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Issue 5 | February 2020


A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens

Inside this issue Falling for the Fens

Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust

Discover local fishing Valentine’s Day gift ideas


90s Dance Explosion with special guests

Saturday 29th February 2020 Tickets £25

Anthem: Ultimate Queen Concert Show

Boogie Nite Saturday 1 February Tickets £8* st


St Ives 1940s

Music & Dance Weekend

Friday 7th February 2020 Tickets from £22

£10 on the door

Herman’s Hermits

Best in Comedy

Psychic Sally

55th Anniversary Tour

Hal Cruttenden and guests Friday 28th February 2020 Tickets £15


21st & 22nd February 2020 Tickets from £13.50

10 Years and Counting

Friday 20th March 2020 Tickets £24

Thursday 16th April 2020 Tickets £25

SEE IT ALL AT BURGESS HALL FEBRUARY 1st 7th 8th & 9th 15th 16

Boogie Nite Anthem: Ultimate Queen Concert Show

21st & 22nd


History Fair Penfold Quiz

APRIL cont. 12th - 13th Psychic Sally 25th

Antiques Fair16th


Lace Day

Antiques Fair


Herman’s Hermits


Toy Collectors Fair

Supermatch Dog Show


Charity Concert


Tea Dance

Toy & Train Collectors Fair


MARCH 7th & 8th 13th

St Ives 1940s Music and Dance weekend


Indoor Car Boot


Tea Dance


Burgess Bingo


The Best in Comedy


90s Dance Explosion



Burgess Bingo


Big Band Concert Indoor Car Boot

29th APRIL 4th 5

Boogie Nite


Tea Dance


Shark in the Park

MAY 9th - 10th

Dance Show

14 - 17 18th 24th - 25th 30th th

Holistic Day


Centre Players Tea Dance Antiques Fair Boogie Nite

For more information and to book tickets call 01480 388111, visit One Leisure St Ives or www.burgesshall.net. Booking fees may apply. 2

Westwood Road, St Ives PE27 6WU

The Fens | February 2020

Managed by Huntingdonshire District Council

ED’S letter

A lot has changed over the years since we launched this publication. I remember walking through our local area with a blank piece of paper, telling businesses and friends that with a little imagination, this piece of paper was going to be a new magazine. Now, almost four years on, we have made several changes in response to the growing need to recycle more and be more enviromentally friendly. Towards the end of last year we decided to request that our magazines weren’t delivered to us wrapped in plastic - this made a huge difference to our own plastic waste. Did you know that you can recycle our magazines after you have enjoyed reading it? For magazines, you don’t need to remove anything from inside them, such as the staples. You can also leave the cover and binding. Here’s a couple of other interesting facts you might not know... 1. It takes just six days to turn old newspapers, books, and magazines into new ones. 2. If every person in the UK recycled just 10% more paper, we would save approximately five million trees each year. So when your new copy of THE FENS arrives, if you’re not going to keep it on your coffee table, make sure you pop it in your recycling bin...


THIS month 7 Your Neighbourhood news

32 Amy’s walk of the month

14 The Fenland landscape through the lens of a camera

34 Fame for the Great Fen

18 Gardening this month 24 Walking the Fen Edge Trail

39 Half-term activities 40 Recipe of the month

28 Theatre previews

42 Useful numbers and events guide

30 Fishing in the Fens

46 Peterborough and the poor


THE TEAM PUBLISHER / EDITOR Natasha Shiels hello@thefensmag.co.uk EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Amy Corney amy@thefensmag.co.uk PROOF READER Theresa Shiels PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Brudenell chrisbrudenellphotography.co.uk ADVERTISING SALES sales@thefensmag.co.uk 07511 662566 ACCOUNTS hello@thefensmag.co.uk 07511 662566 SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe for just £12 for 6 issues, contact us at hello@thefensmag.co.uk CONTRIBUTORS Westfield Nurseries | Eva Jordan Robert Bull | Caroline Fitton | Sara Fontanella | Richard Groom | Molly Day-Coombes |Bill Watt | Anna Bradley-Dorman | Val Fendley DISTRIBUTION 7,000 copies printed monthly. Delivered to Ramsey and the surrounding villages as well as being available for pick up at Ramsey TESCO and the library


Issue 5 | February 2020


www.thefensmag.co.uk facebook.com/thefensmag @thefensmag thefensmag

A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens

Inside this issue Falling for the Fens

Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust


Discover local fishing Valentine’s Day gift ideas Fens | February ON The | PLACES TO 2020 VISIT1

ISSUE 5 | FEBRUARY 2020 Frozen Berries

Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust

THE FENS is published by Barley Media. Care is taken to ensure that the content and information is correct, however we cannot take any responsibility for loss, damage or omission caused by any errors. Permission must be granted to reproduce, copy or scan anything from this publication. For a copy of our contributors’ guidelines please email hello@thefensmag.co.uk. Barley Media accepts no liability for products and services offered by third parties.

The Fens | February 2020


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The Fens | February 2020

Follow our projects on

Neighbourhood Office Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust, Neighbourhood Office, 25 Great Whyte, Ramsey, Cambs, PE26 1HG | Tel: 01487 814897 www.ramseyneighbourhoodstrust.org | wwww.ramseymillion.org | wwww.discoverramsey.co.uk


05.09.19 banner YNO.pdf 1

At the end of 2019 Local Trust (the organisation that manages the Big Local programme nationally) announced it was giving the 150 Big Local areas throughout the country the chance to work with ‘The Campaign for Better Transport’. We were delighted to find out that this was a result of work previously commissioned by Ramsey Million Partnership when we asked ‘The Campaign for Better Transport’ to produce a report about transport provision in Ramsey Parish. At the time some questioned our decision to spend money on ‘yet another report’ but since its production it has been; • Used as evidence to back up Ramsey’s case for keeping the number 30 bus. • Sent to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority during transport consultations. • Used by a Guardian reporter as the starting point for a feature about Ramsey’s poor bus service, which became their most read story online for several days in early 2019, gaining the attention of top government ministers. www.theguardian.com/ uk-news/2019/jan/07/need-to-signon-youll-have-to-walk-24-miles-tojobcentre • Instrumental in securing a visit from the Mayor of the Combined Authority, John Palmer, to a Ramsey Million Partnership meeting to discuss the parishes transport issues. • Used in support of a resolution, to campaign for better local bus services, at the 2019 Women’s Institute National AGM in Bournemouth. The resolution passed with a 96% majority from the organisation’s 200,000+ members and is now being campaigned for nationally. www.thewi.org.uk/ campaigns/current-campaigns-andinitiatives/get-on-board

‘On the Buses’! So, we snapped at the chance to work once again with ‘The Campaign for Better Transport’. It is a particularly opportune time as the transport strategies for the next 30 years are currently being developed by the combined authority. The work started in November 2019 when we met with Darren Shirley (CEO) and Norman Baker (former Minister for Transport) to discuss how we could ensure Ramsey was not forgotten when public transport decisions were being made. We have started with a small working group and are delighted that amongst its members are town and county councillors. Our ‘action plan’ is being finalised as we write, and we will soon be sharing it more widely. WE NEED YOUR STORIES! We want to talk to local individuals, businesses and organisations about your thoughts on public transport. Nothing makes a case stronger, or has more impact, than real-life stories. Whether you use it for work, pleasure, shopping or getting to/from services such as the hospital, Job Centre etc. It is also important that we hear from those who do not use the service - tell us why not.

9/5/2019 11:01:28 AM

Any story, idea or opinion is important to us but could be … • Why the service is important to you? • Why you don’t use the service? What would get you out of your car and onto public transport? • How our limited service has impacted you or your business/ organisation? • What difference would a better service make? • You’re fed up with being the ‘taxi of mum and dad’? • An idea you have to improve the service? etc………. We want to hear from anyone, regardless of age or whether you use the bus or not. If you are interested, please get in touch. We are happy to take written submissions, or we’ll come and talk to you. Ensuring our parish has public transport provision is vital, not only to the individuals who rely on the service, but for economic growth and for us to build a greener environment. Please contact Anna at: office.ramseymillion@gmail.com or anna.rntoffice@gmail.com | 01487 814897

The Fens | February 2020


Don’t ask me to volunteer!

We all know the feeling. You would quite like to get involved in your local community, you feel you may have a few hours here and there to spare, you would like to “give something back” but…there are so many unknowns! Will I like the other people, will they be friendly, will I be asked to do things I don’t think I can, will they expect too much of my time? All these questions and more might prevent me volunteering but I’d be wrong as these are misconceptions – many heritage sites would welcome anyone who can help, even if it was just once a year. And, there are many different ways that you can help. There are beds to be dug, chutneys to be made and visitors to greet at the Walled Garden. There are tickets to be checked, cakes to be served and exhibits to be repaired at the museum. At the 1940s Camp there is, literally, an army of volunteers over the 1940s Weekend in August and then regular volunteers at the camp for the rest of the year. At the Fenland Light Railway there’s always 8

The Fens | February 2020

plenty to do keeping the trains and the café running. The Mortuary Chapels, like other sites, is grateful to have the Community Payback team helping keep things shipshape as well as their volunteers in the secondhand bookstore and archive centre. Ramsey’s Abbey House and Lady Chapel have our newest group of volunteers who have joined a rota to keep the Abbey House library open to the public once a month from April to October. Each volunteer may do as little as 2 hours a couple of times a year but everyone plays an essential part in keeping the building open.

