Why is Ely so popular with celebrities?
- Credit: PA/Twitter/Archant
It has welcomed Gyles Brandreth, Catherine Russell, Charles Hanson and Pixie Lott in the last year - so why is the city of Ely such a celebrity magnet?
Praised for its “friendliness and historic atmosphere”, judges highlighted the city’s market square, including drinks from Silver Oak Coffee, in The Sunday Times’ Best Places to Live list.
It's no surprise, then, that so many famous faces are visiting the historic city.
Most recently, in May, English actor Dame Sheila Hancock DBE and daytime TV star Gyles Brandreth (you'll recognise him from Celebrity Gogglebox) were spotted visiting their “favourite” bookshop.
The Edie actor and regular This Morning star visited Topping & Company Booksellers of Ely on May 27.
He tweeted at the time: “We popped into a favourite bookshop @ToppingsEly to check out their stock of my biography of Prince Philip.
“They’d kindly put a copy in the window without knowing we were coming.”
In September 2020, popstar Pixie Lott surprised the Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir after dropping in to watch Evensong before meeting the members.
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Staff at the cathedral said the 29-year-old’s visit was a complete surprise and had arrived “just in time” to hear the girls sing together.
Also in that month, actress Catherine Russell – best known for playing Serena Campbell in Holby City – visited Ely as part of a UK-wide campervan tour.
The 55-year-old TV star shared a snap of Ely Cathedral on her official Twitter account, calling the historic building “marvellous”.
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Russell, of Lambeth in London, said the cathedral “has frightening corners”, showing her 41,000 followers one of the faces on the exterior.
In June 2019, Charles Hanson visited St Mary's Antiques in Ely to film a new episode of the BBC series Antiques Road Trip.
Peter Warwick, who has worked in the jewellery and antiques business since 1964, was left stunned when he received a call from the BBC.
"They told me that one of the film members had been in the shop secretly and they asked if I'd like to be on the show.
"Then a few days later in bowls through the door Charlie Hanson."