The Three Crowns in Ely is said to have been a regular haunt of the Lord Protector, who lived in Ely for a significant portion of his life.
The Cambridgeshire cathedral city of Ely is a delightful little place — and we mean little, for with just over 20,000 inhabitants it’s one of the smallest cities in Britain. Its charms are huge, however: pretty houses, lovely shops and cafés, one of the greatest medieval cathedrals in the country, and history around every corner.
That history is exemplified by the house we’re looking at today: a four-bedroom, 17th century home in the historic centre of the city that’s come to the market at £695,000 via Cheffins. While it’s now a lovely family home, it was for centuries a pub called The Three Crowns — and that was a pub with a historic claim to fame, since it was said to be a regular watering hole of Oliver Cromwell.
Sadly, the claim about Cromwell is fairly hard to corroborate, since the self-styled Lord Protector’s early life is poorly documented. But we do at least know that Cromwell lived in Ely — his house is now a visitor attraction — and local historians suggest that it was at the Three Crowns that Cromwell became involved with the Thomas Parson’s Charity. If that isn’t an excuse to install a bar in one of the rooms, we don’t know what is.
The house is set over three floors, with two rooms on each, and in a location on Waterside, perhaps the most sought-after address in the city centre.
As you’ll see from the pictures the whole thing has been decorated and thought out quite beautifully, with charming rooms, period features retained wherever possible and some lovely modern touches, not least in the kitchen-dining room.
There is a little over 1,700sq ft in total, with two bedrooms apiece on first and second floors, two of which are en-suite. The second floor rooms do have restricted headroom at the sides, but they’d make ideal children’s rooms or home offices.
It’s not a home for gardeners, however: there is a pleasant courtyard outside space, but that’s your lot.
House hunters looking to move out of London might be almost suspicious at this point: can all this really be available at this price? Well, yes. Property in Ely has, historically speaking, been cheaper than the national average, due primarily to its infrastructure (it’s 1hr 15mins on the train from King’s Cross, and the main A10 road is a single carriageway route). In the era of two or three days-a-week commutes, however, that probably makes it better value than ever.
Ely: What you need to know
Location: In the heart of Cambridgeshire’s fenland, roughly 15 miles north of Newmarket and Cambridge, and 30 miles east of Cambridgeshire.
Atmosphere: A pretty-as-a-picture medieval town full of character and interest, set atop the only appreciable hill for miles around. The Cathedral that sits above it all can be seen for dozens of miles, giving it the nickname The Ship of the Fens.
Things to do: As well as its shops and eateries, Ely has a museum, golf course and a country park. Racing at Newmarket and all the joys of Cambridge are roughly half an hour in the car.
Schools: King’s Ely is a very highly regarded independent school right in the heart of the city, while there are several primary schools and state-run Ely College which are all rated ‘Good’ by Oftsed.
Catch up on the best country houses for sale this week that have come to the market via Country Life.