Go to Cambs GenWeb pages - to read about Cornelius Vermuyden (1595-1683) and the Fen Reclamation.
||The Fens are a flat lowland, W and S of The Wash.|
Extending c.70 mi (110 km) from north to south and c.35 mi (60 km)
from east to west, it is traversed by numerous streams. The area was
originally the largest swampland in England, formed by the silting
up of a bay of the North Sea. The higher places were sites of Roman
stations. The Romans attempted drainage and built a few roads across
the Fens; however, the area had become marshy by Anglo-Saxon times,
either from natural causes or from allowing Roman work to decay. The
first effective drainage systems were developed in the 17th cent. by
Cornelius Vermuyden, a Dutch engineer. Drainage and construction of
dikes and channels in the various sections or “levels” continued
through the 19th cent., but problems of land sinkage, water
accumulation, and periodic flooding existed throughout the period.
As a result of flooding in the 20th cent., a drainage-improvement
project (completed in the mid-1960s) was undertaken. The district is
largely under intensive cultivation. Agriculture is plentiful on the
fertile alluvial soils, with vegetables, fruit, and wheat being the
principal crops. Wildlife sanctuaries have been preserved.
The district is also called Fenland.
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2000 Columbia University
And did you know that Malaria wasn't eradicated from the Fens until the 1920s?
Speed skating on frozen Cambridgeshire Fens for the first time in 13 years - January 2010
I think my old school song says it all about living in the Fens:
"We are boys and girls of the Fenland
Where the wind blows keen and free
O'er the rich black soil of our farmlands
From the waves of the Great North Sea.
The larks hang singing above us
On our broad untrammeled skies
And naught but the level horizon
Hides the distance from our eyes
Hides the distance from our eyes.
But as we set out on life's journey
We see only part of the way
Nor guess what of joy or of sorrow
May be ours by the end of the day.
This only we know we must meet them
With gay courageous heart
Determined in good times and bad times
Unflinching to play our part
Unflinching to play our part.
We'll cherish the beauty around us
In sight and sound and form
We'll labour and joy in our efforts
We'll shelter a friend in a storm
And as we go onward and upward
On life's adventurous way
We'll echo the song we are singing
At Hereward today
At Hereward today."
It was written by Mr Alec Stockton (Stocky) the music teacher (date?) at the Hereward Boys' School, Robingoodfellow's Lane,
March, and was sung every year at Speech Day.
(I attended the Hereward Girls' School from 1963 to 1967.)
My thanks to my childhood playmate, Margaret English + Fiona Davies and March Museum for helping me find the verses
Christchurch, Cambridgeshire, is the Fenland village where I was brought up, where my parents still live and
where on a beautiful sunny day you can see the sun glinting on the stained glass windows of Ely Cathedral 20 miles away!
No wonder the cathedral is called "The Ship of the Fens" or "The Queen of the Fens".
There is now a book about a neighbouring fenland village "Three Holes"
Other Fenland websites:
The Pumping Engine at Prickwillow -
Christchurch History Notes
Go to My Cawthorn Family
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This page created 18 January 2001
& amended/updated 20:58 03/11/2013