Maps as a source of local history
On January 24th, 2012, the History Group made a visit to the Hampshire Records Office in Winchester, where archivist Mark Pitchforth gave a talk on Maps as a source of local history. Before the talk, we had an opportunity to examine a selection of old maps of East Meon which Mark had laid out for us.
These are the notes for Mark Pitchforth’s talk..
Maps – general
Maps are a very good starting-point for the local historian because
•they’re a familiar source which we use in our daily lives so they are not as ‘remote’ as some historical documents can sometimes seem
•they don’t usually pose language or handwriting problems which can occur with other documents.
•And importantly they are a useful source to set the scene and put other records into their topographical context.
• maps are often made with a particular purpose in mind and so won’t necessarily show the whole landscape but only those aspects of it which were integral to their purpose. They cannot be compared with photos and all maps should be placed into their historical context whenever they are used so that you are clear as to why they might include or exclude certain info.
Local maps have a number of different uses They are useful for landscape history and the history of individual features within the landscape, such as buildings
they can also be used to show the development of communications, especially roads, railways and canals and they provide graphic documentary evidence for some major historical changes such as the agrarian revolution, the industrial revolution, the growth of urbanisation and development of suburbs. They can also be used by family historians who want to find out where their ancestors lived and can help to identify very local place-names.
In addition to their historical uses, some of our maps are consulted for more practical reasons such as boundary or rights of way disputes. Most of the maps held by Hampshire Record Office relate to Hampshire but not exclusively so. Maps for places outside Hampshire come to us with private archives, for example when a Hampshire family or institution held estates outside the county. Until the 16th century, maps were extremely rare and the idea of producing a graphic image of a place, was quite a radical and new idea. The earliest local maps date from this period. For Hampshire they tend to be of Portsmouth, which was strategically the most significant place in the county.
The first local administrative unit to be mapped was the county. There are a great number of county maps between the 16th and 19th centuries but of these, only five were drawn from an original survey. All the others are to some extent copies of these surveys with more or less additional detail added to them.
This is Christopher Saxton’s map of Hampshire, 1575
•It was published with 34 other county maps in the first national atlas ever to be produced, in 1579.
•It is highly decorative but some features such as roads are completely lacking
But although more pictorial than detailed, this map can still be useful:
•the bridges suggest the location of at least some roads
•and the sites of churches and chapels indicates the main places of settlement at that date
Another noted 16th-century map maker was John Norden, whose Hampshire map is dated 1595. Norden employed
•referenced symbols for features on his maps
•he was the first English mapmaker to publish triangular tables indicating the distances between places
•and his maps are the first to show administrative boundaries within the county such as those for the hundreds.
But you can see that the detail on Norden’s map is very similar to that shown on Saxton’s earlier map.
John Speed’s map which was published in his Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain, 1612 is also highly decorated and rather similar to Saxton’s, but it is
•the first county map to be drawn to a scale (3 miles per inch),
•and, most importantly, it has the first known town plan of Winchester as an inset.
It is not until the 18th century that county maps become more detailed and probably much more accurate because by that time the science of triangulation (a system of measurement) had been more fully developed. The most important mid 18th century map-maker was Isaac Taylor whose Hampshire map is dated 1759. This map is also highly decorated but there is far more detail than in the earlier ones, showing as it does not only settlements but also…
•specific features in the landscape
•lines of communication
•parks and commons
•and industrial sites including 190 watermills.
The next important survey of Hampshire was made between 1788 and 1790 by Thomas Milne who produced an extremely detailed map. Particularly useful are
•the names of landowners
•the annotation about the progress of enclosure
•and notes on land use and industrial sites.
•Lines of communications are more clearly shown on this map e.g roads, canals etc
But you need to exercise a little caution with Milne’s map as sometimes he showed roads and canals which were planned but which had not yet opened and their finished route did not exactly correspond with what he showed!
The last new survey before the emergence of the large scale Ordnance Survey maps of the county was that of Christopher Greenwood and his brother John. They show…
•the change in use of buildings (eg the watermill at Freefolk from paper-making to corn-milling)
•local farm names
•and the change in the spelling of some place-names
•roads, farms, the River Test and the Salisbury-Southampton canal, as well as various individual large houses.
You can view digital copies of many of these county maps on a website entitled ‘Old Hampshire Mapped’.
