Six young Catholic children from Orwell Park School, Suffolk, were recently treated to a day at Ely Cathedral, where they were given habits and taken through a day in the life of a monk in the Middle Ages.
The six children, two from Suffolk who attend local churches and four from Madrid’s Maravillas church school visiting England for a year to brush up their language skills, are pictured standing in the ancient “ogee” arches that run all round the Lady Chapel in the cathedral.
Well over 1,000 years old, the arches survive despite some very rough treatment from Henry VIII, and then from Oliver Cromwell’s Puritans, who stabled their horses in the chapel.
The monastery at Ely was founded in 673 AD by St Etheldreda, the daughter of a local king, and was made part of the cathedral in 1321, when Alan of Walsingham started the building programme.
The children are taken to Ely every year by the school to experience the monks’ life, as well as to learn the living history by touching and feeling the various ancient wood, stone and brass works.
According to staff, they always arrive full of excitement, but by the time they leave they are in a much more reflective mood.