The village is set in the midst of the Fen countryside and yet is only seven miles from the centre of Peterborough. It contains many attractive and historic buildings, including a fine abbey.
There has been a settlement here for hundreds of years. As early as the 7th century monks chose to live on what was then a thorn-covered island.
The monastery was completely destroyed in the ninth century but was later re-founded. The abbey was again damaged when Hereward the Wake fought against William the Conqueror. A new much larger church was begun in 1085 but was destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII. In 1638 the abbey was restored to serve as the parish church for Thorney.
The cottages alongside Wisbech Road were built by the Duke of Bedford in the 19th century. They were created to provide spacious healthy homes for the villagers and estate workers. Each cottage had two rooms upstairs and two down with outbuildings for washing and cooking. They also had large gardens and flushing toilets.
The Tankyard, once the industrial centre of the village, was the site for the estate offices and workshops. Here you can find the village hall, a building formerly used to house a massive engine that pumped water from the river to a tank in the tower and then fed to homes and workshops.
It is possible to trace the history of the village from the very earliest settlements to more recent times at the Heritage Centre, a village museum found next to the Bedford Hall.