The Bishop's Palace, Ely

The Bishop’s PalaceEly was one of the residences of the Bishop of Ely from the 15th century until 1941. It is a Grade I listed building.[1]

The palace was built in the 15th century by Bishop John Alcock however just two towers from the original building remain. He also completed the bishop’s palace (now Wisbech Castle) at Wisbech (where he died in 1500). Bishops over the following centuries expanded and remodelled the palace.[1]

In 1541, King Henry VIII founded a College of Canons at Ely Cathedral to replace the monks whose monastery had been dissolved in 1539


The Bishop’s Palace at Ely was used as a prison for Catholics between 1577 and 1597, and between 1588 and 1597 was exclusively a prison for lay recusants. Its inmates included Abbot John Feckenham between 1577 and 1580 and Thomas Tresham, who was imprisoned in Ely four times.

21 Comments CherryPie on Nov 20th 2018

21 Responses to “The Old Bishop’s Palace”

  1. Amfortas says:

    They imprisoned Catholics for their beliefs back then. How come today they don’t get council houses and benefits like the Muslims do?


    • CherryPie says:

      There were no council houses and benefits back then and under Henry VIII and his most immediate successors Muslims would have been imprisoned too.

      ‘Human Politics’ always gets in the way of progress. We should (but never do) learn from history. The human race repeats a cycle of perpetual wars and forgets or does not understand the message taught by spiritual teachers.

      The Bible is a difficult set of readings to access but if we persevere it is all there to be seen… if we take time to understand it. It is easy to focus on the New Testament where Jesus’ disciples relay his teachings. The same message can be found in the Old Testament. The Old & New Testament messages are actually intertwined leading us towards the ‘Truth’ that Jesus was teaching.

      I admire Catholic Recusants. They allowed Catholic Priests to continue to deliver the ‘Holy Spirit’ and the teachings of Jesus to others.


  2. Ginnie says:

    A palace and a prison. (sigh)

    • CherryPie says:

      The Palace has also housed a Red Cross Hospital in 1940, a school for disabled children, a Sue Ryder Care Home and currently King’s Ely (school).

      More good than bad :-)

  3. Astrid says:

    I am always impressed by the age of some buildings, Cherry. Freedom of believe, it was back then an issue and is still an issue :(

    • CherryPie says:

      Sadly freedom of belief is still an issue whether it be political or religious is still an issue.

      Even in our own democratic society we are trending to making the same past mistakes…

  4. Alan says:

    I would imagine that the Bishop’s Palace is rather more salubrious with a Bishop is residence than it was when used as a prison.

  5. lisl says:

    How awful that we chose to imprison Roman Catholics

  6. Oh I remember this place too :)

    Have you been to a special street in Central London called Ely Place?
    It used to be part of Ely too!
    You can tell the Bishop was powerful back then.

  7. Hels says:

    Nod… we all expand and change our buildings, as did the bishops in Ely. But I wonder if any plans and drawings/paintings remain from the original palace.

  8. Shabana says:

    all religions have same basic message but how sad that most of religious leaders form separate shelters to feel powerful and bayed .

    and this is the only reason that actual message is lost between the wars of groups formed by such selfish heads

    bishop’s place is really beautiful inspite of it’s oldness

    • CherryPie says:

      I agree, all (major) religion’s teachings are based on the same spiritual truths. I am a Christian but it was a Hindu writer that led me to fully understand what Jesus was teaching.

      From my heart, I thank him for that :-)

  9. The Yum List says:

    I feel as though I get a little slice of history lessons everyday in your posts ;-)