Watch this space! In March an event, outlining what all the community groups and organisations do - not just heritage groups! - will be held in the library. It will be a showcase for celebrating our fantastic community and everyone will be welcome to come along. If you would like to showcase your group or organisation then please contact me. Ann Cuthbert 07762 710257, promotingramsey@gmail.com

PHOENIX Did you know Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust open the library on Mondays between 10am-4pm as part of our Phoenix Project?

everyone and all ages, we would love to see some new faces join in the fun. Although there are no library staff on duty during these hours anyone is welcome to use the self-service system, wi-fi, computers, pick up information leaflets or just to sit and read a book or magazine.

10am-12pm - Job Search is on. Our team of trained volunteers are here to help assist you with all your job search needs. From help filling in applications, finding jobs to writing a C.V, we can even help you prepare for an interview. Pop along to one of our sessions and we can help get the ball rolling. We are also looking for additional volunteers to help our job searchers. If you are interested please let me know. Alternatively, if you are a local employer with vacancy, we can you with your recruitment. We also advertise vacancies – FREE of charge – on our Job Search Facebook page. 12pm – 3pm - Ramsey Crafters is our social crafting club that meet weekly for crafting, tea and chat. Come along with your favourite craft and enjoy meeting like-minded folk in a relaxed environment. 2pm – 4pm – All-a-Board games club is our afternoon social. We meet for refreshments, a mix of board games and a good laugh. Open to

Neighbourhood Office, Ramsey Library, 25 Great Whyte, Ramsey, PE26 1HG Tel: 01487 814897 Email: Phoenix & SPARKS : Alison Seery rntprojectmanager@gmail.com Ramsey Million : Anna Bradley-Dorman office.ramseymillion@gmail.com Discover Ramsey & A Journey Through Time : Ann Cuthbert promotingramsey@gmail.com Activities for Families and Young People : Val Fendley val.rntoffice@gmail.com Ramsey Community Market : Carol Aston market.rntoffice@gmail.com Websites : www.ramseyneighbourhoodstrust.org www.ramseymillion.org www.discoverramsey.co.uk

Alison Seery – Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust Project Manager Contact: rntprojectmanager@ gmail.com

What a Great End to a Golden Year! Christmas now seems to be just a distant memory but we would like to send our thanks to Ramsey Rotary for supporting our ‘Christmas Children’s Party’. Approximately 90 parents and children attended the event and enjoyed entertainment from Nisaa (Sweet Sound Events) and a visit from Father Christmas. It made a very special end to Ramsey Rotary’s 50th Anniversary year. In his letter, President Richard Hyde (MBE) wrote, “I write on behalf of all

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those Rotarians who were unable to be at the Christmas Children’s Party and say BRILLIANT! Congratulations to all concerned. An event such as this does not just happen and I am delighted you had support from the ‘A Team’! A lot of thought went into the planning, I could see from the faces of the young ones that they did indeed have a BALL…..” There’s lots more fun to come in 2020 for our younger residents. Along with our regular BOSH & CRUNCH

Facebook : Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust Ramsey Million – Big Local Crunch - Ramsey BOSH -Ramsey SPARKS Club Ramsey Timebank The Dog’s Meet Jobsearch Ramsey Ramsey Phoenix Project Discover Ramsey Twitter : @RamseyTrust @RamseyMillionBL @RamseyTimebank @discover_ramsey

youth clubs there will be some great activities - so keep an eye out for more details. Val Fendley – Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust’s Young People and Families Development Manager Contact: val.rntoffice@gmail.com The Fens | February 2020


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BURY VILLAGE HALL FILM CSSG 11th Annual Potato CLUB Day Bury Village Hall Film Club hold films throughout the year at the village hall. Doors open at 7pm for a 7:30pm screening. There’s no need to prebook, just pay £3 on the door.

The film programme until May is as follows:

This month the club are thrilled to announce they will be screening the 2019 film ‘Yesterday’ by Danny Boyle, with a Certificate 12A, on Saturday 15th February 2020.

Saturday 18th April – ‘Knives Out’ (2019) Cert 12A

Saturday 21st March - ‘Once upon a time in Hollywood’ (2019) Cert 18

Saturday 16th May – ‘Green Book’ (2018) Cert 12A (Films subject to availability) Films will be advertised in the local Library, on posters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/ burybugle/

HOSPICE FAYRE RAISES £20,000 FOR LOCAL FAMILIES NEEDING ITS CARE A local hospice has announced its Christmas Fayre has raised over £20,000 of vital funds. Staff and volunteers at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice organised the festive event in their own time to raise funds for the families they care for. Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, which is the only specialist palliative care inpatient unit in Peterborough, provides care and support for people living with life-limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families. Martin Russell, Head of Support Services at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, said: “Thank you so much to everyone involved with our Christmas Fayre – not only was it wonderful to see the local community come together, but it raised over £20,000. As a charity, all our care is given for free to those who need it, however we need to raise £2.4 million this year to keep our services running. “We are now looking ahead to this year’s Christmas Fayre and asking people if they have any unwanted Christmas gifts they could donate to it. Items such as unwanted toiletries, gift packs of candles, decorations, crackers, toys, jigsaws, slippers, scarves and jewellery would be gratefully received.” People are asked to drop their unwanted Christmas gifts off in the hospice’s reception. Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is located on Thorpe Road, Longthorpe, Peterborough, PE3 6LW. For more information please call the hospice on 01733 225 900 and ask to speak to Martin Russell. You can find out more about Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice at: www.sueryder.org/thorpehall

Cambridgeshire Self Sufficiency Group 11th Annual Potato Day 1st February 2020 All Saints Church Market Square Huntingdon PE29 3NR Doors open to the public at 10-30am. We will have 50 varieties of potato plus a seed swap, onion sets and shallots. Price for potatoes will again be £1.30 a kilo £1.00 to members. Refreshments will be on sale so you can relax and plan your potato growing in this wonderful historic church which is a central part of the Huntingdon community. Why not come along to this value for money potato day, and at the same time, find out more about the Cambridgeshire Self Sufficiency Group. Find out more at www. cambsselfsufficiencygroup.co.uk

The Fens | February 2020


Falling for the Fen Landscape A photographer for over 30 years, it wasn’t until Jamie discovered the Fen landscape that he found his deep passion for capturing it behind the lens

WORDS AND IMAGES JAMIE OVERLAND The Fens can be a desolate place. A 15,000 sq mile expanse of flat reclaimed wetlands from Lincoln in the North to Cambridge in the South, some would say it’s not the most photogenic of landscapes But the Fens also has real character, especially in the early morning mist and fog, or under dark stormy skies. In fact, it’s famous for its uninterrupted 360 degree big sky panoramas. Trying to capture the beauty in this landscape is a challenge I relish. I was born in the capital of the Fens, Wisbech, and spent my childhood helping my parents on their farm in Outwell, which is where I probably got my love for the great outdoors. I remember hiding in the dykes with my father, duck calling, on dark cold winter evenings and pike fishing in the sixteen foot drain, sitting for hours in all weathers, miles from anywhere waiting in anticipation for some movement in the float or bobbin 14 The Fens | February 2020

to disturb the eerie silence. These memories created the feeling that I now try to capture in a photograph. In Landscape photography they teach you to look for leading lines, shapes, textures, contrasts in light, mood and atmosphere. The Fens has these in abundance. What better leading lines than the long straight fenland tracks, the dykes, the drains and rivers, the plough lines or rows of newly planted potatoes. The textures of the reed beds in the marshes, the shapes of the old farm buildings sitting alone in a field, or even the World War II pill boxes now mostly overgrown and being absorbed by the Fen. We even have our own seascapes at the wash where instead of beaches and rocks, we have the mud flats revealing shapes and textures in the marshland looking out towards the vast open skies of the east. Today, there isn’t much of the original marshland fen remaining,

however, some areas do still exist and are preserved and maintained as National Nature Reserves and SSSI’s. One such place which I have visited a few times with my camera is Holme Fen, near Peterborough. Holme Fen, part of the Great Fen, is the largest silver birch forest in lowland Britain, 2.75m below sea level. Silver birch trees are very photogenic and there are plenty of compositions to find in this Fen woodland. However, the best time I have found to visit is in the early morning mist or fog. I was lucky enough to experience a lovely foggy morning in Holme Fen, where the woodland turns into an ethereal wilderness. The maintained paths and tracks aid your compositions providing great leading lines into the disappearing mist Another nearby remaining fragment of the ancient wild fen is Woodwalton Fen, also part of the Great Fen. A visit here is like entering a lost world.

Charles Rothschild, known as the ‘Father of modern conservation’, acquired this Fen and nearby Wicken Fen and established the first nature reserves in Britain. He sold Wicken Fen to the National Trust in 1899, but kept Woodwalton and it’s still kept today as a natural fen marsh and woodland. Again early morning mist and fog is perfect to capture atmospheric

one morning which depicted the tranquility of the place perfectly.

images here with a mixture of marshes, drains, lakes and natural woodland providing plenty of great compositions. It’s also full of wetland wildlife, birds and insects - I spotted this lonely swan appear from the mist

Nearby Wicken Fen, owned by the National Trust, is a haven for birdwatchers but also for landscape photographers. The iconic wind pump provides a great subject to shoot amongst the reed beds and the nearby Fens are home to a family of Konick ponies. On a frosty winter morning compositions are plentiful in this peaceful wilderness. The golden hours of sunrise and sunset create a beautiful transition from dark to light, and from cold to warmth.

JAMIE’S TOP TIPS Here’s five tips to help you take better images in the landscape. 1. Find an interesting composition Rather than just taking a snap of something that catches your eye, try to create a composition that leads the viewers eye to the subject of your shot. Whatever your subject is - a tree, bridge, building or even just and interesting sky - compose your shot so you have a leading line to it. A plough line or Fen dyke is ideal. Using shapes and angles is also a good technique.

