Bedford level

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Bedford, John of Lancaster, duke of (1389—1435) regent of France and prince

4th earl of Bedford, Francis Russell (1593—1641)


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Was by far the most ambitious drainage scheme attempted in the Fens. A group of ‘adventurers’, under Francis, 4th earl of Bedford, was granted authority in 1630 to proceed and Vermuyden, the Dutch engineer, put in charge. There was strong opposition from local people, acute financial and technological difficulties, and an interruption caused by the civil wars. The work was officially declared complete in 1652, though much of the reclaimed land was of dubious value and maintenance proved expensive.

Subjects: British History.

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