Ely is located in Cambridgeshire and sits on top of a chalk hill. It is believed that the town is named for the eels that live in the nearby River Ouse. At one time the hill was inaccessible. Sights to see in Ely include Ely Cathedral, which dates back to 673. The Stained Glass Museum and Oliver Cromwell Museum are also must sees while in Ely. Other attractions include Wicken Fen and Welney Wildfowl Centre, which should be of particular interest for those who enjoy nature. There are also numerous eateries and accommodations options in Ely and the surrounding area.
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Ely is often overlooked by tourists due to its diminutive size but this humble city played a pivotal role in the progression and development of English history. The city of Ely was originally founded circa the 7th century when (as was a common occurrence at the time) an abbey was founded to act as the nerve centre for the administration of the town. When the Vikings invaded the abbey was (again as was a common occurrence at the time) completely destroyed, and the damage was so severe that a reconstruction attempt was simply not realistic or practical.
All of that is mere window dressing however, and pales in comparison to the fact that Ely was the place chosen by William the Conqueror to serve as his bastion of last defence. As warring factions, political treachery and intrigue slowly but surely eroded his once iron grip on the English landscape, Ely became the trusted place for William in which to better co-ordinate his attacks and direct his troops.
Ely was also home to another influential English military commander, Oliver Cromwell, who was also responsible for major changes within English history. Even to this day, opinion about Cromwell is fiercely divided with some regarding him as an arrogant, ambitious and treacherous political animal who defied his king for his own gain. To others, he is something of a folk hero, helping to end a dark era within English history and helping to bring justice to the land. His house has been converted into a museum, allowing the visitor to develop a deeper appreciation for this remarkably complex man.
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