Campaigners hope historic details of Wenny Meadow in Chatteris can help save it from development
Campaigners opposing a decision by Fenland Council to designate ‘an historic and irreplaceable piece of Chatteris landscape’ for housing development are set to use knew evidence in their fight.
Dr Sarah Spooner, Senior Lecturer in Landscape History at the University of East Anglia gave a , where she highlighted the importance of the Wenny Road Meadow., which has been included by the district council in its local plan 2014.
In her talk, entitled 'A Landscap History of Wenny Road Meadow', which was co-hosted by Chatteris Past, Present and Future (CPPF), the Civic Society and the Save Wenny Road Meadow campaign, she produced maps and photos showing the meadow's history.
Dr Spooner spoke to a full house, using the historic maps, recent surveys and photographs to compare Wenny Road Meadow to other 18th and 19th century manor parks.
She brought in references to the Enclosure Acts, the Napoleonic Wars and even Jane Austen novels.
One of the most revealing images was one that clearly exposed 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.”
The talk was followed by a lively discussion about the importance of the local beauty spot, and many people added their names to a petition to oppose development of the site.
Lawrence Weetman speaking on behalf of CPPF said: "Dr Spooner's talk, setting Wenny Meadow in its proper historical context, made an excellent case for retaining this important surviving example of a landscape park right on our own doorsteps.
"It is evident that Wenny Meadow is far more than 'just a field', but a space that two hundred years ago was designed to be a hugely enjoyable spot for people to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors.
"The fact that this park has changed very little since it was designed two centuries ago is remarkable. The loss of this meadow would be a huge blow to our historic town."
The Save Wenny Road Meadow campaign plans to present the information from Dr Spooner’s talk to Fenland District Council to strengthen their case for a review of the local plan, and to try to preserve this beautiful green space as an amenity for the town. For further details please see the campaign website: SaveWennyRoadMeadow.org.