Ordnance Survey maps
The earliest maps produced by the Ordnance Survey – or OS – were one inch maps derived from larger scale drawings or field surveys now at the British Library, which were compiled 1800-1820.
However the OS maps which are most useful to the local historian are the maps produced later in the century at the larger scales of 6 and 25 inches to the mile. Hampshire’s earliest OS maps were the 6 inch maps of the Aldershot and Portsmouth areas, which were mapped first because these two places were of military and naval importance. But most of the Hampshire maps were produced after about 1868. A book of reference accompanied the first edition 25 inch maps giving the area and land use for each plot, thus supplementing the information on the map itself.
HRO has four editions of the Ordnance Survey county maps:
1st edition produced usually in the 1870s, 2nd edition in c.1898, 3rd edition in c.1909 1911 and 4th edition in the 1920s and 1930s. This slide is of the 3rd ed 25” OS map of East Meon and as you can see it shows buildings clearly and other features in the landscape. These maps are extremely useful in pin pointing very local details and they are probably our most frequently-used maps.
The 6” OS maps are more useful for giving an overview of an area:
•showing parish and district boundaries
•lines of communication
•and the relationship of communities to one another.
But they do also show the principal buildings and features in the landscape, albeit at a smaller scale than on the 25 inch maps.
The 4th ed. was never completed because the OS ran out of money in the slump of the 1930s. However, a new series of maps was produced after the war incorporating the National Grid system of referencing. Hampshire Record Office has continued to collect these National Grid maps in the 6 inch, 25 inch and 50 inch scales. However since the 1980s, the OS have produced digital mapping and to see the most current mapping you need to go either to the OS in Southampton or to one of the copyright libraries, such as the British or Bodleian Library. We have a few print-outs but these are only a tiny proportion of what has been produced.
It might be appropriate to mention here that another complementary source for this post war period are the aerial photographs taken to provide data for mapping. We have a number of later aerial photographs as well and many are in colour.
Another major source for the local historian are the tithe maps which were produced throughout the country following the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836. Three copies of each map were made. The diocesan (and sometimes also the parish) copy is usually deposited in the local Record Office while the third copy, originally made for the Tithe Commissioners, is now held centrally at the National Archives in London.
There is a tithe map for nearly every parish in the county, showing it at a large scale exactly as it was in c.1840 which is of course before production of the large scale OS maps. This is part of the East Meon tithe map, 1853 and as you can see, plots are individually numbered and a key, known as the tithe award, or tithe text, gives details about each plot including:
•the name of the owner and occupier
•and the land use and area, which is obviously useful for family historians as well as local historians in linking to the first census and showing where people lived.
The one drawback of these awards is that the entries are not in numerical order. They are arranged in alphabetical order by name of landowner.
Tithe maps are very useful for tracing the history of individual properties. They do of course show only those areas which were tithe-able. Lands which are not shown include:
•those exempt from the payment of tithe
•those where the tithes had already been commuted under an earlier agreement
•and lands owned by the tithe owner
This is the reason why there are no tithe maps for the parishes of Southwick or Beaulieu in Hampshire for example, because they were formerly owned by monastic communities and therefore not titheable.
Sometimes tithe maps were altered at a later date if, for example, plots were split up or if the construction of a road or railway altered the area of fields. These changes were incorporated in documents known as altered apportionments of tithe rent-charge which are also often accompanied by a map. These documents can exist for the period from 1836 up to 1936 after which tithe rentcharge payments were finally abolished.
Gaps in the tithe maps can often be filled by enclosure maps which were compiled from the mid-18th century onwards usually as a result of an Act of Parliament. As in the case of the tithe maps, three copies of the enclosure map were drawn, and the Record Office now usually has two of these – the one deposited with the county authorities and often too the parish copy. As with tithe maps, a third copy is held centrally in the National Archives. This slide shows Liss enclosure map and award, 1864.
Unlike tithe maps, enclosure maps do not exist for every parish and may not cover the whole parish but only areas affected by the enclosure of the fields. As with tithe maps, the enclosure maps were made to accompany awards which set out to whom the individual fields were allotted. Sometimes however, the awards stand alone and no separate map was drawn up. These can be difficult to interpret as they are written in prose and there is not necessarily a summary schedule accompanying them.
By using pre-enclosure documentation (the working records of the Commissioners) and the enclosure documents together, as well as the Commissioner’s minutes and other papers, one can really begin to understand the great changes which the enclosure movement brought to the local community.
