I went to Ely to visit St Audrey

Flagstone in Ely cathedral - here stood the shrine of St Ethelreda

I lit a candle for her.

Close-up of the statue of St Ethelreda at the east end of Ely CathedralBut I don’t think she could’ve heard me over the din.

View from the transept of Ely cathedral - a christian rock band rehearsingRave in the nave. I kid you not.1

A signboard announcing Rave in the Nave

I have… complicated feelings about my own hagio-tourism. A lot of it’s historical curiosity and artistic appreciation. But then. I was raised in a really protestant environment. I developed a sense of connection to the past, to traditional liturgy and saints at the same time I was losing my faith. The faith’s gone but I still have a sense of connection to, say, St Audrey, one which doesn’t fit with either my upbringing or my current state of atheism. Maybe it’s just that I wrote an essay on her once. I don’t know.

I also don’t know why I’m telling the internet at large this.

Speaking of supernatural encounters on church grounds…

Transept of Ely Cathedral, with TARDIS, Daleks and Cybermen


1. In all fairness, Rave in the Nave seemed like a pretty cool production (it was being rehearsed as I came through). I’m just not sure that there’s any way to hit on more of my religious angst at one time than put up a mass youth event with what looked like a tilt toward the evangelical side, in a church dedicated to St Audrey, on the day I decide to pop in. Wait. I can think of one way, but fortunately, there were no truly vicious atheists around to mock these guys. If you feel like mocking in the comments, keep it gentle, OK? Yes, it’s incongruous and the name is ridiculous, but be gentle, as a favour to me.


11 Responses to “I went to Ely to visit St Audrey”

  1. treeandleaf Says:

    Oh dear, you hit Rave in the Nave day. As far as I know it’s not really _that_ evangelical in terms of doctrine, but there is a prevailing belief that Young People Like That Sort Of Thing, music-and-worship-wise. I never did, but then I ended up becoming an Anglo-Catholic, so I’m hardly a balanced sample.

    • highlyeccentric Says:

      I have, um, issues with That Sort Of Thing. Ranging from disinterest to outright panic attacks depending on the delivery… *sigh*

  2. Jonathan Jarrett Says:

    But, was it actually in the nave? The red lights appear to be facing into the crossing. These things matter!

    A friend of mine who lives in Ely has been known to wonder, since architecture is said to be frozen music, what Ely Cathedral would sound like if one melted it. Strauss, he rather thought, but much louder and grander than Strauss’s orchestration would usually achieve.

    • highlyeccentric Says:

      Yes, it was in the nave! I was standing in the transept – and OK, the stage is in the crossing part, but the audience would be in the nave. Also in the nave was a pillow-fighting arena. Don’t ask.

  3. Annelise Says:

    Oh… I was wondering if you’d visited St Audrey, when you mentioned something about there being almost nothing historical touristy to do in Cambridge city- what with your previous mentions of her here šŸ™‚

    Jonathan, that’s such a cool thought!

    • highlyeccentric Says:

      How could I not visit St Audrey? I almost didn’t, actually, but my friend V. reminded me that I had nothing to do on Friday in Cambridge, so I just got on a train and went to Ely. I really needed some time to myself, too, AND I got to eat a Real English Flapjack, so it was a worthwhile trip all round.

  4. Annelise Says:

    I’m glad!

    “And she grows young as the world grows old”… I really like how you can just go to places like this, regardless of the fact that they’re also our stories. Remind me to jump on a train in England one day, flapjacks included! Sounds like a perfect trip for an unfilled day.

  5. [c] Says:

    I’m not sure about raves (not really my kind of thing), but I totally agree with the great Billy Connolly when he says that Christians shouldn’t be allowed near rock’n’roll. Actually, it’d be kind of interesting to know what Billy would have to say about this Rave in the Nave thing – I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be gentle, though šŸ˜‰

    • treeandleaf Says:

      Actually if it’s the event I’m thinking of, “rave” is in any case pushing it – it’s a one night sleep-over/ party type thing for younger teenagers. Lots of dioceses do them, although Ely are the only ones who use that name. I suppose they found the rhyme irresistible, though I rather wish they hadn’t. But to be fair, parties aimed at that age-group always look naff to anyone older, whatever the kids in question actually think. Just look at school discos….

      • highlyeccentric Says:

        That explains the pillow-fighting, then! I wasn’t thinking it actually counted as a rave by any standards, but why *would* you resist that terrible rhyme?

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