This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
The city of Ely sits in eastern England within the Fenlands of Cambridgeshire, a coastal plain made up of marshland. Ely is quite an ancient city filled with historic homes and buildings that span the centuries – including this residence at 31 Waterside.
The region is also known as “Isle of Ely”, in part for its swampy surroundings, but also for the creatures that slink and swim in its nearby rivers. Deriving from the Anglo-Saxon word “Eilig”, the region’s original name was “Isle of Eels”. For some time, the city was only accessible by boat due to the watery conditions of the Fenlands. The area is still susceptible to flooding despite being drained in the 17th century.
This city’s origins are rooted in early Anglo-Saxon tribes who established Christianity in the region – namely the Princess Etheldreda; who founded an abbey at Ely in 673 A.D. The city grew from there into a town with a cathedral, historic colleges, hospitals and residences. The home at 31 Waterside holds a particularly unique history.
In 1771, this building was a pub called the Three Crown Public House. It is believed that Oliver Cromwell – the English general and statesman who led England’s armies against King Charles I during the English Civil War and ruled the British Isles as Lord Protector until his death in 1658 – was first elected a Thomas Parson’s Charity Governor at the pub. Thomas Parson’s Charity is an organization in Ely that assists the poor.
31 Waterside is one of many structures in Ely that embody the region’s long-standing history. The pub was eventually turned into a private home, with census records reporting occupants as early as 1830. The building remains a private residence today.
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