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Studying your Map

 Project Ideas



Migrating villages

This feature ‘Study Your Map’ goes hand-in-hand with the features ‘Map Your Study’ and ‘Pace Your Place’. Below we give some examples of what may be found by ‘studying your map’.

When you first decided to start a one-place study, it’s highly likely that you looked at a map of one description or another to determine the boundaries of your study area.

Many one-placers choose to study the whole of a parish or township and so all settlements within the parish or township boundaries would be included. This is particularly true of one-placers who belong to Online Parish Clerk projects.

For parishes in England, you can obtain an online map showing the present-day ecclesiatical parish boundaries through A Church Near You - just enter the parish name and select ‘Find us’.

For parishes in England & Wales, you can obtain an online map showing the parish boundaries back in 1851 through Family Search - just enter the parish name.

You can see how the parish boundaries have changed. Great Hallingbury has ceded territory, mostly to its neighbour Little Hallingbury. And, of course, the motorway now snakes through the parish!

Changing boundaries

Spot the Difference

Great Hallingbury

This example is for the parish of Great Hallingbury in Essex, registered just a few days before this issue of ‘Places in Time’ was published by one-placer Michelle Watson. Compare the two images.

East Lulworth

Creekmoor & Waterloo


Creekmoor & Waterloo


Gone without a trace?

Every place is unique

The beauty of one-places studies is that every study place is unique. Places evolve at different times, at different speeds and for lots of different reasons.

Most one-placers want to understand the hows and whys of their place’s development, or lack of, over the centuries. What were the pushes and pulls? What part did local resources, local landowners, local transport links etc. play in this?

Historic maps are great for revealing changes over time. Or even confirming that little has happened!

To the right we again use, as an example, the parish of Great Hallingbury in Essex. A period of 68 years separates the two Ordnance Survey maps.  

Apart from the map styling, surprisingly little has changed. But take a closer look at the church. It’s transformed from St. Mary’s to St. Giles’s.

Given the church at Little Hallingbury is dedicated to St. Mary’s, it may be that the Ordnance Survey got a little confused between the two back in 1879!

When passing through a village centre, there is a natural tendency to assume it’s always been there. Sometimes we only think twice if we happen to spot a church tower or spire peaking out through the trees well away from the village.

The Black Death is believed to have entered England through the port of Weymouth in 1348.

But villages have migrated for other reasons, as the examples 70 years apart for East Lulworth (right) show.

Has your place migrated for any reason?


A similar map and survey in 1840 shows a different picture. Edward Weld’s son Thomas Weld (1750-1810) extended the grounds of Lulworth Castle by demolishing all of the cottages and other buildings within a quarter of a mile, leaving only the Anglican church (immediately south of the castle on both maps). The castle grounds were then enclosed with boundary walls. Pictured are the cottages nearest to the castle that survived!

As well as sweeping the country, it took its toll on Dorset itself.

At Lytchett Matravers, the villagers who survived the bubonic plague left their homes around the ancient church (circled in red below) and re-established the village on higher ground to the south-east away well away from the original settlement, some traces of which still remain. This pattern was repeated in villages elsewhere.

At East Lulworth in Dorset, the Weld Family have been landowners since 1641. Lulworth Castle, top left, was built between 1606 and 1610 and played host to five reigning monarchs. A survey was undertaken and a map produced for Edward Weld (1747-1775) in 1770 which together show who was paying rent for which properties etc. The map also shows how close the castle was to the village. But things were about to change!

In the UK, the Ordnance Survey (O.S.) has been producing maps for over 200 years. Many historic O.S. maps are available online at sites like Old Maps Online, National Library of Scotland and Vision of Britain (see Map Resources 1 page).

Studying maps from different time periods and comparing them can help you understand the history of your place. In towns the changes can be very marked.

The last of our ‘spot the difference’ map examples (right) are taken around 80 years apart. They cover the Creekmoor and Waterloo areas to the north-west of Poole which have seen substantial changes over the time period. None of these are yet one-place study areas.

Without the 1933 map to hand, someone viewing the 2014 map would have little clue as to the area’s past. So much has changed: Railway gone; Pottery gone; Brick & Tile Works gone; Creekmoor Farm gone; Bushell Mill Farm gone; Clay pits gone; Tramways gone.

Make full use of historic maps for your study area to reveal past factories, closed mines or pits, former rail links (standard gauge or narrow), filled in canals, slum clearances, former aerodromes, land lost to the sea, land reclamation etc.

The 2014 boundary map  for Great Hallingbury showed the motorway snaking through the parish. In some places many properties have been compulsory purchased to make way for new road or rail links and some communities have even been divided by them. Is your study place one of them?

Be sure to check out the local record office as they often hold maps not available elsewhere, including tithe maps (see example below). Local libraries often have map cabinets with large scale maps in sheet form to view.

Please do let us know about former features of your place that you’ve identified from historic maps or even from clues in street names etc. Email us at places@oneplacestudy.org

The 1933 map shows a railway line running past Creekmoor Pottery (which has its own tramway to the pits), Creekmoor Brick & Tile Works and Broadstone Sewage Works. Apart from the main road connecting Wimborne to Poole there are relatively few roads. Some planned housing has been built south-east of the pottery. There is a reservoir top right. Two farms are marked.

In the 2014 map the railway line has gone - instead  an ‘A’ road has taken its place. The Pottery and Brick & Tile Works have gone and been replaced with small industrial estates. A large industrial estate appears east of the Wimborne to Poole Road and Fleet’s Corner has become a major roundabout complete with flyover. The sewage works has been expanded with a major supermarket added on its southern perimeter and a school, bank processing centre and sports/fitness complex to the north. The two farms have gone. The reservoir is now a nature reserve and the pits have been flooded and stocked with fish. How so very different!

Map Your Study

Study Your Map

Kingston in Purbeck

The tithe map shown below confirmed that George Bagwell White (1783-1851), carpenter and Sunday School teacher, lived in the property arrowed.

Not only was George the 4 x great grandfather of Kingston in Purbeck one-placer Martin White, he was also the 3 x great grandfather of Wing one-placer Alex Coles. What a small world!

William Morton Pitt established a rope and sail-cloth factory south of the village (see extract from his obituary above).

It gave employment to men, women and children in the 1790s but fell into decline by the 1820s.

Part of the factory wall is still visible in the boundary walls to the fields.

The field adjacent to the factory was known as Rope Walk. In the 1920s and 1930s the field was used as a cricket ground and it had a pavillion.

Neither the factory nor cricket ground appear on recent maps.

By studying historic maps you can confirm locations of things long since gone!

Maps are a fantastic resource for one-place studies and comparing historical maps with each other and their present day counterparts can help reveal a lot about your place. We share some examples below.


East Lulworth




Great Hallingbury





Tithe map 1845


Elizabeth Wiseman

House & garden


Thomas Wiseman & others

House & 2 gardens


William Tatchill

House & 3 gardens


George White

House & garden


Thomas Baker

Carpenters shop & plot

Compare the level of the detail in the tithe map of 1845 (above) with the Ordnance Survey map of 1830 (right)

This feature ‘Study Your Map’ goes hand-in-hand with the features ‘Map Your Study’ and ‘Pace Your Place’.

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