when we were inside so I had to take him off have a feed. I found a wooden bench off to the side and felt very private, not on show at all. The cathedral also has a gift shop and tearooms which had tables outside on the grass, under the shadow of the magnificent towers.
All in all, I had a lovely day and would definitely go back to explore more of this beautiful city. If you’re ever nearby, I’d highly recommend a visit.