The Fens | February 2020


2. Use the light One of the most important elements in landscape photography is light. Make sure you use the light to your advantage to enhance your shot. Look for sidelight on buildings, backlight on trees or even look for the light creating shadows. The best light is normally in the ‘golden hour’, i.e. around sunrise and sunset as it’s generally softer. That said, on a partly cloudy day lightrays over the Fen during the day can be very effective. 3. Use weather apps for predicting the best conditions In my opinion, the best conditions for good photography in the Fens are mist, fog, snow, frost or storms. These conditions can really enhance your compositions and create mood and atmosphere. As we all know, predicting the weather can be difficult but there are plenty of good weather apps to predict these conditions, as well as predicting the levels of cloud cover (for sunrise or sunset). 4. Use our big skies The Fens is famous for its big skies so use them to your advantage in your image. Taking on board tip one about finding a good composition or focal subject, use the big sky to create some mood and drama on a cloudy day. An incoming storm cloud across 16 The Fens | February 2020

the better you will get. With modern cameras you can take as many pictures as your memory card will hold so get out, take pictures and enjoy it!

the Fen can make a really dramatic and unique shot. 5. Get out, practice and enjoy the landscape The most important tip is to just get out and enjoy yourself. Walking in the landscape has so many benefits and after a hard week at work there’s nothing better than getting out with your camera and exploring the countryside. The more opportunities you can find to get out and practice,

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jamie Overland now lives on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens. Having been a keen photographer for the last 30 years, in the last four years he has discovered a real passion for landscape photography. He now tries to visit as many locations in the Fens or up on the coast of North Norfolk, sharing his journey and experiences on his YouTube channel. You can subscribe to Jamie’s channel for inspiration. Find out more at YouTube. com/jamieoverland or follow him on Facebook at Jamie Overland Photography

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Home & garden

YOUR GARDEN IN February If you’re a keen gardener February is a month filled with anticipation. The first signs of life are beginning to emerge as plants shake off their winter dormancy and wildlife begins to wake. Light levels are increasing, temperatures are rising and splashes of colour are beginning to creep back into the garden. Spring is on its way and there is plenty of preparation to do.

Looking good this month... Camellia

WHY SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Welcome in the spring with Camellias – these hardy shrubs have glossy evergreen leaves and display flowers that brighten up the winter garden and herald the end of winter. An early riser in terms of plants waking up from the winter snooze, Camellias burst into flower in February just as the rest of the garden is starting to blink its eyes at the sunshine.

ESSENTIAL JOBS FOR FEBRUARY PRUNE LATE FLOWERING PLANTS Prune late flowering shrubs such as fuchsia, hydrangea, buddleja and ceanothus. Using sharp secateurs, cut just above an outward pointing bud. Aim to remove about a third of the height of the shrub and try to maintain an even shape. Check other shrubs and remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches to keep the plant healthy. Try to avoid pruning early flowering shrubs until after they have flowered. GIVE THE LAWN A LIGHT MOW If the weather is warm you may need to start mowing. Set the cutting height on your mower to its maximum and only mow when it’s dry. Re-cutting lawn edges will also give an instant lift to the appearance of the garden.

PLANT SHRUBS AND TREES February is the ideal time to plant new shrubs and trees while they are still in their dormant state. Make sure the ground is not frozen or water logged before planting. Stakes and rabbit guards should be put in place at the time of planting to prevent damage to the root ball or bark. It’s also a good idea to check ties and stakes on existing plants and replace, tighten or slacken where necessary.

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We all know February is the month of love and One Leisure are celebrating that with their joint memberships. Whether you work out with your partner, swim with your mum or attend a fitness class with your bestie you can take advantage of their Joint Platinum memberships for just £66 per month (equivalent of £33 per person, saving 18% off a single membership). There’s NO contract and Platinum memberships include UNLIMITED gym, swimming, indoor cycling and fitness classes at all One Leisure centres PLUS there’s FREE crèche and children’s swimming as well as FREE parking and FREE Wi-Fi at all sites. Platinum memberships are £40 per month for one person or £66 per month for two people. New users (or those who have not attended for 2 years) will need to undertake an induction for £30 which includes a fitness and training plan.

Being active improves physical wellbeing which in turn can improve mental wellbeing, through feeling better in ourselves, focusing on what we want to do and dealing with

difficult times. There are plenty of activities for all ages at your local One Leisure. Children’s activities from team games to swimming lessons to half term activities, help to promote self-confidence, social skills and positive attitudes and values. There’s something for all ages and abilities, see in centre and Facebook pages for full details. Go along to One Leisure and experience PURE love this February to banish those winter blues. Their heat experience suites at Huntingdon, St Ives and St Neots offer the ultimate in luxury on your doorstep. There are experience showers to reinvigorate, sauna and steam cabins to relax you as well as therapeutic water massage and invigorating ice fountains plus there’s a heated relaxation area to relax and benefit directly from the

positive effects of heat therapy. You don’t have to be a member to take advantage of this great facility; single use passes are available for just £7.50. Their Pure membership is just £12.50 per month or £7.50 if added to an existing membership package. One Leisure will be supporting Random Acts of Kindness day with giveaways through social media and across all their centres on 17th February. Keep an eye on their social media for more information. Finally, they will be showing appreciation to Teachers and School Support staff with their schools appreciation week from 17th – 21st February. With special offers and discounts for school staff and their families.

For more information on these events find them on Facebook @oneleisureuk , call 01480 388111 or pop in to your local centre. There’s something to make you Feel Good this February at Your One Leisure. The Fens | February 2020





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New Year, new you? Looking for a fresh challenge, new skills and a great social scene to boot? Then look no further… Following its phenomenal success over the last few years, Men United in Song is back for 2020, once again raising money for Prostate Cancer UK. Launching in February, the project will sign up 40 local men with a range of previous singing experience (including none) to rehearse over 10 weeks for a charity concert at the Cresset Theatre on Saturday 9th May. To date the project has engaged hundreds of local men, raising many thousands of pounds for the charity, as well as inspiring similar projects across the country – a fantastic result! “While I'd sung karaoke before I knew that this would be very different!” says James from Market Deeping. “I learned so much in just a few weeks and made some really great friendships too. The time flew by and I didn’t think much at first about our performance but as the weeks went past the nervousness started to build! It was great to see my family in the audience and I know they enjoyed it just as much as I did…they knew most of the songs by heart as I was consciously and unconsciously singing all the time! A fantastic experience, thoroughly recommended!” “The whole experience was extremely rewarding and exciting” says Stuart from Bourne. “You get to see what

your voice is really capable of and to share a few pints with a great bunch of guys from all walks of life, who you might not normally meet. The sense of achievement when you finally get to perform in front of an audience in the concert is amazing. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.” Patrick, from Peterborough says “I was handed a leaflet outside the train station and decided I would give it a go - something different from the day to day! It was an amazing journey and the progress we made in such a short amount of time was way beyond my expectations! Doing something good for a fantastic charity while also learning to sing some really great pieces of music was a brilliant experience! Don’t hesitate, sign up today!” Men United In Song is not all about the singing or even about the fundraising, there’s a fantastic social scene too! Ultimately, it’s about a group of men getting together in a shared enterprise, which of course is the idea behind Prostate Cancer UK’s Men United campaign, and why the charity seemed such a good fit for the project. William Prideaux, director of Men United in Song, says “Year on year,

we see men of all ages from all walks of life get stuck into this project, producing fantastic results over a relatively short period of time both in terms of the progress they make and the sound they produce in the final concert and in terms of raising money for this very important charity. It’s always a real pleasure to work with them, and great fun too!” Men United In Song kicks off with introduction sessions on 27th and 29th February at the John Mansfield Campus in Peterborough. Absolutely no previous experience is required to join, just a willingness to get involved and give it your best shot! “We’re not looking for 100 percent in musicality, but 100 percent in enthusiasm” says William. “Why not give it a go, it just might be the best thing you’ve done in a very long time!” For further information contact Jo on 01733 425194 or email menunited@ peterboroughsings.org.uk Introduction sessions will be at the John Mansfield Campus PE1 4HX on Thursday 27th February (6-10pm) and Saturday 29th February (26pm). Please call/email to register. Rehearsals will be on Thursday evenings from 7.45pm-9.45pm at the John Mansfield Campus, Western Avenue, Peterborough PE1 4HX. The Fens | February 2020


Exploring the edge of the Fens

WORDS RICHARD GROOM IMAGES RICHARD GROOM Volunteers are hard at work mapping out a 300-mile walk that circles the Cambridgeshire Fens, taking you on a unique journey across landscapes, geology and human history LIFE ON THE EDGE As the name suggests, the Trail skirts the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens; places where low-lying Fenland meets land of approximately five metres above current sea level. It takes you along what was once the edge of extensive wetlands, long since lost as a result of centuries of drainage and land reclamation.

The Fen Edge Trail is the brainchild of the Cambridgeshire Geological Society, working in partnership with several local organisations including the Fenland Trust, the Great Fen and the Wildlife Trust. The Trail is a huge loop running all the way from Peakirk in the north west of the county to Isleham in the south east. It connects existing public rights of way to create a new long-distance route, broken down into manageable walks of about five miles each. Maps and descriptions for six walks are already available, with many more being developed by a team of enthusiastic volunteers. Eventually, walks along all 300 miles of the Trail will be published. Of course, you can choose to combine two or more walks in a day for a longer challenge, or just walk a mile or two if you are looking for a relaxing stroll. But the Trail is about much more than giving us a guide for pleasant country walks. The underlying concept is to provide a journey through the Fens’ unique landscape history: “From floods and glaciers to deep seas, tropical lagoons and even 24 The Fens | February 2020

Chris Donnelly of the Cambridgeshire Geological Society says: “We recognised that the Fen Edge is a place where two very different landscapes intersect, so it would be perfect as a walking route as well as the basis for studying and explaining the area’s geology.

volcanoes!” The Fen Edge Trail website also provides information about places of interest that can be visited along the Trail, and links to organisations that can help you learn more about the area.

