19 Apr

Let’s move to Ely, Cambridgeshire: still haunted by its past

‘I can imagine a rather fabulous Nordic-noir inspired TV detective series being set there’What’s going for it? It’s an odd place, Ely. For a start they have an annual eel-throwing competition on Eel Day. (That’s toy eels, animal lovers.) But that makes it all the weirder. I can imagine a rather fabulous Nordic-noir-inspired TV detective series being set there, under the flat, relentless Fen skies – possibly set in the 15th-century (Ely’s heyday); possibly starring Paddy Considine as a monk detective, with issues of course. (You can have that idea for free, scriptwriters.) It’s the city’s uncanny combination of isolation and exposure, brought on by its geography and history: all by itself high up on an island of clay, surrounded by marshes and miasmas. What an astonishing spot it must have been in medieval times, with its fantastic cathedral newly completed, the Ship of the Fens, and hooded clergy dominating this isolated, lonely place of gothic arches and misericords, eel traders and clay potters. Executive estates may now cling to the island, tour buses come to gawp at the cathedral, and Cambridge is only 15 minutes away on the train, but its intense past seems seeped into the stones, haunting the place centuries on.The case against Its unique sense of place won’t be for everyone. It remains, despite good train links, decent local culture and community, relatively alone, quiet and small. Continue reading…

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