Fen Folks Fridays

Do you love the Fens? Fen Folks Fridays are a new free zoom meet up group, that meet once a month to share topics and learn about the fens. It started with a aim to bring people together, and as a way to try to unite people in the fens. Please book the sessions in advance to avoid disappointment.

Each event include a speaker, discussion about events and activities coming up in the fens, and a chance to natter to each other to share memories and fen facts. The session start at 7.30pm prompt and finish about 9.15/30pm.

If you would like to be a speaker, please get in touch. We try to aim for a variety of talks, covering all areas of the fens (Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk) on a variety of topics (heritage, nature, creativity, wellbeing and accessibility). Please also let us know if you have an event, that you would like advertising.

Fascinating Fens co-ordinates the evening voluntarily, including being the actual host and technical host. If you would like to volunteer to help, please get in touch. Roles for this project include: co-host, welcoming guests, finding speakers and identifying places where the evening can be advertised and help setting up hybrid events.

Although the events are free, sponsorship or donations would be welcome, to cover the technical costs of running the evenings. Please get in touch if you are a business interested in sponsoring a session, in return for sponsorship we would give advertising on this page, our social media pages and e-newsletter. If you are an attendee, and would like to make a donation, please use https://paypal.me/fascinatingfens or if you would like to buy a coffee please see https://ko-fi.com/fascinatingfens.

Healthy Fenland awarded Fen Folks Fridays a grant originally to help set up the group for the year of 2021, we are now self-funding through donations, and calendar sales.

Fridays 2022-2023 season:

16th September 2022: HODs (Heritage Open Days) Astounding Inventions in the Fens.

21st October 2022: Cambridgeshire Local Heritage by Jess Johnston.

18th November 2022: Fenland History Saver Shares All by Mike Petty:

16th December 2022: Festive Fen Quiz:

20th January 2023: Pickwick’s Fenland Scrapbook by Mike Petty

When Samuel Pickwick, famous for his “Pickwick’s Papers”, visited Cambridge in 1838 he met a host of fascinating characters who shared a wealth of fascinating details about their life and times. 

He recorded their stories in an undiscovered Scrapbook.

From bargees he learns of the problems of drainage, of floods and skating;. He learns of the hardship which lead to the Littleport Riots of 1816, of more riots over enclosure and the coming of threshing machines. 

While many of the local poor were chained in Ely Gaol or forced into the new Union Workhouses, strangers flocked to a Community in the fens at Manea, only to have their dreams of Utopia dashed.

In this presentation Mike Petty will share some of their stories

17th February 2023: ‘Following in Vermuyden’s Footsteps’ by Nicola Oldfield

We all know that Vermuyden was infamous in creating the Fens we love today, but have you ever wondered why, after 370 years, the infrastructure that manages water levels is still so important? Who looks after the banks, drains, pumping stations and the wonder that is the Ouse Washes?

From the Duke of Bedford Primary School to Chief Engineer of the Middle Level, Nicola will trace her involvement in Fenland drainage, following the engineers of the past and explain how Fenland drainage is managed today.  And she will try and answer that long debated question – why do engineers spend so much time standing around looking in holes?!

17th March 2023: ‘Spalding Gentlemen’s Society’ by Dr Michael Gilbert.

Spalding Gentlemen’s Society was established in 1710 by Maurice Johnson as a ‘learned society’ where knowledge could be shared and the latest scientific, antiquarian and cultural issues could be discussed. It is the oldest provincial learned society still in existence and its early members included William Stukeley, Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Joseph Banks. The Society has seen many challenges over the three centuries is have been operating and now has a thriving membership that runs the museum in Broad Street, Spalding built in 1910 and a busy conservation centre. Michael Gilbert is a Trustee of the Society and will describe its history and the plans for the future.

21st April 2023: Fen Floods by Mike Petty: please note this has been cancelled due to illness. Feel free to still join us for a natter about the fens (please email us for the link).

19th May 2023: My Ancestral Home-The Fens by Rex Sly

Rex was born in the Fens, the son of a farmer whose lineage in farming here goes back to the 17th century. He says “at the age of 60, when most people are contemplating retiring, I decided to venture on a part time career change, writing. I am still very involved in farming with my son and when harvest and autumn cultivations finish, I have time to research and write in the winter months. That is until the spring arrives and the farming cycle starts once again. The fens are my birthplace, my workplace, my playground and like my ancestors will be my burial ground. It is this ingrained passion for the fens passed down from my forebears which drives me to unravel its history and its people.”

Rex will talk to us about his local fen history books and his poetry. His books include: “From Punt to Plough,” “Fenland Families,” “Soil in their Souls”, “Exploring the Fen edge” and “My Ancestral Home: The Fens”. For more information, please see his website: www.rexslyinthefens.com

16th June 2023: Celebrate The Fens weekend launch: including Special guests and a variety of speakers enticing us to join their Celebrate the Fens activities across the weekend

Special guests will be joining us to help launch Celebrate the Fens weekend 2023, so far these include: Francis Pryor (writer and archaeologist) Ajay Tegala (TV wildlife expert) and Julie Spence (Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire).

Fen Folks Fridays 2021-2022 season:

17th September 2021: A hundred years of farming by Alan Stennett.

15th October 2021: The Frightening Fens by Ben Langley.

19th November 2021: RSPB in the Fens by Daniel Pullan and Bethany Kiamil.

17th December 2021: Festive Fen Quiz.

21st January 2022: FenScapers

18th February 2022: Railways in The Fens: The Social Effects by Brian Watson.

18th March 2022: The Great Fen, a future wetland and more,’ with Wildlife Trust BCN Monitoring and Research Officer, Henry Stanier.

22nd April 2022: The Crowland Buffalo by Nicholas Day.

27th May 2022: Fens, Romans, Countrymen: A History of Eels in the Fens by Dr John Wyatt Greenlee

Or you can join us in person at Ely Museum, for a hybrid event for this May event (please email us so we know you’re coming).

17th June 2022: Celebrate the Fens Weekend launch, including Special guests, music, poetry and a variety of speakers enticing us to join their Celebrate the Fens activities across the weekend.

Fen Folks Fridays: Previous Seasons

For information about our previous Fen Folks Friday seasons September 2021 – June 2022, please click for more info.

For information about our previous Fen Folks Friday seasons September 2020 – August 2021, please click for more info.

For more information please get in touch or explore the other fascinating fens pages:

Find out more about fascinating fens by visiting our “Home” page or “About us” page.

Or by requesting to receive our free quarterly e-newsletter.
Find out about how you can “get involved” with fascinating fens projects such as “Celebrate The Fens Day”.

Or visit our “Shop” for Fen gifts: books, calendar and illustrations.
“Explore the Fens” through this website: heritage, creativity, nature, wellbeing and accessibility.

“Muscovy and Eeli” and the “Fascinating Fen Tails” will help children explore.