“Whenever you visit the edge of the Fens you are likely to be near a place where the dryer, higher ground attracted settlers. The same is true of the many islands that also provided a dry place to live, such as Ely, March, Chatteris and Whittlesey, so the Fen Edge Trail includes loops around

these islands too.” These settlers wanted to be close to the wetlands so they could fish and travel around by boat, while living above the water (they didn’t have wellies in the Bronze Age). It means that as well as exploring areas of geological significance, you will be walking in the footsteps of your ancestors. Along the way you’ll see evidence of how people lived and worked hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Hillshade map showing the sea level, 5-metre and 10-metre contours

DISCOVERING A UNIQUE LANDSCAPE I walked a six-mile section of the Trail between Wistow and Warboys one January afternoon. The ground was muddy so I wore my wellies, but the fresh winter air and mostly sunny weather made up for it. Tagging along was my five-year-old cocker spaniel, who isn’t into geology but always welcomes the chance to sniff around for rabbits and game birds. Guiding me was the route description I downloaded for free from the fenedgetrail.org website. The instructions were detailed and clear. I only got slightly lost once, which is a record for me. The accompanying four-page leaflet describes places of interest along the route, while a geology and contours map explains how the landscape was created. The information provided is much more extensive than I’ve found in most commercially-produced walking books. The Fen Edge Trail volunteers are clearly investing a huge amount of time into their work. Within a few minutes it was clear why exploring the edge of the Fens makes so much sense for walkers. To my left the fields sloped away down a slight valley, while to my right the land rose upwards to higher ground. The undulating landscape is quite different from the totally flat view you experience walking deep within the Fens. Don’t get me wrong; I love miles of flat scenery and the amazing skies that the Fens are famous for. But it’s nice to

have a slightly hilly landscape to experience so close to home. The Wistow to Warboys walk is just one section of a route being mapped out from Ramsey to St. Ives. Three walks have been published so far, taking you from Ramsey to Somersham, with the remaining sections under development. Also available for download are walks near Cambridge covering the stretch from Stow cum Quy to Reach, and from Witcham to Sutton on the Isle of Ely. As more walks are published, what’s being created is a wonderful resource for anyone with an interest in local history, or those who just want to get out and enjoy a great day walking on the edge of the Fens.

BE PART OF THE TRAIL! Individuals and groups are invited to help with the Fen Edge Trail. As well as providing information about the Fens’ history, landscape, farming, wildlife or culture, you could help with designing one of the walks. Please get in touch via fenedgetrail.org if you’d like to be involved or follow them on Twitter: @fenedgetrail The Fens | February 2020


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The New Theatre has some great plays lined up this month, including an absolute favourite, Friendsical.... Get ready for some cracking new shows coming to the New Theatre in Peterborough this month. Starting things off with a ‘Bang’ is John Cleese’s writing debut. Bang Bang is delicious blend of ‘French Farce’ and ‘Fawlty Towers’, and looks set to be a hilarious new adaptation of the classic comedy. When Leontine, a respectable society lady, discovers that she’s been hoodwinked by her husband, Duchotel, who’s always pretending to go hunting but really chasing after other ‘prey’, she vows to take revenge on the philanderer! But while Duchotel’s away, his lifelong friend comes calling – and he’s on the hunt too. Will Leontine get caught in his sights, or instead set a trap of her own?

Bang Bang stars Tessa Peake-Jones who became a household name with her role as Raquel in the iconic comedy ‘Only Fools and Horses’. 28 The Fens | February 2020

Tony Gardner first made his name in comedy as part of the awardwinning comedy duo Struck off and Die. Wendi Peters is most widely known for her role as Cilla Battersby in Coronation Street and is currently appearing in the West End smash-hit musical BIG. Continuing with the comedy, the theatre will then host the 2019 Edinburgh Festival smashhit, Friendsical. The original and unique musical is a loving parody of the iconic TV show, ‘Friends’. With updates to the script and further developments to the design, Friendsical returns bigger and funnier than ever before. When Ross’ wife leaves him for another woman, he fears he will never find love again. But then Rachel runs back into his life... will he end up with his one true love? Featuring original songs such as ‘(He’s her) Lobster!’, ‘Richard’s Moustache’ and ‘You’re Over Me, When Were You Under Me?’ The gang take on naked Thursdays, a power cut, and a dinosaur convention! What could possibly go wrong? Friendsical stars Thomas Mitchells as Chandler (The Buddy Holly Story on UK Tour, Big Girls Don’t Cry on UK Tour) and Ally Retberg as Phoebe (Fame on Italian Tour), who will reprise their acclaimed roles in the hilarious show, and will be joined by a new set of friends for the 2020 tour. The new cast

consists of Ewan Gillies as Ross (Soho Cinders at Charing Cross Theatre, Normality and Sunshine, both at The Other Palace), Alexandra Robinson as Rachel (American Idiot on UK Tour, La Cage Aux Folles on UK Tour), Tanya Shields as Monica (Guys and Dolls for The Prison Project, Fantastic Mr Fox at the Lyric Hammersmith and UK Tour) and Joshua Steel as Joey (Fame on UK Tour, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium). They will be joined by Calum Gulvin (Ensemble) and Stephanie MacGaraidh (Ensemble). Bang Bang will be at the New Theatre Peterborough from Tuesday 25 to Saturday 29 February. Friendsical will be at the New Theatre from Tuesday 3 - Saturday 7 March. Tickets can be booked online at www.newtheatrepeterborough.com or at the box office on 01733 852 992.

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Fishing in the Fens

WORDS ANDY PAGE Fishing in Fenland is a popular sport which goes back centuries. Keen hobbyist and author of Podcast, ‘Tales from the Tackle Shop’, Andy shares his favourite places to catch a fish or two across the region Fenland for over two centuries has had a network of drains and connecting ditches that have effectively controlled the surrounding land from flooding. This network of water courses has become over time one of the meccas for the UK’s coarse fishermen. Sadly, over recent years, the illegal mass removal of pike has occurred mainly unchecked. The introduction of an apex predator, the otter, has caused even more complications to these fragile ecosystems. This however, has not deterred some of the main drains from showing a remarkable resilience and the angling potential on these waters is currently reaching a zenith. In this article we will introduce some of the fantastic fishing to be had in Fenland and where to find the information required to access these waters, for both local and visiting anglers alike. FISHING GEMS So let’s start our round-up of venues, and where better to start than seven miles north of Wisbech. North Level Drain is leased by Tydd Gote Angling 30 The Fens | February 2020

Club. It is a relatively shallow water that runs from Tydd Gote to Parson Drove, where it splits off into two smaller ditches. The water contains a good head of roach, bream, perch and tench. It fishes extremely well in the summer and autumn and then more localised areas during the winter months. Methods that score well on here include ledgering for the bream and tench in the summer and autumn. Brown crumb in a swim feeder with maggots, dendrobaena (a type of earth worm) and, or, sweetcorn will all work. Early morning is the best time, but please be aware that there is no night fishing on this water. The Controlling Club have a facebook page and more details can be found there. Next we head North West towards Spalding on our fishing tour. The River Welland has taken a bit of a battering by illegal fish removal over last 10 years, however it is now showing a resurgence with its roach population. The town centre of Spalding is producing some large bags of roach to pleasure anglers and I hear on the grapevine that there are a couple

of matches scheduled this winter. The roach really respond to a bread punch approach with liquidised bread as ground bait. Depending on the strength of flow on the river you may need to use fine gravel in the liquidised bread to get the ground bait down to your intended quarry. Hemp and tares can also be deadly on this water. The fishing around the town centre is free. The river fishes really well from October through to February. We are blessed to have another river packed full of roach currently, in fact it is probably the best winter natural match venue in the whole of the country. The venue is the Old Course of the River Nene, March. The river has attracted the attention of the match anglers and they hold several opens on the town stretch over the winter months. Most of these matches host up to 100 anglers at at

time. Target species are roach, Perch, skimmer bream and a sub species called silver bream (or pommies or gustos as the locals call them). Bread again scores well here, but a more precise approach of pinkies and squats (small maggots for the uninitiated), fished with a pole, is the main weapon of choice for the match anglers. Hook size needs to small size 20 or 22. Therefore, hook links need to be of a fine diameter, around 0.08-0.1mm. For us oldies, that’s around 1lb to 1lb 8oz breaking strain. Pole floats with a fine bristle need to be employed to show up bites from the hoards of small fish that inhabit this stretch. This river fishes best from October through to March. Anywhere near the town centre and the Ship Inn is worth a dabble. Just be careful as the banks are quite steep and difficult to navigate after a heavy rain, again the fishing is free. During the spring and summer months the commercial venues are well worth a visit. There is a close season on all the drains (no fishing from March 15 to June 15th inclusive). However, angling is allowed on lakes. Several man-made puddles and ponds have sprung up over the years in Fenland. Two in particular are head and shoulders above the rest.

