Water, Water Everywhere
Prior to the 17th Century life in East Anglia had been dominated by the vast lowland marshes called the Fens. These flooded on a regular basis and, although they provided the local population with livelihoods based on fish, fowl and building materials, the floods were unpredictable and caused many deaths by drowning. Many landowners wished to make the area more productive through conventional agricultural practices, which could only be achieved through large-scale drainage schemes.
Work to drain the Fens had begun in the years preceding the outbreak of the civil war. Led by the Earl of Bedford and the Dutch engineer Vermuyden, the project had had the backing of King Charles 1st. Oliver Cromwell, as a man of the Fens, took an active interest in the project but was initially against the scheme, mainly because the king's involvement. However, after the execution of King Charles, Cromwell gave his full support to Vermuyden, and work to drain the Fens began again in earnest.
At the Farmland Museum...
Discover farming through the ages and learn about the rural history of Cambridgeshire with objects displays and interactives for all ages.
Visit a village shop and see a magnificent 17th Century stone barn and the workshops, which include a basket maker and a blacksmith.
Explore a traditional and a Fenman's Hut.
A display of memorabilia to honour the Men & Women who served at RAF Witchford and Mepal Airfields during World War II.
10:00am - 4:30pm weekdays throughout the year, except Bank Holidays. Also open Sundays, May to September, or by appointment.
The Museum, in its picturesque setting close to Ely on the River Lark, holds a unique collection of large working diesel engines that played a vital part in maintaining the drainage of the once uninhabitable fens nearby.
Displays or artefacts, photographs and interactive media illustrate the story of fen drainage and the social history of the local area.