This scene is set in and around the isle of
Ely (isle of eels) in Cambridgeshire which is still almost surrounded by the dangerous peat bogs of the Fens. The easiest
way through is by boat along the River Cam or Ouse but woe betide the unwary traveller in winter’s mists who strays
from the narrow causeways that meander among the reeds and sedges. However, more dykes are slowly being constructed to drain
the area and create rich fertile arable land, but not without opposition. The King himself is trying to stop the work at the
Bedford Level but has a formidable adversary in one Oliver Cromwell, the
man now famed as the ‘Lord of the Fens’.
The house that is shown is owned by Cromwell’s maternal uncle Thomas Stewart.
Stewart will die in seven years’ time and the property and estate pass to Oliver. This will restore Cromwell’s
fortunes as a gentleman for it will produce an annual income of £500. His future ownership of the house is indicated
by the Cromwellian helmet. The butterfly is the Purple Emperor (Apatura isis). In 1637 Cromwell will determine to emigrate
to America but be prevented by the government not granting him the necessary licence. English history would be vastly different
if they had. However, his legacy will give him the leisure to be a thorn in the flesh of the Bishop of Ely, complaining about
the services held in the beautiful Cathedral which is pictured here, just a very short walk from Cromwell’s front door.
In the late 1900’s his house will be turned into a really excellent Museum, well worth a special visit.
To know exactly what
child belongs to which of Winthrop’s four wives, check the hair colour code.
Emanuel Downing – Downing Street London
and Downing College Cambridge – that’s the family – the prominent Puritan activist, not only works
with Winthrop in politics and law but is his brother-in-law as well and now, literally, saviour. Watched by a local eel-catcher
– note the eel-fork – the pair are wild-fowling in the Fens near Wickham when suddenly, drama!
Horseman Winthrop gets trapped in the mire and almost drowns in the mud before being miraculously saved by his quick-thinking