Whittlesey Mere was an area
of open water in the Fenland area of the
county of Cambridgeshire (formerly
occupied the land south-east of Yaxley Fen, south of Farcet Fen and
north of Holme Fen.
of Whittlesey lay to the north-east.
Whittlesey Mere was the last of the 'great meres' to be drained.
course of the River
Nene took it into the mere on one side and out on the
The area covered by water was at least 1,870 acres (756 hectares)
in summer, extending to 3,000 acres (1,214 ha) in winter. The mere
was a source of fish, wildfowl, reed and sedge for local
inhabitants, and also provided a setting for 'water picnics' for
the region's nobility.
In 1850, the drainage of the mere was completed. The project was
funded by a group of gentlemen and local landowners: Wells of
Holmewood; Heathcote of Conington Castle; Fellowes of Ramsey Abbey;
Thornhill of Diddington; Lord Sandwich
A flood occurred in 1852 and the mere filled with water, but it was
drained again. In 1862, the Marshland Sluice gave way under
pressure from the tide and water flooded in. It was drained once
more and farming resumed.
The name 'Whittlesey Mere' remains on maps to this day, although
the only water is to be found in farmers' irrigation reservoirs and
dykes draining the fertile farmland. Stage 3 of the
Project may eventually see the mere return to