Seen from a train

Summer-baked-FensJust over three weeks ago, when we had our mini heatwave, I was on a train crossing the Fens. It’s an agricultural and market garden region famous for being flat.


Up to the 17th century it was wet, low-lying marshland, until drainage schemes transformed the landscape. The Earl of Bedford brought the Dutch drainage engineer, Cornelius Vermuyden, to the region and, with royal support from Charles 1, draining began around 1630. The King received 12,000 of the 95,000 acres of the reclaimed Fen land for the Crown .


The process of draining was not entirely supported by the local population but gradually over the course of the 17th century the marshland became arable, workable farmland.  Eventually, over 300 years the marshes evolved into the Fenland landscape we see today.

The sepia picture was taken from the train. The original capture looked less interesting.

I had more luck when the train pulled into Ely and was stopped for a few minutes. One day I’ll get off and go and make a long overdue visit to the magnificent Norman cathedral known as ‘The Ship of the Fens’.



Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

12 thoughts on “Seen from a train”

  1. Yes, I know some people don’t like ‘flat’, but as an East Anglian myself I love it. (Though technically speaking this part of the Fens is not true East Anglia!!) I dream of living in a house like that, but realistically I need to have an excellent, fast broadband connection and a Post Office within a 15 minute walk for my online shop and that’s rarely possible deep in the English countryside.

    1. As I expect you’ve experienced it’s an interesting process (!) trying to get usable pictures from a moving train! The King claiming more land than he should, mmm, now why would anyone think that!!!!! Of course, this particular king did lose his head to his adversary, Oliver Cromwell, who came from Huntingdon in the Fens!

      1. Well you’ve done very well with your moving pictures. I still have a vague memory of being taught about Cromwell and Roundheads as far back as schooldays, although precisely why it turned up in my primary school syllabus is beyond me. So when I tried to read Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, I was TERRIBLY confused for the first hundred pages 🙂 .

  2. Wonderful images and I am really interested in the story. On my father’s side of the family his mother’s relatives emigrated from the Welbourne area of Norfolk in the midr part of the C19th.

  3. I expect the true Fenland countryside hasn’t changed a great deal in 150 years, perhaps different more modern varieties of crops, but the towns in the region are spreading out as the population increases.

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