Decoy lakes can be found between Coates and Whittlesey. It has a huge head of small to medium sized carp plus tench and even barbel. It now has 11 lakes and caters for all levels of angling ability. It has a tackle shop on site, cafeteria and if you get bored, a licensed bar. Angling rules and prices can be found on decoylakes.co.uk If you want a more relaxed,

secluded venue then Rookery Waters at Pidley is the ideal place to visit. It has four lakes to fish; each lake has completely different character. Again the main species here are carp, but they tend to be in the 1-5lb category. Each lake has a slightly different stocking, with different sizes of fish. In order to maximise your day at Pidley you need to speak to the onsite staff. Alex Bates runs his own extensively stocked tackle shop called ‘Tackle and Bates’. Alex and his father Tim will provide you with the most current information as to which lake to fish and what tactics to employ. More information about the fishery can be found on rookerywaters.co.uk ANDY’S TOP TIPS Methods on commercials are varied and dependent upon the individual fishery rules. However, a few basic principles apply to all these types of water. Firstly location is vital; the biggest feature on all lakes is the margin. Carp and tench will hug the margins, particularly if it has a reed/weed bed. The simplest tactic is to spray 20 or so maggots and/or pellets regularly to a spot tight to the margin. Make sure to feed directly to the same spot every time. Smaller fish will probably home straight onto your baited area. Do not give up, keep the bait going in and very soon the bigger species will arrive and push out the smaller stuff. Keep feeding and the bigger fish will start competing with each other. When this happens the fishing is very easy and it is a fish-a-cast. I would recommend using micro pellets bought from the venue’s tackle shop. The fish will be used to this feed and view it as a natural food source. Float fishing with a rod or margin pole is ideal. When the fish start to compete you can catch them very high up in the water, do not be afraid to shallow up and fish on the drop. Make sure you use lines strong enough to get the carp away from any snags. Again speak to

the staff at the tackle shops, they will advise you accordingly. If commercial fishing is not your thing, in the summer months then you could always attempt to catch a ‘bar of gold’. The rudd fishing in the Fens is exceptional. These beautiful creatures have grown exponentially over the last few years. A two pound rudd is now common and a three pound rudd not beyond expectations. Most, if not all, of the local drains have these specimens in them. The best approach is a float set up on a 1215ft float rod. Line of breaking strain around 4-5lb is ideal and a relatively large hook of around size 8-12 will be perfect. You will need to fish very shallow, around a foot deep with no shot on the hook link. Use bread flake as bait and bread crumb or even the crusts off the loaf are used as free offerings. You will need a pair of sunglasses, a bottle of water and great stamina as you walk the banks of some secluded drain in pursuit of this incredible fish. When fish are spotted, catapult out a few free offerings of crust. If rudd are there they will probably have a look at the offerings and if you are lucky they will start to feed. This is the time to have a speculative cast with the breadflake. If the fishing gods are smiling on you, a rudd of your dreams may just decide to make your day. Find out more For further information subscribe to ‘Tales from the Tackle shop’. This is a weekly podcast which can be found on Apple podcasts, or by searching on the podbean app. Andy Page and Alex Bates do a monthly feature on local venues and announce the local match results weekly. The podcast also has related facebook and instagram pages under the same name. Additionally, you can find more at Fenland Fishing Tv, a Youtube channel publicised by the same anglers provides videos on the different tactics and techniques needed to be continually successful on these varied waterways. Pictured above: Rookery Waters at Pidley. Middle: Andy Page with a large Fenland pike weighing 26lb 2oz The Fens | February 2020


Walk of the month

In the Bleak Mid-Winter WORDS AND IMAGES AMY CORNEY As January merges into February, the thought of Spring peeking just around the corner is enough to warm our hands and hearts. Unfortunately, Spring was a distant dream when we ventured on our next walk on a rather chilly January morning. This time we popped to Hinchingbrooke Country Park to explore more of the vast 180 acres of parkland and to seek out nature’s Winter delights. Thanks to the very wet Winter we have been experiencing most of our favourite walks require wellies and this walk was no exception. Taking a right-hand turn from the car park we entered Bob’s Wood which is dominated by Hornbeam trees with the occasional Oak and Fir tree popping up. The trees stand tall and proud dwarfing the landscape which was surrounded with a carpet of slowly decaying Autumn leaves, giving off the most wonderful earthy scent. The wood is approximately 100 years old but the majority of the original Oak trees were felled for boat building during the first World War so it likely looks very different now than it did when it was first 32 The Fens | February 2020

established. Twiggy our dog revelled in the freedom the wood offers and thoroughly enjoyed carrying fallen branches and large twigs around. Fallen and cut wood are stacked in piles which make a great habitat for invertebrates and small mammals.

Heading out of Bob’s Wood we followed the very muddy footpath into the wildlife area where dogs must be kept on leads! Here we spotted more of the friendly Grey Squirrels that inhabit the area, their cheeky spirits running high above our heads and moving much quicker than I can take a photo! Despite the gloomy weather,

there is still lots to see in the park and I particularly enjoyed the spikey Teasels and dried seed heads that dipped and bobbed in the chilly winds. On a frosty morning these would look particularly pretty. As we exited the nature area, we

Moorhens and Swans enjoying the water amongst Bulrushes, which fill the wash and make the perfect cover for the inhabitants of the park. The boggy washes sum up the ancient Fen landscape we all know and love and makes the perfect spot for our pup to paddle.

Beyond the wash mounds appear and this is a specially designed course for mountain bikers. Families were enjoying the fresh air and making the most of splashing in the muddy puddles in their wellies. Venturing on we headed through the Orchard, following the path through the hedgerows we came across an old stone bridge which leads you down to the bigger lakes. Trying to avoid our dog taking a full-on dip we turned left instead and continued the path through the woodlands. Catkins dripped from the Birch trees and despite the grey day we spotted some cheerful colour with red and white berries on bushes still providing a food source for the birds. As we neared the end of the walk the lure of a fry up came drifting from the cafĂŠ, so we decided to stop for a cheeky breakfast. The park is a lovely place to visit whether young or old and will only get more picturesque as Spring arrives and everything bursts into life. followed the path between the wash and the wildlife lake. The wetlands at the park are made up of two large lakes totalling 36 acres as well as smaller ponds, lakes and a brook. The

wash was dug around 1997 as a shallow water body perfect for Dragonfly and Damselflies. Here the wash is brimming with bird life activity and we spotted

Distance: 1.5 Miles/ 2.4 KM Terrain: Pavements, woodlands, grass Time: 1.5 hours Cost: Parking fee The Fens | February 2020


Images Caroline Fitton and Wildlife Trust


Starring role for the Great Fen WORDS Caroline Fitton, The Wildlife Trust

Did anyone spot the Great Fen on television last month? Popular BBC1 programme ‘Antiques Road Trip’ came to the region in early January, and, as well as trawling antiques emporiums and outlets across the region, also visited places of national interest and importance along the way.

Lorna Parker and they filmed at Rymes Reedbed where Jules heard about all the species which can be seen from this double-height bird hide, from short eared owls to myriad butterflies and dragonflies. They travelled on to film at the Rothschild bungalow, where Jules joked that this could be the final ‘mystery house/property’ on the programme! Look out for the new series (which this episode is part of) to be broadcast later in the year. See Antiques Road Trip at www.bbc. co.uk/programmes/m000d2rm (Gt Fen section 24 mins in). And read about Rothschild’s legacy at www. wildlifetrusts.org/about-us/ourhistory

So it was that on Friday 10 January antiques expert James Braxton visited the Great Fen and learned all about the history of British conservation through the vision of philanthropist and conservationist Charles Rothschild. Rothschild bought the fragment of fen, Woodwalton Fen, now at the heart of the Great Fen, back in 1910 in an act of far reaching vision when he realised that this habitat was fast disappearing. The society he founded in 1912 became the forerunner of The Wildlife Trusts movement we know today. He met up with research and monitoring officer Henry Stanier who talked him through all the work at the Great Fen – and they had time for spot of pond dipping. Earlier last year BBC1’s ‘Escape to the Country’ also came to the Great Fen to learn all about the rich heritage of conservation and the ongoing fenland restoration. Presenter Jules Hudson met restoration manager

34 The Fens | February 2020

NEW BOOK ABOUT THE GREAT FEN An enthralling new read about the Great Fen is just out, exploring how this Cambridgeshire fenland has evolved through population growth, war, drainage and cultivation to the landscape of today. The Great Fen: A Journey Through Time, by Alan Bowley (retired Natural England senior reserves manager, Woodwalton Fen), traces stories of people and wildlife and shows how we can learn from the past and asks what future do we want for ourselves and the non-human world. Alan Bowley writes: “After almost three years intensive research it is great to see this book published - both a celebration of the achievements of our ancestors as well as a cautionary tale of the consequences of our fractured relationship with the natural world. For 8,000 years successive generations on the fenland have met the challenges of their time, resulting in a skilful use of the reeds and water until drainage. As technology led to

more intensive use of the land and loss of wetland, champions emerged who warned of the pressures faced by wildlife, soil and people themselves, as the close connection between them became eroded. Throughout the 20th century, protected sites have striven to protect our wildlife but with limited success. The vision of Great Fen is a beacon both for the future of some of Britain’s most unique wildlife but also the changes which modern societies need to make if we are to continue to live in a world rich in natural resources. Bitterns and business can live together and this book provides the background as to how this can be achieved.” Wildlife Trust BCN chief executive Brian Eversham says: “The Fens have changed dramatically since the ice age, from tundra to high forest to raised bogs and to intensive farmland. This important book explores the impacts of the changes on the wildlife and people who have lived in the Fens, and provides deep insights into the outstanding nature reserve of Woodwalton Fen. It looks forward to a new and wildlife-rich future for this corner of the Fens; future changes are likely to be as dramatic, and much more ecologically rewarding, than the recent past.” Order at www.naturebureau.co.uk/thegreat-fen-a-journey-through-time Get Mindful at the Great Fen, Friday 21 February, 10am-3pm Participants will be led through Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy techniques whilst enjoying the beauty and serenity of the surroundings in the Great Fen. £3 per person; for info and booking please contact 01487 815524 or info@greatfen.org.uk www.wildlifebcn.org/events/2020-0221-mindfulness-walks-great-fen


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Space cadets, get ready for half-term blast off at Queensgate!

