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A double religious house was founded on the present site by Etheldreda, a daughter of Anna, King of East Anglia, in 673. The monastery was laid waste by the Danes in 870, but 8 monks are said to have returned and founded a secular college, (minster). It was refounded by Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, as a Benedictine abbey in 970, and dedicated to St Peter and the Blessed Virgin by Dunstan in 974. The building of the present church and monastic buildings was begun under Simeon, the first Norman abbot, in 1083, and was virtually completed in its present form by 1350 after which no further major building took place. The nave and transepts have exceptionally fine 12th century work, the chancel and west porch are 13th century, and the central crossing lantern and Lady Chapel are 14th century. The inner porch has some 15th century work. Considerable restoration work was done by Sir Gilbert Scott in the mid 19th century. It is not known when the north west transept collapsed, but it was probably in the first half of the 15th century. The Lady Chapel was begun in 1321 and a year later the Norman crossing tower fell. The octagonal tower which replaced it was designed and built under the sacrist Alan of Walsingham, and the timber framed lantern which crowns it was built under the direction of William Hurle, Chief Carpenter of the King's Works. The monastery was dissolved on 18th November 1539, and the dedication of the Cathedral was changed to the Holy and Undivided Trinity. (For the associated monastic buildings, see TL58SW14). See TL58SW13 for a possible carved stone from the Saxon monastery.
Dependencies: Denney, Mullicourt, St Neots, Spinney; and St John's Hospital, (Ely).

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