Born Rochester in 1772, Thomas Fisher was an antiquarian, engraver and early lithographer. He also campaigned vigorously against the slave trade.
He travelled regularly from London to Bedfordshire (a day’s journey by coach in those days) to record its buildings and monuments. Many of his drawings and watercolours are in the Cecil Higgins gallery in Bedford.
‘Peat Cutting On Flitton Moor’ was painted by Thomas Fisher, a noted painter of Bedfordshire scenes, between 1812 and 1820.
It was bought by the Flitwick & District Heritage Group in July 2002, after it was discovered on private sale from a gallery in London – thus saving it from disappearing from local view.
The Picture shows a substantial depth of peat and its stacking for use as a fuel. Maps of the period show that Flitton Moor then stretched along the Flit from Flitwick Moor to ‘Hoggs Moor’ at Hollington Basin, and northwards into Maulden. The present Duck End Nature reserve has the only deep remnant of peat left – apart from Flitwick Moor. Although the recently dug ponds on Stewardship land adjacent to Flitton Moor also demonstrate that there is still some peat in this area.
The peat deposit may have been reed-based, from Phragmites Reed as can still be seen growing on Flitwick Moor, and is very acid – this making it unsuitable for garden use. Certainly it is less than 2,000 years old, as the many Roman finds in this area are from below the peat layer.
We believe that the view is generally north-eastwards (downstream, looking towards Clophill) from somewhere close to the present Flitton Moor Nature Reserve, and that the hill on the skyline is the Greensand Ridge. The building on the far right may be the old mill at Hollington, next to the present Hollington Farm.
200 years ago much of the valley from Westoning to Shefford would have looked like this. The A507 now runs through the middle of the image.
Copies of Thomas’s ‘Peat Cutting on the Moor’ picture are available to purchase. Contact the FDHG Chairman, if interested.