Queensgate Shopping Centre is ready to moon-rock your world this February half term, with a FREE intergalactic event just perfect for your curious little astronaut wannabes! The space-themed event, called ‘A World Of Imagination’, will give kids the chance to see the solar system in a giant dome, experience space using virtual reality masks, handle meteorites and even have a taste of space food too! Little ones will get to dress up in astronaut costumes to take part in 30-minute workshops inside the space dome which will be in North Square,

Nene Park Survival Challenge

outside John Lewis & Partners and Superdry. It will take place on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 February from 11am4pm. There’s no need to book, you can just turn up on the day – and every child will receive a space certificate before they leave! Rebecca Keefe, Marketing Manager at Queensgate Shopping Centre said: “If you’re wondering how we manage to put on events like these, it’s quite simple really … we just planet! These free events are a great way to bring families together and we hope you all enjoy this one, it’s going to be a blast!” To find out more, visit www.queensgate-shopping.co.uk

Come along and try a mix of bushcraft activities and find out how to survive outside on February 17th at 10am to 1pm at Ferry Meadows in Peterborough. The session will be based around the of elements of survival, shelter, water, fire and food. Learn how to keep yourself dry and warm by building a natural shelter, making a fire and cooking on the fire. The cost is £14 per child and it is open to over 8s. Pre-booking is essential. Find out more by visiting www.nenepark.org.uk or telephone 01733 234193.

Hunt for clues

If survival isn’t your thing, the park is also holding a holiday trail on February 15th between 10am and 3pm. Collect a trail sheet from the Visitor Centre and then hunt for clues as you walk around Ferry Meadows. Return to the Visitor Centre to claim your prize. The trail sheet costs £1.

What is a Wellyphant? at Peterborough Museum What is a Wellyphant you ask? Find out as you join in with the creation of a story inspired by Nick Sharratt (the man behind the instantly recognisable illustrations for Jacqueline Wilson’s Tracy Beaker books). Get kids jotting, doodling, scribbling as they make the characters come alive and discover new ones along the way! The ‘Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants’ exhibition gives visitors the chance to immerse themselves in Nick’s world, find out about his childhood and what inspired him to become an illustrator, and meet a host of the characters that he has created throughout his career. The exhibition at Peterborugh Museum is free but during half-term there are charges for the Wellyphant activities. The ‘What’s a Wellyphant?’ activities

runs from Monday 17th to Friday 21st February. Entry for this is £3 children, £4 adults, £12 families (2 adults up to 3 children), various times. Book online at www.vivacity.org or call 01733 864663. Exhibition opening times: Tues - Sun (incl. Mondays on Bank Holidays and during school holidays) 10am - 5pm (last admission 4.30pm)

The Fens | February 2020



Vietnamese belly pork For a twist you could experiment with different textures or, if time is against you, try cooking the pork at 135oC for 4.5 hours or even 200oC for one hour. It’s also great with chicken (just don’t cook it until the finishing stage). Fish would also work well (think whole seabass!). Why not make the dipping sauce for spring rolls!


1kg belly pork cut into 1inc cubes Marinade: 1 bulb of garlic peeled and crushed 2inch piece of root ginger grated finely juice of two lime 100g soft brown sugar 100ml light soy sauce 20g salt


6 shallots finely chopped 4 cloves of garlic chopped 1 inch root ginger chopped 1 tbls caster sugar 4 spring onions finely sliced 1tbls sesame oil


2 cloves of garlic crushed 2 chillies of your choice sliced 2tbls caster sugar 2 tbls lime juice 3 tbls fish sauce 3 tbls rice vinegar Fresh mint to finish 40 The Fens | February 2020


1. Mix the pork in with all the marinade ingredients and leave covered in the fridge overnight.

the dipping sauce (just simply mix the sauce ingredients together).

2. The next day remove the pork from the marinade and place on a baking tray. Cover firstly with baking parchment then with kitchen foil. Bake at 80c for 8 hrs or overnight (see the twist for other options). Allow ribs to cool. 3. To finish, place all the ingredients in a pan (wok is good) and fry hot until the belly pieces are sticky and golden. Serve with either rice or more traditionally, French stick, and

Eat, drink, stay!

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The Fens | February 2020



Editorial Policy Summary •All items are included entirely at the discretion of the editor who reserves the right to edit or refuse to print any item submitted. •The Fens Magazine cannot accept any liability for omissions, errors or mistakes which occur in production. •All materials contained within are strictly copyright, all rights reserved. Production in whole or part without permission of The Fens Magazine is prohibited.

24 Hour Emergency Number 01480 52222 Age UK Cambridgeshire 0300 6669860 Care Network Cambridgeshire 01480 423065 Caring Together (Carers Trust) 03452 410954 Citizens Advice Bureau 0344 2451292 Cromwell Vets 01487 814789 Huntingdon Job Centre 0843 5092446 Hunts Forum 01480 420601 Life Amid Debt (LAD) 07768 681564 Locality 01480 376209 Luminus Group 0345 2669760 Muir Housing 01480 453234 One Leisure 01480 817900 Police Emergency 999 Police Non Emergency 101 Ramsey Child & Family Zone 01480 379420 Ramsey Community Bus 01487 711330 Ramsey Community Warden 07900 340265 Ramsey Food Bank 01487 812818 Ramsey Library 0345 0455225 Ramsey Million* 01487 814897 BOSH/CRUNCH 07955 817137 Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust* 01487 814897 Ramsey Post Office 01487 812549 Ramsey Volunteer Bureau 01487 814117 The Bobby Scheme 01480 413311 Stagecoach 01223 433250 Swearers Funeral Services 01487 812239 The Ramsey Initiative 01487 813612 WI Centre 01480 453137 Health Addenbrookes 01223 245151 Hinchingbrooke Hospital 01480 416416 Peterborough City Hospital 01733 678000 Rainbow Surgery 01487 710980 Ramsey Dental Surgery 01487 812312 Ramsey Health Centre 01487 812611 Village Halls/Community Centre Bury Village Hall 01487 813848 Ramsey Community Centre 01733 844816 Ramsey Forty Foot Village Hall 01487 814637 Ramsey Mereside Village Hall 01733 844459 Upwood Village Hall 01487 815475 Wistow Village Hall 01487 822708 Schools/Child Care Abbey College 01487 812352 Ashbeach Primary 01733 844262 Bury C of E Primary 01487 813784 Bury Play Group 07733 360836 Busy Bee Day Nursery 01487 711643 Head Start Nursery 01487 710709 Ramsey Pre School 01487 710160 Ashbeach Ladybirds Pre School 01733 219900 Ramsey Junior School 01487 812500 Ramsey Spinning Infants 01487 813587 The Ramsey Day Nursery 01487 710422 Upwood Playgroup 01487 813510 Upwood Primary School 01487 813510 Councils Ramsey & Bury County Councillor County Cllr. Adela Costello 01487 813124 Ramsey & Bury District Councillors District Cllr. Steve Corney 07795 057440 District Cllr. Jeff Clarke 07802 398259 District Cllr. John Palmer 01487 814063 Warboys District Cllr. Jill Taverner 01487 823082 District Cllr. Graham Bull 07780 511928 Ramsey Mayor - Cllr.Steve Corney 01487 814957 Ramsey Town Council 01487 814957 Parish Council - Clerk 01487 812447 Bury Parish Council 01487 813278 Wistow Parish Council 01487 812877

42 The Fens | February 2020




• Garden parties • Event catering • Wedding catering • Corporate hospitality • Funeral and Wake catering


Excellent range of buffets and extras:

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Call: 07930 494076 | 01733 206658 Email: richard@thefenlandroaster.co.uk Or visit www.thefenlandroaster.co.uk



WHAT’S ON Include your event for free by emailing hello@thefensmag.co.uk FRIENDS OF RAMSEY LIBRARY COFFEE MORNING Saturday 1st February 10.15-12.30pm CROWNS AND GOWNS - AN EXHIBITION Saturday 1st February - Sunday 15th March

A fabulous collection of costumes, jewels, props, behind the scenes footage and memorabilia from some of the major Hollywood movies filmed at Ely Cathedral. Exhibition Opening Times Monday to Saturday: 9.30am to 4.00pm Sunday: Midday to 3.45pm Box Office: 01353 660349 www.elycathedral.org

CRAFTY CRITTERS Sunday 2nd February 2pm - 3:30pm

‘Crafty Critters’ junior craft session at Ramsey Library Thursday 20th Feb 2pm-3.30pm, £1per child, Ages 3-12, children must be accompanied by an adult

RAMSEY ABBEY HERITAGE WINTER TALK Wednesday 5th February, 3:30pm and Tuesday 11th February, 7pm

Find out about the history of our once magnificent Abbey. Talk held at Ramsey Library. This event is free although tickets need to be booked through www. eventbrite.co.uk and search for Ramsey Heritage or contact: Ann Cuthbert on 07762 710257 or email promotingramsey@gmail.com


The very best of floor-filling soul and Motown tracks from the classic years of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Make it a date at the Ivy Leaf Club, Whittlesey and bop, glide and step in the themed

decor, with three top DJs Ian Gray, John Bradley and Andy Coulson, spinning absolutely cracking tunes. Dress up if you fancy it..... how about coming as your favourite iconic celebrity from the era, or even dressing just like you did back in your glitzy disco days? Add in real ale and cocktails and you’ll know it’s not a night to miss! Get your tickets from: · The Ivy Leaf Club, Gracious Street, Whittlesey · Larry’s Heel Bar, Broad St, Whittlesey · Bob’s Records 16 Broad St, Whittlesey For info contact Ivy Leaf Club 01733 202579; Andy 07941 629660; or Bob’s Records 07802 354220. Tickets £6 in advance or £8 on the door. See the Facebook page for more details

