Fens, the

Fens, the

Fens, the, district, E England, 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.

Sutton-in-the-Isle, commonly referred to simply as Sutton, is a parish and village in the county of Cambridgeshire in England, near the city of Ely. The "in-the-Isle" suffix refers to the fact that the village is part of the Isle of Ely, once an island in The Fens and also an administrative county until 1965.


  • 1086 - The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book;
  • 1370 - The Church was built;
  • 1630 - The Fens were ordered to be drained;
  • 1774 - John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, visited the village;
  • 1790 - The Methodist Chapel was constructed;
  • 1791 - The Baptist Chapel was built;
  • 1860 - The village school was built;
  • 1866 - Railway opens;
  • 1872 - Second Methodist Chapel built;
  • 1880 - Primitive Methodist Chapel built;
  • 1914 - Third Methodist Chapel built;
  • 1935 - Primitive Methodist Chapel closed;
  • 1938 - Electricity comes to the village;
  • 1941 - Mepal Airfield constructed between the villages of Sutton and Mepal;
  • 1960s - Sutton was host to a one mile section of one of the worlds first air-cushion train tracks. The track was built to test the air suspension and used the linear induction motor of Eric Laithwaite for propulsion.
  • 1964 - Railway closes;
  • 1984 - Bypass opened;
  • 1996 - Cambridge Machinery Sales move to the village;
  • 2000 - Straw burning power station opened;
  • 2002 - Village wins East Cambs, Cambridgeshire and Calor England and Wales Village of the Year awards;

Sutton Church

The Church of the village is dedicated to St. Andrew. It has a distinctively shaped tower that often described as being the shape of a pepperpot.

Sutton Gault (Bury Lane)

Sutton Gault (Bury Lane) is a part of the parish of Sutton-in-the-Isle. It comprises a few houses and farms and an inn, 'The Anchor'. The Old Bedford River and New Bedford River pass through Sutton Gault and often flood into the land between them. It was also the site of Eric Laithwaite's magnetic levitation train tracks. The name derives from the gault clay that has been extracted from there.

The Americas

The Americas, also known as The America or just America is another part of the parish. It consists of houses and an orchard producing apple juice. Although it is treated as a separate settlement from the village of Sutton-in-the-Isle on some maps, most residents consider it part of the village and the equivalent of a street name. So far the origins of the name remain a mystery. It is known to have had its name since at least 1881 as it is mentioned in the census of that year, although the name could be much older.

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