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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Nation diary 1971: the ultimate conquest of Thames marshland | Rural affairs

OkayENT: The previous property map confirmed that the woodland had been divided into eight parcels. All coppiced, and the boundaries operating down the steep slope from heath to marsh accorded intently with the alignment of the current footpaths. The tree stumps had been gnarled and knotted from the lopping of many centuries. The traditional rabbit warren and orchard had gone, making manner for an open grassy sward encompass the foundations of the abbey that had as soon as owned the woodland. Solely within the final twenty years have the ruined partitions of Lesnes been rescued from the obscurity of time and an overgrowth of shrubs. Under the abbey ruins, the flat marshland started. It’s nonetheless criss-crossed with drainage channels and earth banks initiated by the monks seven hundred years in the past. We threaded a tough route alongside the banks via a small world of silence damaged solely by the occasional duck taking off in frightened flight and a flock of agitated plovers. The previous marsh farm nonetheless proven on my map had gone and the moist pastures had been overgrown with thorn bushes and reeds, the timbered causeway was mouldering below a dense thicket.

Above the far embankment, the ships glided silently by on the unseen river. A brief scramble introduced the mighty sweep of the Thames into full view, chimneys, energy stations, factories, loading wharves rising from the marshes on the other shore. With the solar a crimson ball dropping quickly behind the city silhouette we appeared again throughout the darkening marsh to the wooded rim of the hills that marked the previous shoreline of the Thames. Under them, the brilliant lights of the brand new, concrete world of Thamesmead reminded us that the ultimate conquest of the marsh begun by the monks would quickly be a actuality and one other oasis of inexperienced calm misplaced for ever.

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