Saint Etheldreda’s statue in her church in Ely
Today is the feast day of Saint Etheldreda, an Anglo-Saxon princess and sister to saints Ethelburga, Erconwald, Sexburga, and Withburga (like modern-day dynasties, they seemed to like keeping things in the family). A consecrated virgin, despite her marriage to a frustrated noble, she founded the great monastery at Ely and now gives her name to the fine church in Ely Place, off High Holborn, a church out of time and yet a spiritual powerhouse on the edge of the old City. It is also an excellent place in which to attend the Latin Mass or to receive the Blessing of the Throats on Saint Blaise’s Day in February.
Saint Etheldreda was also known as Saint Audrey. The exceptionally bad quality of goods, especially the neckerchiefs, sold at Saint Audrey’s Fair in Ely throughout the Middle Ages, became known as ‘tawdry’.
Saint Etheldreda’s Church, Ely Place, London.