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CHER Number:06811
Type of record:Monument
Name:Post-medieval fenland drainage, Lode

Summary - not yet available

Grid Reference:TL 52 66
Parish:Lode, East Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire

Monument Type(s):

Full description

R1, Fen Drainage. There is no evidence of drainage systems being constructed in the parish during the medieval or earlier periods; Bottisham Lode, which is probably of Roman date, was not initially for drainage purposes. The earliest work resulted from the allotment of two areas of fen to the Adventurers in the C17th (1637) (R2). These areas, known as Adventurers' Lands, consisted of 351 acres in the NE (centred TL/530-/660-) and 300 acres in the SW (centred TL/518-/638); each was allocated in three lots. Enclosing and draining was probably started in 1651, when it was ordered that subsidiary allotments should be separated by 10ft ditches (R3), and completed in 1655 - 1656 (R4). Both areas were originally drained by two existing streams known as Crouch Lake and White Lake (R5) which were cleaned out and altered. Crouch Lake flowed to the S of the N E block of Adventurers' Lands into Swaffham Bulbeck parish; White Lake, which was 12ft wide, flowed from the S W block (TL/5211/6413) under Bottisham Lode in a tunnel 2ft wide and 1ft high, across the N E block (TL/5280/6615), through Swaffham Bulbeck and Swaffham Prior parishes in a new cut, and thence to Upware (R3). The Bedford Level Corporation was responsible for this drainage until C18 (1767) and their records show that these drains were frequently cleaned out and scoured, e.g. in 1717 (R6) , in 1731 (R7) and subsequently. Before 1700 parts of the fenland N of Lode village and NE of Long Meadow were enclosed and drained, being described in 1671 - 1672 as 'Fen ground lately enclosed by Thomas Parker out of the fen' (R8). By 1709 Lode Moor of 11 acres was enclosed and drained; by 1800 a further 200 acres of fenland, NW of Lode village was reclaimed (R9). By Act of 1767 responsibility for drainage passed to the Swaffham and Bottisham Drainage Commissioners who were obliged to reorganise the system owing to the sinking of the ground level. The White and Crouch Lake streams were abandoned as major drains and replaced by the newly-cut Mill Drain (R9, R10). In 1808 the remaining common fenland was enclosed (R11) and the new fields were delineated by ditches. The single wind pump proved insufficient to deal with the drainage of an area increased by the new enclosures and complaints resulted, especially in respect of the land SW of Bottisham Lode (R12). The installation of a privately-owned wind pump near the NW end of Bottisham Lode in 1821 - 1822 (35), and of a steam engine with an Engine Drain which was cut across the parish (TL/5161/6324 -TL/5351/6576) in the same year, was only partly effective. In 1830 the Drainage Commission therefore erected another wind pump on Bottisham Lode, known as Horningsea Mill (36). Fen drainage in the parish was finally achieved in 1850 with the construction of a new steam engine with its Engine Drain, in Swaffham Prior. The stages of reclamation of Bottisham Fen are traceable on the ground. The two rectilinear blocks of Adventurers' Lands, enclosed by continuous drains, contrast with the patchwork layout of the areas drained subsequently.


<R1> RCHM, 1972, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Cambridgeshire. Volume II. North-East Cambridgeshire, 83 (map) (Bibliographic reference). SCB13360.


<R2> Untitled Source (Cartographic materials). SCB2810.


<R3> Untitled Source (Cartographic materials). SCB2812.


<R4> Untitled Source (Cartographic materials). SCB2850.


<R5> Untitled Source (Cartographic materials). SCB2808.


<R6> Untitled Source (Cartographic materials). SCB2804.


<R7> Untitled Source (Bibliographic reference). SCB2806.


<R8> St Bartholomew's Hospital records, Box 11 (Bibliographic reference). SCB14230.


<R9> 1800, Map of Swaffham and Bottisham Fens (Map). SCB2627.


<R10> Untitled Source (Bibliographic reference). SCB14303.


<R11> Inclosure Act and Award (Map). SCB2714.


<R12> Swaffham IDB Minutes, 1792 - 1820 (Bibliographic reference). SCB2862.

Sources and further reading

<R1>Bibliographic reference: RCHM. 1972. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Cambridgeshire. Volume II. North-East Cambridgeshire. 83 (map).
<R2>Cartographic materials:
<R3>Cartographic materials:
<R4>Cartographic materials:
<R5>Cartographic materials:
<R6>Cartographic materials:
<R7>Bibliographic reference:
<R8>Bibliographic reference: St Bartholomew's Hospital records. Box 11.
<R9>Map: 1800. Map of Swaffham and Bottisham Fens.
<R10>Bibliographic reference:
<R11>Map: Inclosure Act and Award.
<R12>Bibliographic reference: Swaffham IDB Minutes, 1792 - 1820.