RAMSEY TUNNELS HERITAGE WINTER TALK Wednesday 19th February, 3:30pm

Find out about Ramsey’s tunnels, why they are they and how they were built. Talk held at Ramsey Library. This event is free although tickets need to be booked through www.eventbrite.co.uk and search for Ramsey Heritage or contact: Ann Cuthbert on 07762 710257 or email promotingramsey@gmail.com

An illustrated talk covering the history and restoration of Ramsey Walled Garden from its Victorian heyday, through its slow decline and reawakening as the beautiful, peaceful secret garden it is today. Talk held at Ramsey Library. This event is free although tickets need to be booked through www. eventbrite.co.uk and search for Ramsey Heritage or contact: Ann Cuthbert on 07762 710257 or email promotingramsey@gmail.com

MODEL RAILWAY EXHIBITION Saturday 14th March, 10am - 4:30pm

March & District Model Railway Club present their exhibition at Westwood Community Junior & Infant School, Maple Grove, March, Cambs, PE15 8JT. Layouts in many gauges, Trade stands, Demonstrations, External steam traction rides. Refreshments etc. Free Parking available. Entrance: Adults £5.00, Children: £2.00, Family (2 Adults + 3 Children) £10.00. Info at www.mdmrc.co.uk

FISH & CHIP SUPPER & QUIZ NIGHT Friday 28th February, 6:30pm quiz at 7pm

At Ramsey Library, £8.50 pp including fish & chips, quiz starts 7pm doors open 6.30pm, Tickets must be purchased in advance from Ramsey Library, Teams of six max, Raffle.


An afternoon of history and nostalgia as librarian Rosie Veitch delves into the East Anglian Film Archive. This event is free although tickets need to be booked through www. eventbrite.co.uk and search for Ramsey Heritage or contact: Ann Cuthbert on 07762 710257 or email promotingramsey@gmail.com


GARDEN WILDLIFE TALK Wednesday 25th March at 7:30pm

The RSPB Huntingdonshire local group welcomes Peter Holden MBE to talk about how wildlife can benefit from our garden activities. During an incredible 40 year RSPB career, Peter has co-authored more than a dozen books, appeared on Blue Peter and Springwatch, run the RSPB’s junior membership programme, and devised the Big Garden Birdwatch. The evening will also include: - A chance to buy Peter’s book on garden wildlife - An intermission with tea, coffee and snacks - A raffle and items for sale St Ives Free Church, PE27 5AL £4 entry (free to local group members) The Fens | February 2020


REGULARS MONDAY Acorn Cancer Support Group v 1st Monday of the month (2nd if Bank Holiday) 11:15 - 1pm. Rainbow Resource Centre. For details call 07739 934524 Ramsey & District Garden Club v 3rd Mon of month, 7:30pm Ramsey Community Centre [ 01487 710702 Women’s Section Royal British Legion v 3rd Mon, 7:30pm, British Legion [ 01487 812143 Ramsey WI v 2nd Mon of month, 7:30pm Ramsey Community Centre Time Out v 2nd & 4th Mon 9:30am11:30am Great Whyte Baptist Church [ Peter + Valerie 01487 812323 Ramsey Senior Road Runners v Every Mon & Weds 7pm9pm, Bedford Room, One Leisure Centre [ 01487 812829 Bingo - Mereside Village Association v Mon fortnightly, 7:30pm Mereside Village Hall Trekkers (7-11 years) v Every Monday term time 6:30-7:30pm, School Room, Salem Baptist Church [ 01487 815568 Handbell Playing v Every Monday 7-9pm Upwood Church 1st Bury Brownies v Monday 6-7:30pm, Bury Church Hall [ 01733 844850 Yvonne Toddlers v Every Mon 9.30-10.30am Thomas a Becket Church 1st Bury Guides v Monday 7:30-9pm, Bury Church Hall [ 01733 844850 Yvonne Sweaty Mamma’s v 10 -10.45am, Mereside Village Hall [ Rosie - 07963 468740 Ramsey Crafters [ Every Monday 12-3pm Ramsey Cricket Club [ 01487 710851 / 01487 814633 44 The Fens | February 2020

For up to date information about news and events www.discoverramsey.co.uk

Ramsey Tennis Club v Every Monday 6pm, Abbey Grounds [ 01487 209369 Caring Together - Ramsey Family Carers Hub v 3rd Monday of the month, 11am-1pm, Ramsey Library [ 01480 499090 Yoga Class v Every Monday 7-8:15pm, Ramsey Junior School [ Debbie 01487 812218 Ramsey Rockets, Netball Club v Every Monday 8-9pm One Leisure Astroturf [ Jo.rose4@btinternet.com Little Miracles, After School Sports v Every Monday 5-6pm One Leisure, Ramsey [ Amy - 07715 306112 TUESDAY Crossroads (4-7 years) v Every Tuesday term time 3-4:30pm, School Room, Salem Baptist Church Christian Meditation Group v Every Tues, 7.30-8.30pm Sacred Heart Church, [ mrsestorey@gmail.com Line Dancing v Every Tuesday 8-9:30pm Ramsey Mereside Village Hall Ladies Meeting v Every Tuesday 2:30-4pm Great Whyte Baptist Church [ Peter/Valarie 01487 812323 or Pauline Nixon 01487 814030 University of the Third Age v 2nd Tues 2pm Ramsey Community Centre [ ramseyu3a.org.uk Ramsey Child & Family Zone, Stay, Play & Learn v 10 - 11.30am, Ramsey Community Centre, £2 [ 01480 372700 Rotary Club of Ramsey v Every Tuesday 7:30pm Ramsey Golf Club [ 01480 460843 511 Air Cadets, Ramsey v Tuesday & Thursday, 7-9pm Redebourn Lane, Bury [ 01487 710776 Bell Ringing, St Thomas a Becket Church v Tuesdays (Except Holy Week) 7.30-9pm

[ Cathy 01487 814860 [ Paul 01487 813372 Ramsey Child & Family Zone Bumps & Babies v 1.30pm-3pm, Ramsey Library [ 01480 3727000 Ramsey Senior’s Lunch Club v Every Tuesday & Thursday Rainbow Resource Centre [ 07748 837899 Toddlers, Mereside Village Association v Every Tuesday 2:30pm, Mereside Village Hall [ 01733 844816 Food Bank v Every Tuesday,10am 12noon, Thomas a Becket Church 1st Ramsey Rainbows v Tuesdays 5.15 - 6.30pm, Ramsey Methodist Church [ 01733 844850 Yvonne 1940s Volunteer Day v Every Tuesday 10am, The Camp, Wood Lane [ 07881 730047 2nd Ramsey Brownies v Tuesdays 6-7:30pm, The Scout Hut [ Ann Patmore 01487 815878 [ Wendy Nicholls 01487 814547 Upwood Table Tennis Club v Tuesdays 7:30-10pm Upwood Village Hall [ 01487 815833 Ann56dea@gmail.com Ramsey Cycling Club v Every Tues & Thurs 7pm, Bus Bay, Abbey Road, Ramsey [ Paul: 07707 598621 WEDNESDAY Ramsey St Mary’s WI v 3rd Weds, 7:30pm, The Barn, Ashbeach School [ 01480 453137 Upwood Table Tennis Club v Wednesdays 2-4:30pm Upwood Village Hall [ 01487 812923 hollyhouse.upwood@tiscali. co.uk Ramsey Senior Citizens Club v 1st Wednesday of month 2pm (Except Jan & Aug) Bury Village Hall [ 01487 711649


Dementia Cafe v 1st Weds of month 10-12pm Rainbow Resource Centre [ 01487 415235 Bingo Evening St Mary’s Church, Ramsey St Mary’s v 2nd Wednesday, 7:3010pm, Ashbeach Barn [ 01487 711548 Wistow WI v 2nd Weds, (Except August) 7:30pm, Wistow Village Hall [ 01487 822828 Becket Senior Lunches v 3rd Wednesday of month St Thomas a Becket Church [ 07763 205042 Ramsey & District Stroke Support v 3rd Weds of month 2pm, Rainbow Resource Centre [ 01487 815274, Parkinson’s UK Ramsey Support Group - Medication Review Clinic v 2nd Weds, 2-4pm Rainbow Resource Centre [ 01480 896735 Ramsey Rangers v Alternate Weds, 8pm9:30pm Royal British Legion Club [ 01733 844850 Yvonne 1st Ramsey Scouting Group, Beavers v Every Weds 5:45-7pm (Term time only), Scout Hut, Little Whyte [ 01487 813435 1st Ramsey Scouting Group, Cubs v Every Weds 7:10-8:30 (Term time only), Scout Hut, Little Whyte [ 01487 813435 Bury Carpet Bowls v Weds 7:30-9.30pm [ 01487815363 or 01487822450 Upwood Brownies v Wednesdays 6-7:30pm Upwood Village Hall [ 01733 844850 Coffee Morning v 1st Weds, 10-12pm Ramsey Mereside Village Hall Noah’s Ark - Mums & Toddlers v Every Weds 9.30 -11am Term Time, Great Whyte Baptist Church Hall [ 01487 812689 Young Farmers Club v Every Wednesday, Various Locations [ Jordon 07717 723266 [ Tris 07743 655337

