Tag Archives: Fens


Time for more postcodes.

PE13 and SW4.

PE is Peterborough, one I know well – I’ve lived in several different Peterborough postcodes. Peterborough itself is fairly interesting, but it’s not in PE13 so you will have to wait for details of two queens, ten saints and the aircraft factory.

Back in PE13 you might be forgiven for gasping at the sheer emptiness of it. The Fens are basically a lot of flatness topped off by a huge sky.  I lived in PE15 once so I know this from first hand experience. PE13 does a good job of looking like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but actually it’s it’s just close to the edge of nowhere.

The interesting fact isn’t that I used to rear chickens in Parson Drove, or that I nearly hit a wall one night when driving with youthful stupidity, it is that Parson Drove was the site of the last woad mill in England – it closed in 1910. The last commercial crop of woad was grown in Lincolnshire in 1932. We did look at growing it when we were on the farm but, though it’s easy enough to grow, it’s hard work to extract the dye and nobody was interested in using it.

There are other interesting facts but I like woad because of its links to the body paint of the ancient Britons.

SW4 is in London – Clapham, to be precise. I know nothing about London. I’ve visited a few times but much of my knowledge is based on watching TV or blog posts of Derrick Knight. According to Wikipedia a Roman Road runs through it, which is always interesting, and Samual Pepys lived there for a couple of years. As he had his horse stolen in Parson Drove, which he called a “heathen place”, in 1663, this forms a neat link to put the two places together.

I promise this was coincidence – this is the actual order in which we listed the parcels.

The Coming Week – a Trip to Ely

I took a lot of photographs yesterday during our trip to Ely. If we’d got up earlier, and if we hadn’t been been slowed down by my elderly bladder and the poor navigation of one who shall remain nameless I would have taken more.

In the coming week you can therefore expect a helping of Cromwellian politics, a discourse on the evils of Ely, photographs of stone faces, a description of domestic disharmony due to the distaff side’s inability to read a map, a picture of Prince Albert and his piercing look, a visit to the Stained Glass Museum and some suggestions on how the Church could finance the £6,000 a day it takes to keep the Cathedral open.

Here are some photographs to give you some idea of what is coming up.

The Faces of Crowland Abbey

While we were in the Fens on Wednesday, as you already know from previous posts, I took a few pictures of Crowland Abbey on the way past. A photogenic ruin, stone faces and a graveyard – hard to resist.

The Abbey was founded in memory of St Guthlac early in the 8th century but destroyed by Vikings in 866, an earthquake (1118) and three fires (1091, 1143 and 1170). It wasn’t all bad though, the isolated Fen location kept it safe during the civil disorder of the Middle Ages and allowed it to accumulate considerable wealth.

St Guthlac is depicted in this photograph – he’s holding the whip he used to drive the demons off the island (which is what Crowland was before the drainage of the Fens).  That’s not a blemish in the archway by the way, it’s a Jackdaw flying by.


St Guthlac -right side, second tier, statue on left


This is a cropped and enhanced piece from the picture above it, showing a close-up of St Guthlac, now protected from birds by netting.

The West Front, with its fine selection of statues was completed between the 12th and 14th centuries. Given time I could probably identify most if not all of them. I could also date statues and heads from the fashions they are wearing. That, however, is a project for the future. I need to know more about church architecture before I start on fashion of the Middle Ages.




Under Fenland Skies

We went for a trip into the Fens today. There’s not much to see apart from black soil and big skies with a few scattered houses (that always seem to need some paint or a repair to the fence).

Actually that’s not really fair. They have large agricultural buildings, reeds growing in roadside ditches and a lot of history.

I would be happy to move back, as they are actually more interesting than any town in the Midlands. The Fens are an example of what we do to the world. First we drained them, then we watched them dry out and blow away. The ground level is currently around four metres lower than it was in 1850.

Mainly they have big skies. I’ll leave you with a few photos for now. They would have been better if there had been some foreground interest like wind turbines or pylons but there was nowhere to park so I took what I could. With long straight roads and thundering lorries you need to park safely.