Very occasionally you will find an enclosure agreement, drawn up between the chief landowners for the enclosure of fields in a particular area. Even more occasionally there will be an accompanying map on such an agreement. This enclosure map for North Stoneham is drawn on an agreement between Richard Fleming, lord of the manor of North Stoneham, and 32 tenants (note their seals and signatures or marks at the bottom of the document) for the enclosure of 604 acres of North Stoneham Common in 1736.
Where you do find enclosure awards and maps, they can be extremely useful to the local historian and student of the historical landscape. They also still have legal validity for:
•establishing rights of common
•settling boundary disputes
•working out the lines of roads and footpaths
•determining liability for fences
•and establishing responsibility for road maintenance.
That is unless the provisions have subsequently been changed by other legal documents.
As with tithe awards, enclosure awards were sometimes amended at a later date and any amendments will have been deposited with the Clerk of the Peace and have now been inherited by the Record Office in such series as the highway diversion orders
Plans of Communications
The Record Office holds many hundreds of maps specifically showing lines of communication, although obviously most maps, except the earliest, will show these incidentally anyway as we have already seen on the county and Ordnance survey maps.
However the earliest maps produced specifically to indicate roads are those of John Ogilby which were conceived for his atlas Britannia first published in 1675. This map shows Ogilby’s map of the London to Southampton road. Selective features along the road were drawn on these maps and distances were marked along the route to help the traveller. At the time of their production this was a revolutionary style of map but in fact it has stood the test of time since later road maps such as this 1814 road map by Mogg of part of the London to Poole road copied this format and many modern motorway maps are actually not very different from this!
Other later road maps have been deposited in the Record Office and we also have some maps of river routes. This map of the River Itchen drawn in 1618 is one of the earliest maps in the Record Office and it was produced to illustrate the report of a Commission of enquiry into the navigability of the river. Whether a map of this sort survives will depend on local circumstances and whether or not particular enquiries and indeed surveys were undertaken.
But by far the most important series of maps of communications are the maps known as deposited plans which are maps ‘deposited’ with the Clerk of the Peace of the county and like the enclosure maps inherited by the County Council. Usually these plans will include a general map such as a one-inch Ordnance Survey map showing the overall route of the undertaking as well as a more specific survey of the route itself. This may include what are known as ‘lines of deviation’ within which the route could deviate and these are shown here on this London to Portsmouth deposited railway plan, 1844.
Deposited plans cover all sorts of communications especially canals, roads, tramways and railways. The series also includes plans of other public undertakings such as tunnels, harbours, piers, and bridges. Our earliest deposited plan is for the Andover and Redbridge canal 1789 but the series continues right up to the twentieth century and there is for example a deposited plan of the Esso refinery pipelines built in the 1960s.
The use of these maps is obvious, especially to the many railway buffs and other experts on transport history. They are also useful to the local historian for as well as showing the engineer’s drawings and proposed line of the route, they also indicate who was to be affected by the proposal. Plots immediately adjacent to the line are numbered and details of these properties are given in an accompanying book of reference. Hampshire Record Office has one set of these maps and there is another set in the House of Lords Record Office deposited with the Acts of Parliament which sanctioned the construction of the particular utility concerned. They can often be supplemented with parliamentary papers and also private papers such as correspondence, petitions and so forth, which indicate how particular schemes affected individuals and families.
Estate maps – as their name indicates – are usually maps of landed estates such as a manor, a group of manors or simply a single isolated field. There isn’t a map for every estate but conversely there can be several for one estate.
These maps can date from the 16th century although the earliest one in Hampshire Record Office is of Buckland manor in Lymington dated 1611.
As I said earlier, it’s important to understand why any map was drawn so that you can understand why some features were included and others were excluded.
Reasons for compiling estate maps might include:
the need to plan the management of an estate e.g farming
the wish to illustrate an area subject to sale or exchange
or for legal purposes to indicate boundaries, statutory rights, customs and so on.
Many estate maps still remain in private hands as they are sometimes still needed for practical purposes. Others have been retained privately, even when the rest of the estate archive has been deposited, simply because of their decorative appeal.
•Atlas of properties owned by the Mayor, Bailiffs and Commonalty of Winchester, surveyed by W Godson, 1748
• Plan of Nutley manor belonging to Sr. Richard Norton Knight and Baronett, 1635 by John Hudson and Thomas Kingston, Surveyors
•Map of the estate of Edward Horne at Upton Grey, surveyed by William Burgess, 1741
You can use these maps for a variety of different purposes and I am going to show you a few examples to illustrate what I mean.
