A Promise of Beauty: The Octagon Tower and Lantern at Ely Cathedral

by Michael White

128 pages, 189 x 246 mm
60 photographs, 1 painting, 6 diagrams (all colour)

Softcover | ISBN: 9780955577703 | £9.99

As one of Ely Cathedral's specialist guides, Michael White has shown thousands of visitors around Ely's Octagon Tower and Lantern, the unique and ingenious fourteenth-century structure that forms the Cathedral's magnificent centrepiece. In A Promise of Beauty he offers an engaging and accessible account of the Octagon's history, from the disastrous collapse of the Norman tower that once stood in its place through to the extensive restoration work that modified its form in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Basing his narrative in part upon an exhaustive examination of surviving written sources, he also provides an intimate and revealing first-hand appraisal of the Octagon Tower as it stands today, offering new insights into the intentions of its creator, Alan of Walsingham, and shedding new light on some of its enduring mysteries.

A Grand Building

Ely Cathedral is at the heart of Ely, a grand building in one of the UK's smallest cities. It dominates the local skyline and is visible for miles - you'll see it as you approach across the fens, long before you get close to Ely itself. And if the Cathedral is at the centre of Ely, then the Octagon is the eight-sided heart of the Cathedral.

A Promise of Beauty will take you on a journey through history. You'll meet Anglo-Saxon saints (including Ely's own Etheldreda), Kings, Queens, Bishops and monks, all the way down to the poor man who painted the ceiling, hanging from a rope. You'll travel from 673 AD right through until the present day, discovering the forces that have changed the look of, and threatened the very existence of, the cathedral we know today.

Whether you're a long-standing resident of Ely, or visiting just for a day, A Promise of Beauty has something for you. Gathering together for the first time in one place the full story of the Octagon, and packed with numerous colour photographs and illustrations, it shows the magnificent building in its full glory. Those who thought they were familiar with the Octagon will see it in a new light, while those new to Ely will discover something truly special.

Take a Tour

This book is essential yet accessible reading for anyone intending to visit Ely Cathedral. While you're here, why not take a tour of the Octagon? You never know, you may even have the author as your guide...