History of Thorney


Thorney was an island thickly covered with vegetation, standing just a few metres above sea level, when a few early Christians settled here for

a life of prayer. Eventually, a huge Abbey was built, of an amazing size and power. Thorney monks became famous for illustrated medieval manuscripts.

Power passed to the King during the Dissolution, then by the King’s gift to the Earls and Dukes of Bedford.

In the seventeenth century drainage of the Fens became important. Settlers came from overseas 
to settle the drained land in the time of Francis,

the 4th Earl of Bedford, then Cromwell. The story of the village continues through Victorian times, when social housing was developed by the 7th Duke for his agricultural labourers: he was one of the first benevolent landlords. 

More recently, Thorney was affected by wars through the ages, not necessarily in the same way as other villages in England. Food was not scarce here and farming life continued, although Land Girls replaced many of the farm labourers.

Today,  Thorney is a thriving village, surrounded 
by productive farmland, known as one of the food baskets of
the country.

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