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Living in Ely: A Guide to Cambridgeshire’s Charming Cathedral City

September 12, 2023

Living in Ely: A Guide to Cambridgeshire’s Charming Cathedral City

Are you considering living in Ely?

The first thing that will strike you about Ely is its strong sense of community. It is, after all, one of the UK’s smallest cities and evokes a feeling of togetherness – only with all the perks you’ve come to expect from city life. 

Here, we take a closer look at this East Cambridgeshire city and why it should be on your radar. 

About Ely

Get the lowdown on everything you need to know about living in Ely, including where it’s located, transport connections and more. 

Where is Ely?

Ely is a historic city located in Cambridgeshire, 15 miles north of Cambridge. Renowned for its magnificent cathedral, Ely has picturesque landscapes and a rich heritage, making it a notable location in the East of England. With a population of only 20,000, it’s easily one of the smallest cities in the UK. 

What Transport Connections are Available from Ely?

Ely has excellent connectivity, both by road and rail. With its own train station, residents can effortlessly journey to major cities like London, Cambridge and Norwich. Plus, the A10 road seamlessly links to Cambridge and the M11 motorway, meaning drivers can make the most of regular commutes and weekend getaways. 

Living in Ely

What Makes Ely a Good Place to Live?

Community is a significant draw for buyers, and Elly has it in abundance. But there’s also history, landmarks and plenty of things to do and see here. 

At Ely’s heart stands the majestic Ely Cathedral, a mediaeval masterpiece that draws global admirers. The city is also intertwined with figures like Oliver Cromwell, who once held residence in Ely. 

Twice weekly, Ely buzzes with a lively market where you can shop for local produce and household goods. And when it comes to everyday life, the city has chic boutiques and eateries, as well as a thriving cafè culture. 

Families are enticed to the area thanks to the quality of education, which has both state and private schools. Outdoor enthusiasts will find appeal, too, with Ely fondly dubbed the ‘Ship of the Fens’ – an ode to its unique island stature amidst the expansive fenland canvas.

There’s also a low crime rate in Ely, with 59 crimes per 1,000 people. This figure is 26% lower than the average for Cambridgeshire. 

Places to Eat and Drink

Ely’s culinary scene caters to diverse palates and preferences. Dive into some of its standout establishments, such as:

  • The Almonry. Step back in time and indulge in a classic afternoon tea experience, complete with both sweet and savoury delights, all within a 13th-century setting.
  • The Old Fire Engine House is a restaurant and art gallery serving modern British cuisine made with local and seasonal ingredients. It also hosts regular art exhibitions and events.
  • The Three Kings is a traditional village pub that serves classic pub grub and real ales. Its cosy atmosphere is perfect for unwinding, while a beer garden delights in warmer months.
  • Julia’s Tea Rooms. Known for its coffee and tea selections, Julia’s also offers a variety of dishes, with guests praising its delicious cakes and the friendly staff.
  • The Minster Tavern is a go-to locale for those seeking a casual drink or meal. It dishes out pub favourites like the pork belly burger and a selection of pies. 

Ely is also known for its annual Eel Day festival, which celebrates the town’s history of eel fishing. During the festival, you can sample the many food stalls offering eel-based dishes, including smoked eel and eel pie.

Schools in Ely

From trusted state schools to esteemed independent institutions, Ely offers a broad range of learning opportunities for children of all ages. Here’s a snapshot of the city’s educational offerings.

Top-Ranked Schools in Ely

  • Ely College
  • Ely St Mary’s CofE Junior School
  • Ely St John’s Community Primary School

Secondary education

Ely College

Ely College accommodates over 1,550 students. As a Meridian Trust 11-18 Academy, it stands proudly in Ely’s centre, with the Bishop Laney Sixth Form also part of the college campus. The institution prides itself on its dedicated staff and its collective vision to provide an outstanding educational experience.

Independent school

King’s Ely

A renowned co-educational day and boarding school catering to pupils aged 2-18. King’s Ely is known for its academic excellence. The school also offers an extensive range of extracurricular activities, like Zumba, a jazz band, kayaking, athletics and much more. 

Shops in Ely

With a mix of well-known retail chains and independent boutiques, Ely packs a lot into a small space and gives residents plenty of options. 

The centre is home to a whole host of historic buildings, many of which are quickly snapped up by brilliant new businesses operating in Cambridgeshire’s vibrant startup ecosystem. 

If you’re looking for a shopping centre, head to the Cloisters. It’s a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, with a good selection of shops, including Wilkinsons, Peacocks and Ely Library. 

Market Square is a bustling hub of activity, with a wide variety of shops and cafes. It’s home to the Ely Market, which offers everything from fresh produce to clothing and crafts.

Anyone looking for electricals and crafts should visit the independent boutiques in Ely. Spots like the Eel Catcher’s Daughter – a gift shop offering costume jewellery and homewares, mainly from local designers – are thriving. 

Even better, parking your car in Ely is free in most places. So it’s easy to visit the shops.

Property in Ely Cambridgeshire

Property in Ely

From spacious townhouses to cosy apartments, there are a large range of property in Ely.

In the town centre, buyers will find some period properties together with modern homes, and on the fringes of the city are several modern developments with clusters of homes on no-through roads.

Why Move to Ely?

With its rich history and picturesque landscapes, Ely is more than just a city. Consider living here a lifestyle, one that’s packed with iconic landmarks, bustling markets and a strong sense of community.

So if you’re seeking a place that offers a sense of belonging and all the conveniences of modern living, Ely beckons with open arms.

To talk to a buying agent about your search for a home and the possibility of living in Ely, please do get in touch.

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