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Ely city & river great ouse cambridgeshire
River great ouse cities, Ely city Cambridgeshire stock & art images
Around Ely City Cambridgeshire
River great ouse cities around the low-lying fens surrounding the island of Ely were formed, prior to the 17th century, by alternate fresh-water and sea-water incursions. Major rivers in the region, including the Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse, drain an area of some 6,000 square miles (16,000 km2)—five times larger than the fens—into the basin that forms the fens. Defoe in 1774 described the fens as "the sink of no less than thirteen Counties". On 23 November of that year, Church of England cleric and Christian theologician John Wesley, wrote of his approach to Ely after visiting Norwich: "about eight, Wednesday, 23, Mr. Dancer met me with a chaise [carriage] and carried me to Ely. Oh, what want of common sense! Water covered the high road for a mile and a half. I asked, 'How must foot-people come to the town?' 'Why, they must wade through!'" Peat formed in the fresh-water swamps and meres whilst silts were deposited by the slow-moving sea-water. Francis Russell, Earl of Bedford, supported by Parliament, financed the draining of the fens during the 17th century, led by the Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden; the fens continue to be drained to this day.
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