Here we have a map of part of Winchester showing the Eastgate estate in 1748. It is particularly valuable because it shows what is now an urban setting well before major development. The area is now very different with modern housing, and a completely different road system many of which bear names such as Lawn Street and Garden Lane reflecting the earlier topography. It would obviously be much more difficult to visualise this area in the 18th century without this map especially as it is dated almost a century before photography was invented.
Gardens too are often depicted in detail as this plan dated 1818 of the garden at Herriard House between Basingstoke and Alton illustrates, showing as it does the exact lay out of the property, including fences, trees and ponds. The key to the plan indicates how particular areas of the garden were used – for flower gardens and the kitchen garden, for hothouses, greenhouses and icehouses and for garden ornamentation such as statues. This sort of information has been researched effectively by members of the Hampshire Gardens Trust amongst others to re create historic gardens.
Architectural features can also be studied from estate maps if you are lucky. Sometimes buildings are shown in block but on the earlier maps at least, they are often shown pictorially and sometimes as quite large illustrations. Occasionally a house is drawn as part of the decoration on the map. This detail of Basingstoke Town Hall (now the Willis Museum) is taken from a map of Basingstoke, 1762 and whilst it is hardly a work of art, it does provide useful clues as to the size and shape of the building.
Estate maps are a useful source for the study of farming practice and land use. Arable, woodland and pasture may be shown and sometimes the pre enclosure landscape is depicted with its system of common fields divided into strips as on this map of Berry Hill Farm at Upper Clatford, 1733.
Very often too there are detailed schedules accompanying or actually written onto these maps. Taken together the map and the schedule can provide useful documentation
•About the field system
•About the tenants who lived in the area
•about obligations pertaining to the land (eg road maintenance or the grazing of animals or manorial rights)
Here for example is a Survey of an estate within the parishes of Froxfield and Privett, 1813 with information indicating what all the different numbers mean helping to make more sense of the map.
You also get maps recording the sale of properties. Here for example is a plan prepared for the sale of The Tatchbury Mount Estate, Totton, Netley Marsh (over 660 acres), 1927. An accompanying sale catalogue describes each lot and sometimes you are lucky enough to get photographs of some of the lots. These documents are the modern equivalent of the historic estate maps and their accompanying schedules.
Going back now to a much earlier period, this map of Thurmond’s manor, Winchester was drawn in 1639 and is a useful source for field names. Some of these names have been carried forward into modern street-names (as for example in the case of Long Close and Barn Close here). But if you were asked to identify the exact location and shape of the original field of the same name, you could not do that without a map such as this. We are sometimes asked by local councils to provide historic names for new roads or housing estates and we have tended to use historic maps for our inspiration. This is one of the more unusual uses to which historic maps can be put!
Town plans/street maps
Town plans, including street maps, are not really a separate category of map but in fact could be included in nearly all the classes I have mentioned already. I have referred to the earliest Hampshire town maps, included as insets on Speed’s county maps of the early 17th century – but town areas may also be covered by estate maps and tithe maps. Here for example is the tithe map of Alton showing the town centre.
For the more modern period, you also find street plans dating back to the 18th century in books such as trade directories, town histories and guidebooks. And Ordnance Survey maps are obviously useful for towns as well as for the countryside.
As we have seen, buildings, like towns, may be shown, in outline at least, on many of the types of map I have already mentioned. You can often find information about private buildings when they lie adjacent to a significant public area such as here in this plan for the improvement of Romsey churchyard in 1938 which shows the surrounding houses in addition to the main subject of the plan.
Numerous plans exist of public buildings because they were maintainable by the authorities whose records we tend to have:
•churches were subject to the diocesan faculty regulations
•inns, prisons and the county’s public buildings could not be built or altered without the approval of the county justices
•and workhouses were subject to the Poor law authorities.
As we look after the records of many of these official bodies, so we have acquired a large number of their plans.
Architects’ plans and even sketches, particularly of the grander houses often survive in family archives. From the late 19th century alterations to all property had to be approved by the local authority and a huge number of plans of ordinary properties have come to us from this source.
Remember that proposals shown on documents do not always turn into reality on the ground however even where plans were not carried forward, they show the ideas which led to what actually happened and this can be immensely useful for the building historian