1st Ramsey Brownies v Weds 5:30pm-7:00pm Ramsey Junior School [ 01733 844850 Yvonne 2nd Ramsey Guides v Weds 7-8:30pm Royal British Legion club [ 01733 844850 Yvonne Urban Dance Academy v 3 to 4 years, 4-4:30pm v 5 to 6 years, 4:30-5:15pm v 7 to 8 years, 5:15-6pm v 9 to 10 years, 6-6:45pm v 11+, 6:45-7:30pm Ramsey Community Centre [ UDA 07776 122841 Indoor Carpet Bowls v Every Weds 7:45-10pm Ramsey Forty Foot Village Hall [ 01487 813085 Ramsey Junior Road Runners v Weds 7:30-8:30pm Bedford Room, One Leisure Centre [ 01487 812829 Craft club v Every second Weds of each month, Ramsey Mereside Hall [ 01733 844459 Junior Youth Club v Weds (1st, 3rd and 4th of each month) 5.457.15pm , Ramsey Mereside Hall [ Louise Clark themeresider@aol.com Senior Youth Club v Weds (1st, 3rd and 4th of each month) 7.30 - 9pm, Ramsey Mereside Hall [ Louise Clark themeresider@aol.com 1st Warboys Rainbows v Weds Warboys Church 5 - 6pm [ 01733 844850 Yvonne 1st Warboys Brownies v Weds Warboys Church 6.15 - 7.45pm [ 01733 844850 Yvonne Ramsey Friendship Centre v Weds (except first week in month) 10am-12noon. Ramsey Methodist Church hall. Transport available. [ 01487 711330 Upwood Table Tennis Club v Weds 2pm – 4:30pm Upwood Village Hall [ 01487 815833 THURSDAY Messy Church - Fun & Food for Juniors v Second Thurs 3.30-5pm Scout Hut, Little Whyte [ 07859 594227 Warboys Friendship Club

v 10-11.30am, Warboys Parish Centre [ Ann Doyle 01487 823176 Salem Baptist Chapel Oasis (People over 50) v 2nd & 4th Thursday 2pm High Street, Ramsey [ 01487 815568 Abbey WI v 1st Thursday of month 2pm Bury Village Hall [ 01487 813848 Little Lambs Toddler Group v Every Thurs 9:30am, Salem Baptist Church, High Street, Ramsey [ 01487 815568 Ramsey Choral Society v Every Thursday 7:309:30pm, Ramsey Junior School [ 01487 813819 Ramsey Camera Club v Fortnightly (Except School Holidays) 8-10pm, Ramsey Community Centre [ 01487 711706 Ramsey Rural Museum Open Day v Every Thursday 10-5pm, April to October, Wood Lane, Ramsey [ 01487 815715 Ramsey Reading Ring Book Group v 1st Thurs of month 10:30am, Ramsey Library [ 0345 0455225 Papworth Trust Fun United Youth Club - for young people with additional needs v Every Thursday 7-9pm Holy Cross Parish Church Hall [ 0800 952500 Ramsey Yarners v Every 3rd Thursday 2pm Ramsey Library [ 0345 0455225 Knit n Natter v Alternate Thurs 10am –12pm Ramsey Mereside Village Hall So nSews v Alternate Thurs 10am 12.30pm, Ramsey Mereside Village Hall Ramsey Forty Foot Brownies v 6-7:30pm, Ashbeach School Barn [ 01733 844850 Yvonne Line Dance Classes v Every Thursday 1:45-3pm Warboys Sports & Social Club [ 01487 824143/ 01480 494367 Ramsey Bridge Club v Every Thurs 7-10:30pm Bury Village Hall,

[ 01487 824002 Food Bank v Every Thurs,10am12noon, Thomas a Becket Church Abbey Ukuleles v Every Thurs, 7-9pm, Ramsey Golf & Bowls Club [ 07887622077 FRIDAY Hunts Mind v Fri, 10-11am, Ramsey Library [ 01480 470480 Bury Table Tennis Club v Every Friday 7 -10pm Bury Village Hall [ Roger Albone 01487 813428 Rhymetime at Ramsey Library v Friday (term time)10.3011am (0-2ys), 11.1511.45am (2+) [ 0345 045 5225 Child Health Clinic v Friday 9.30 – 11am Ramsey Library [ 01480 357152 Little Bugs Club v Every Friday, Countryside Centre, 10.30am-12noon [ 01487 815524 SATURDAY & SUNDAY Ramsey Rural Museum (April - October) v Saturday & Sunday 25pm, Wood Lane, Ramsey [ 01487 815715 Open Door - Drop in for Coffee v 3rd Saturday of month 10-12pm, Ramsey Methodist Church [ 01487 813833 Salem Baptist Chapel v Sunday School - 9:45am Morning Service - 10:45am Evening Service - 6:00pm High Street, Ramsey [ 01487 815568 Ramsey Walled Garden v Every Sunday & Bank Holidays Easter - Oct Wood Lane, Ramsey [ 01487 813054 Little Miracles, Family Session v Every Sat 10:30 -12pm Ramsey Methodist Church [ Amy - 07715 306112 Bury Rainbows v Saturdays 9:15-10:30am Bury Church Hall [ 01733 844850 Yvonne AA v Every Saturday, 7pm, Thomas a Becket Church Great Fen Wildlife Watch

v Every 2nd Sat 10-12pm Countryside Centre. (No meeting in August). Now taking children from Primary Schools, parents must stay with children under 8 yrs old. Cost is £3 per child or £5 a family (siblings) [ 01487 710420 Ramsey Mortuary Chapels v First Sun, Easter-Oct, 2-5pm Wood Lane, Ramsey [ 01487 814304 Heritage First Sunday v First Sunday - April to October www.discoverramsey.co.uk Great Whyte Baptist Church v Sunday Service, 10.45am [ 01487 812323

REGULARS Job Search v Mon & Wed 10am-12pm Ramsey Library [ 01487 814897 All-a-Board Games Club v Monday 2-4pm, Ramsey Library SPARKS v Monday 7-9pm, Ramsey Methodist Church The Dog’s Meet v Tuesday 10am-12pm, Ramsey Cricket Club [ 01487 814897 BOSH v Thurs (Term-time) 4.306pm Ramsey Cricket Club [ 01487 814897 CRUNCH v Thurs (Term-time) 7-9pm Ramsey Cricket Club [ 01487 814897 Community Market v Sat & Thurs 7am-1pm Great Whyte [ 01487 814897 Toddler Time v First Sat of the Month, Ramsey Community Centre [ 01487 814897 Ramsey Crafters v Mondays, 12-3pm, Ramsey Library [ Contact 01487 814897 Boxing Fitness v Wednesdays 6-7pm (7-10yrs - £1.50 per session) and 7-8.30pm (11-16yrs - £2 per session), Ramsey Methodist Church Hall [ Contact val.rntoffice@ Information is believed to be correct at time of printing, please contact us if anything needs amending at hello@thefensmag. co.uk . Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust and The Fens Magazine does not endorse any of the services/organisations within this publication.

The Fens | February 2020




Peterborough and the Poor Part One

his month I thought I would try to give a voice to the people we rarely here from in history; the poor and dispossessed. Of course, their story can only be told in generalities; in their collective experiences and lives. Not as particular individuals like Kings, Queens, Noblemen, Senior Courtiers and very, very wealthy Merchants. Not withstanding the limitations imposed by the simple fact that the poor and serfs have no individual history,

3-7 million, with a general consensus towards the higher figure. Most historians agree that the Black Death killed between 30-45% of the population. A truly shattering event due to its effect on the availability of manpower, which came from the serf class. And the serfs were largest, single population group in medieval society.

their story is as important to history and the slow development of our society as is the afore- mentioned “Big Players”. In this, the first story, I will try to give an idea of the general life conditions of that group in that day’s society. To do so I will tell their story in episodes; as there is quite a bit of story to tell.

the production, sale and taxation of various items in Medieval England. It is a unit of measurement still used in different parts of the world, including South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The one event in mediaeval times, prior to the Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, that had an earthshattering effect on society, was the Black Death. This event effectively marked the beginning of the end for serfdom. Prior to the Black Death the estimates for the population are 46 The Fens | February 2020

In this piece you will note that I refer to a “Hundred”. This was an English unit of measurement used in

The origins of organised Parochial Poor Relief extend as far back as the 15th century. With the decline and final dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 and the breakdown of the medieval social structure, also caused by HenryVIII’s momentous break with the Roman Catholic Church. The dissolution of the monasteries and the seizure of their wealth by Henry enabled him to create a totally new wealthy,

monied class who were bound to support Henry. After the Black Death several acts were passed aimed at forcing able bodied men to work and keep wages at their old levels. These steps were counter productive as it encouraged labourers to move around the country looking for work in places where wages were higher, and the labour laws were less strictly enforced. Some took to begging under the pretence of being too ill to work or being crippled. In 1349 the “Ordinance of Labourers” prohibited private individuals from giving relief to able bodied beggars. In 1388 the Statute of Cambridge introduced regulations restricting the movement of all Labourers and Beggars. Each county “Hundred” became responsible for relieving its own “Impotent” poor. Servants wishing to move out of their own “Hundred” needed a letter of authority from their local Justice of The Peace, allowing them to do so. Failure to provide this risked being put into the stocks. The consequences being that beggars could not pretend to be labourers, nor to be invalids; both of whom needed

permission to wander. This 1388 Act is often regarded as the first English Poor Law. However, due to a lack of enforcement it had limited impact and effect. Over the next two centuries further legislation followed. In 1494 the “Vagabonds and Beggars Act” was passed. This determined that “Vagabonds, idle and suspected persons shall be set in stocks for three days. Their only sustenance being bread and water; then being put out of town. Every beggar suitable to work shall resort to the “Hundred” where he last dwelled, if known; or was born and there remain. Worse was to follow – in 1547 the “Statute of Legal Settlement” declared a beggar could be branded or made a slave for two years. If he or she absconded and was then caught – slavery for life awaited. “Foolish pity and mercy” towards vagrants were also condemned. However, on a more positive note, cottages were to be erected for the impotent poor and they were to be relieved or cured. To be continued...


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48 The Fens | February 2020

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The Fens Ramsey February 2020  

The Fens Ramsey February 2020