Ely Cathedral, proud and strong, stands atop her island surveying all below her. In the bright sunshine she can be seen from miles away but when the mist rolls in and wraps its vaporous fingers around the fenlands, she is like a galleon in full sail riding atop the mist; she becomes the ‘Ship of the
The fenlands were once a place full of foreboding, and the boundaries – where the land gave way to the water-logged marshes – became the stamping ground of many a thief who lay in wait for unwary pilgrims on their way to the Isle of Ely to give thanks to God in the great cathedral, or for travellers who were hoping to sell their wares, make deals or just rest awhile before continuing on their journey. The threat of eternal damnation in the fires of hell that many victims warned of whilst their meagre purses were emptied affected these robbers not. Travellers and merchants were easy prey, and the clergy were as much to be despised as the conquering Norman invaders. Such things caused these robbers no concern, for in their eyes the Lord had long since banished them from his charity. They were already damned; the raging fires had already scorched the soles of their feet. And when offered salvation they would merely crack a disdainful smile and laugh in the face of those who presented such weak and panic-stricken last deals.