On Friday 12th October, Dr Sarah Spooner, Senior Lecturer in Landscape History at the University of East Anglia gave a talk in entitled “A Landscape History of Wenny Road Meadow”. The event was co-hosted by CPPF (Chatteris Past, Present and Future, the Civic Society) and the Save Wenny Road Meadow campaign.
Dr Spooner spoke with passion and authority to a full house. She used historic maps, recent surveys and photographs to compare Wenny Road Meadow to other 18th and 19th century manor parks. Bringing in references to the Enclosure Acts, the Napoleonic Wars and even Jane Austen novels, the talk was informative and entertaining. Perhaps most revealing was the LIDAR image (shown here), which clearly exposes the “ridge and furrow” earthworks, which date back to early medieval (15th century) agricultural practices. Dr Spooner explained that because the land has never been developed, it can reveal its own story to those able to interpret the landscape. Once built on, the meadow’s history will be lost. Summing up, Dr Spooner said ““Wenny Meadow is special. It’s the only thing like it in Chatteris. It’s an important 18th and 19th Century designed landscape; not only has it not really changed since the 1820s when it was first created, but like the ridge and furrow earthworks there just are not that many parks like that in the Fens. It’s also really significant because it preserves that medieval origin. Here you have got not just the 18th Century Georgian and Regency period, but medieval Chatteris as well.”
We’d like to express our deep gratitude to Dr Spooner for her time preparing and delivering the talk. We feel it has given us further ammunition to resist the proposed development, and will be sharing her findings with Fenland District Council shortly.