Friday, 24 July 2009

East Anglia



East Anglia is a region of eastern England. It was named after one of the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, the Kingdom of the East Angles, which was in turn named after the homeland of the Angles, Angeln, in northern Germany. The kingdom initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, names which possibly arose during or after the Danish settling ("North folk" and "South folk"). Upon the marriage of the East Anglian princess Etheldreda, the Isle of Ely also became part of the kingdom. The boundaries of the region, however, are vague.

Norfolk and Suffolk, the core area of East Anglia. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is to the west and Essex to the south

It is now generally held to include the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk with Cambridgeshire. Essex is also often considered part of the modern region. Much of the area is characterised by its flatness, partly consisting of fenland and reclaimed marshland, though much of Suffolk and Norfolk is gently rolling hills. The flatness of the area is noted in Noel Coward's Private Lives - "Very flat, Norfolk" - and the history of its waterways and drainage forms the backdrop to Graham Swift's Waterland. The principal East Anglian cities include Norwich (the nominal capital), Peterborough and Cambridge. Ipswich, Colchester and Huntingdon are technically towns, although Ely is also a city.
The nine Government Office regions, formed in 1994, were adopted in place of the eight standard statistical regions in 1999. Since then East Anglia is defined as Level 2 Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics within the East of England, comprising the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire including Peterborough.

Geography
Cambridgeshire encompasses the western, fenland landscape of East Anglia. Despite water playing a significant role in the Fen and Broads landscapes, some parts of the region are classified as semi-arid due to their exceptionally low rainfall. During the summer months, tinder-dry conditions are frequently experienced, resulting in many field and heath fires. Maximum temperature ranges from 5–10 degrees celsius in the winter to 20–25 degrees celsius in the summer, although temperatures have been known to reach 35 degrees celsius in recent years. Sunshine totals tend to be higher towards the coastal areas.
Farming and horticulture have proven very successful in this fertile country. The landscape has been heavily influenced by Dutch technology, from the influx of clay pantiles to the draining of the fens. It has a wide range of small-scale holiday destinations ranging from traditional coastal resorts (Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft), through historic towns such as Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge, Ely and King's Lynn to the modern holiday villas of Center Parcs set in Thetford Forest. The Royal Air Force constructed many airfields here during the Second World War and a few of these remain in use. One, near Norwich, has become Norwich International Airport, a civilian airfield to serve the city.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads form a network of waterways between Norwich and the coast and are popular for recreational boating. A recent bid to have them declared a national park failed, as it would have meant conservation becoming more important than navigation rights. The rivers Nene and Great Ouse also cross the region.
The University of East Anglia is situated in Norwich. However, the East of England Regional Assembly is seated in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. The company names Anglia Television and Anglian Water derive from the region, which both serve.


History

Great Britain around the year 800

The Kingdom of the East Angles, formed about the year 520 by the merging of the North and the South Folk (Angles who had settled in the former lands of the Iceni during the previous century) was one of the seven Anglo-Saxon heptarchy kingdoms (as defined in the 12th century writings of Henry of Huntingdon). For a brief period following a victory over the rival kingdom of Northumbria around the year 616, East Anglia was the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England, and its king Raedwald was Bretwalda (overlord of the Anglo-Saxons kingdoms). But this did not last: over the next forty years, East Anglia was defeated by the Mercians twice, and it continued to weaken relative to the other kingdoms until in 794, Offa of Mercia had its king Æthelberht killed and took control of the kingdom himself.
The independence of the East Anglians was restored by a successful rebellion against Mercia (825–827), in course of which two Mercian kings were killed attempting to crush it. On 20 November 869 the Danes killed King Edmund and took the kingdom, which they named East Anglia (see Ivar the Boneless). The Anglo-Saxons retook the area in 920, only to lose it again in 1015–1017, when it was conquered by Canute the Great and given as a fiefdom to Thorkell the Tall, who was made Jarl of East Anglia in 1017.
Much of East Anglia (including parts of Lincolnshire) consisted of marshland and bogs until the 17th century, despite the construction of early sea barriers by the Roman Empire. During the 17th century the alluvial land was converted into arable land by means of systematic drainage using a collection of drains and river diversions. East Anglia was a rich area of the country up until the effects of the Industrial Revolution moved manufacturing to the Midlands and the North - earnings being based on wool and textiles.
During the Second World War, the RAF and the United States Air Force constructed many air bases in East Anglia for the heavy bomber fleets of the Combined Bomber Offensive against Nazi-occupied Europe. East Anglia was chosen because it had considerable open space and level terrain and it was relatively close to the continent, thus shortening flights and allowing for greater bomb loads. Remnants of some of these bases are still visible. Pillboxes can also be found throughout the coastal areas of the region.

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