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Thorney

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Thorney is a village about 8 miles east of Peterborough in the City of Peterborough unitary authority, England, on the A47. Historically it was part of the Isle of Ely, which was considered part of Cambridgeshire but was transferred into the former county of Huntingdon and Peterborough and remained part of the Peterborough district into the transfer to Cambridgeshire and when it became a unitary authority in 1998.Tracing its roots back to around 500 AD when it started out as a Saxon settlement, the existence of Thorney Abbey made the settlement an important ecclesiastical centre for a long period of time, and the village is still the most northerly point of the Anglican Diocese of Ely.Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries the estate became crown property and it was granted to John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford in 1550. At this time only a few hundred acres of the land was cultivatable. In the 1630s Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford spent a reputed £100,000 draining the fens, bringing almost all of the estate and parish of nearly 18000acres into agricultural use. A community of Walloon Protestant refugees, originally from areas of Flanders that are now northern France, was settled here in the 17th century with their own church and minister, employing the ruins of the abbey for services in their own language. The Walloons had expertise in fenland drainage. The Russell family's rents from the Thorney estate increased from £300 in 1629 to £10,000 by the early 19th century. The family, whose main seat was at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, occasionally resided at the manor house in Thorney village, which was known as Abbey House. The estate was sold to the tenants in 1910.
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