Old Maps for new

By    Michael Blakstad for Meon Matters, June 2017

Old maps are fascinating, particularly when they illustrate the history of a familiar location. As part of the Gardens Open on June 25th, the History Group is exhibiting in The Court Hall the first results of our research into Farming the Valley over the centuries, starting with the Romans. Maps will feature prominently.

The first detailed maps of the parish of East Meon were produced in 1852, after Parliament had decreed that tithes, previously paid in kind, should be commuted to cash payments based on the value of property. A national survey was conducted and maps made which show every field, coppice, barn and common in the country. These ‘Tithe Apportionments’ have been used as the basis of an exercise to ‘georeference’ other maps, using a new computer application which overlays Ordnance Survey data, estate sales maps, archaeological and geological surveys to produce a treasure trove of illustrations of our valley, showing who owned the land at different time, who farmed it, how much rent was paid, to what use it was put and the nature of the soil.


Map showing farms around East Meon in Roman times

We have used earlier documents and archaeological clues to work out how land had been used in earlier times, going back to Roman villas and medieval Open Fields, and we have shown which land was subjected to Enclosures in the 19thcentury. Robert Mocatta has mastered the geo-referencing software and meticulously logged a mass of detail from which he created overlays which illustrate the different aspects of life in our valley. We have commissioned a cartographer to convert his data into what we believe is an attractive and informative treasure trove of maps, several of which will feature in the exhibition on June 25th.

This is ‘work in progress’ and in the year ahead we shall be conducting more research, producing more maps and a larger exhibition. If any of you have old maps, particularly estate sales particulars, we would very much appreciate the opportunity to borrow and scan these so that we can use them, too, in our work.