Due to the collapse of the Romanesque central tower in 1322, the original eleventh-century choir of Ely Cathedral has been almost totally rebuilt. However, a few fragments remain to suggest something about its original form. The responds marking the entrance to the vanished apse are the major and most conspicuous survivors. Somewhat similar shafts at the west end of the choir, adjacent to the piers of the fourteenth-century Octagon, have recently been interpreted as evidence that the choir elevation possessed vertical articulation. A close examination of these western shafts reveals that they are actually fourteenth-century, not eleventh-century, masonry. The choir, therefore, most likely was, like the early south transept arm, not vertically articulated. It may also not have had alternating supports, unlike the transept. Other traces of the choir remain at gallery and clerestory levels. One of the most interesting fragments is located in the north clerestory, behind the respond of the lost apse. Here is found evidence of a newel stair in a position similar to one of a pair at nearby Peterborough Abbey, where they are associated with an apse, as was likely the case at Ely. These features, as well as the lack of a crypt, may further distance the choir of Ely from its supposed model, Winchester Cathedral, begun in 1079.
- Copyright 1994 The Society of Architectural Historians