Thorney today is another small fenland village, dominated by its great abbey, located on a small island in the fens which rises to a maximum height of c. 7.1m OD. South of the church the land falls away to c. 4.2m OD at a crossroads around which most of the Victorian and early 20th century settlement is arranged, with more modern development extending along Wisbech Road to the east where the land surface continues to drop gently onto the fen. Much of the present settlement on the north of Wisbech Road comprises uniform rows of south-facing terraced cottages constructed as a model village for the Duke of Bedford in the 18th century. Larger houses, mostly recent, are sited south of the Wisbech Road, while a densely-packed cluster of buildings occupies the area immediately north of the abbey church, which was itself retained after the Dissolution for use as the parish church. The area south of the abbey church is today occupied by a small close of large post-medieval houses arranged around a small green, with other buildings associated the Duke of Bedford's post-Reformation estate to the west. Historical research by the local history society suggests that Thorney was always a small and very remote settlement. Archaeological excavation by the University of Leicester immediately north of the Abbey church revealed medieval and other activity probably associated with the Dissolution, while a community excavation in the pasture fields west of the abbey church is planned to investigate this area considered likely to have lain within the medieval abbey precinct.
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