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Wisbech, Capital of the Fens


Wisbech; Capital of the Fens, UK

There are a lot of small towns and villages around the UK, that have a lot of nearly unknown historical value. One of these not very well known locations is Wisbech. Wisbech (pronounced wiz'-beach) is a town with a population of about 19,000 in the Fenland district of Cambridgeshire/Norfolk shire. Wisbech is the "Capital of The Fens” an area of land in East Anglia which was formally marshes. The Fens, East of England, flat lowland South of The Wash. For those who are interested! The Wash is the square-mouthed estuary on the northwest margin of East Anglia on the east coast of England, ‘where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire’. 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; they attempted drainage and built a few roads across the Fens. It is amongst the largest estuaries in the United Kingdom and is fed by the Rivers Witham, Welland, Nene (goes through Wisbech) and Great Ouse.

Historical Incident
The most famous incident associated with the Wash is the loss of King John's royal treasure. According to contemporary reports, John travelled from Spalding in Lincolnshire to Bishop's Lynn, in Norfolk, was taken ill and decided to return. While he took the longer route by way of Wisbech, he sent his baggage train, including his crown jewels, along the causeway and ford across the mouth of the Wellstream. This route was usable only on the lower part of the tide. The horse-drawn wagons moved too slowly for the incoming tide, and many were lost.

The first Wisbech castle was built by William I in 1086, one of the many claims to fame, another was.
In the 17th century, the local inhabitants became known as the "Fen Tigers" (a fact my mother was very proud of) because of their resistance to the draining of the fens, thank goodness, the protests was not listened too. The project turned Wisbech into a very wealthy and busy port handling large amounts of agricultural produce and timber. As a result of flooding in the 20th centaury a drainage-improvement project (completed in the mid-1960s) was undertaken. The district is largely under intensive cultivation and agriculture is plentiful on the fertile alluvial soils.
Vegetables, fruit, and wheat were the principal crops, whilst wildlife sanctuaries were being preserved. The district is also called Fenland. In and around Wisbech in particular, much fruit is grown, especially strawberries, gooseberries, apples and plums that are sent to London and Manchester Markets.

Thomas Clarkson, the anti-slavery campaigner, was from Wisbech, educated at Wisbech Grammar School; my brother attended the same school on a scholarship.
Thomas Clarkson was one of the founder members and the first president of the very first ' Human Rights' organisation. Yet another freedom fighter from my hometown, I begin to see where my own sense of injustice comes from. Maybe it is something in that ‘Fen’ water ( I am a ‘Fen Tiger’ born and bred) we seem to breed our share at least.

Octavia Hill (Wisbech, 1838 - 1912) was a social reformer, particularly concerned with the welfare of the inhabitants of cities, specifically London in the second half of the 19th century. Hill was a moving force behind the development of social housing,
Including Council housing and also campaigned for the availability of open spaces for poor people. This resulted in the establishment of the National Trust, (who now charge a fortune for us to see what was ours in the first place) and in 1995, to mark the centenary of the National Trust, a rose was named in her honour.

Published: 2006-05-20
Author: Mel Moore

About the author or the publisher
I've been a Foster carer for twenty years and have worked/lived disturb teenagers, my inspiration comes from the children Ilived/worked with.I have written poetry for years and am now writing my first true-life novel and auto-biography. I have two books of poetry Which are;
Silent Witness ISBN: 0975830872
and Nature's Repose ISBN: 0975846426 Viewed or purchased at

My third book 'Psuedo Love' is released by Publish America, 7th June 2006

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