Ely Cathedral-themed adventure playground takes shape at new Ben’s Yard retail village
A new ‘ship of the Fens’ has been created – or at least, a replica version.
Ely Cathedral has inspired the design of the adventure playground at Ben’s Yard, a new retail village set to open in spring 2023 on the 2,500-acre Stuntney Estate, close to Ely.
The founders of the project are Alastair and Victoria Morbey, who have four young children and have designed the site with families and the environment in mind.
Development of the retail village is ongoing, but work on the playground is already completed, although you can’t play on it just yet...
Victoria said: “The build work of the ‘cathedral’ is finished. The underneath and the grounding is to be completed in the spring, just based on the fact the ground’s so hard and it’s so wet. It will have woodchip and rubber matting underneath it all so that it’s all safe, but the framework of the cathedral is up and done.”
Victoria said that the adventure playground will accommodate 75 to 80 children at once.
She added: “We wanted to do something that was really iconic to this area and really symbolised where we are, geographically.
“What we’re building, and the community that it’s all about, is all about Ely so it made sense to do something to honour the cathedral. We got permission – we spoke to the Dean of Ely Cathedral and asked if it would be all right about a year ago, because we’d had this idea.
“We sent them the design and they were hugely supportive, which is lovely.”
The model of the cathedral follows the exact same layout of the nearby Ely Cathedral.
“There’s the Octagon and there’s the West Tower,” said Victoria. “It literally follows exactly.”
As the Cambridge Independent reported last month, as well as the cathedral-themed adventure playground, Ben’s Yard promises local and independent shops, a restaurant and café, spa services and an artisan food hall.
It will also offer boutique fashion, homeware, a florist, and hairdressing, as well as green space across several acres with five kilometres of marked trails through woodland, fenland and wildflower meadows.
A two-kilometre loop on hardcore has been designed with wheelchairs, bikes and buggies in mind, while Ben’s Yard Larder will sell food gifts, including luxury, seasonal and novelty food favourites, and takeaway options.
The founders plan regular brand partnerships, events and outdoor theatre productions throughout the year, including summer dog-shows, local food fairs and Christmas markets.