Tithe Maps

Image: Tithe Map of Smethwick

Image from: Birmingham City Archives

Tithe maps mark the end of an era. From medieval times one-tenth of produce in kind and stock (a tithe) was paid by landholders to the church. Through the centuries there had been many changes in land ownership, and many tithe payments in kind had been commuted into a cash payment. In 1836 the Tithe Commutation Act was passed to abolish payment in kind throughout England and Wales.

There was a need for the land to be surveyed so it could be valued. The cost of a first-class survey was estimated at £1,500,000 for the country; because of protests it was agreed that older maps could be used. Only one-sixth of the maps submitted were deemed first-class. Some areas were not mapped, as they were exonerated from tithe payment

This was the start of a new era in mapping. It was the first large-scale survey of the country; 79% of England and Wales was mapped. There were recommended symbols, but frequently these were not adopted. There were various scales, but 75% were at 3, 4 or 6 chains to the inch; 26.6″, 20″,13″3 to the mile. With each map a tithe apportionment listed all landowners, tenants and fields in the tithe district. Each field was given a reference number, and the amount of rent charge apportioned on each field was given at the end.

Hugh Stowell Brown worked as an assistant to David Macfarlane, responsible for the survey of Harborne and Smethwick, three miles to the west of Birmingham. They arrived there in January 1840. The following extract from his autobiography illustrates the danger of relying on old maps:

“Macfarlane was scarcely sober the day we went to Smethwick, but there he
made a discovery that sobered him at once. His undertaking was not exactly to
make a new survey of the parish, but to correct an old map and form one with
all the alterations of the past twelve or fifteen years. Consequently he had taken
the job at a very low rate per acre, expecting to have very little work to do but to
go over the parish with the old map and to jot down the new houses fences etc.
The old map showed Smethwick as a place of green fields with a few
farmhouses. To my master’s consternation he found a town with miles of
streets, with forges, factories, and glass works and I know not what besides.
The work that was to have been done in a month would take at least four
months. Macfarlane was in despair. He swore at and cursed the land agent
from whom he had taken the unfortunate contract. But he had the good sense
not to get drunk; he became all but a teetotaller and continued sober all the time we were in Smethwick. He also became very penurious and almost starved me.” 6

6 Extract included in Harborne and Smethwick Tithe Apportionment, Transcription by A.C. & D. Guest, 1988 taken from Hugh Stowell Brown, His Autobiography, ed. W.S. Caine 188.

Birmingham in 1810

TO THE COMMISSONERS OF THE STREET ACTS, THIS MAP OF THE TOWN AND PARISH OF Birmingham, Showing the Boundaries as perambulated by them, IN THE YEAR 1810. Is most respectfully inscribed, by their most obedient Servant, JOHN KEMPSON, Surveyor.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

John Kempson produced a number of maps of Birmingham between 1808 and 1825. He is listed in Wrightson’s 1812 Directory as: John Kempson, land surveyor, auctioneer, and agent to the County Fire and Provident Life Offices, Cherry Street.

This town plan has the scale and orientation; west-north-west, approximately, is at the top of the map. Birmingham was growing and diversifying rapidly. In 1700 there were 15032 inhabitants, by 1811 there were 85,755. To the north-west the Jewellery Quarter was being developed. Matthew Boulton’s works at Soho lay just beyond. Canals had helped this growth; the Worcester, the Birmingham and Fazeley, and the ‘Birmingham Old Canal’ now appear. The wharves, the canal office and a large Iron Foundry lie in the area to the south of Broad Street. New places of worship appear: there are ‘Roman chapels’ on Shadwell Street, and near Edward Street. There is also a ‘Jews Burial Ground’ near the Worcester Canal. Other buildings include baths, a Post Office on New Street, schools, an asylum, a General Hospital on Summer Lane, and Forrests Brewery.

Bowling-greens and cherry orchards are no longer shown in the centre of Birmingham, but nevertheless there was countryside not too far away, farmers’ and landowners’ names appear in Winson Green and Soho. In the bottom left-hand corner hackney coach fares are listed, from under 1 mile up to four miles. This suggests that people had started to build houses in the countryside around Birmingham and were now travelling into Birmingham for work. A local broadside song, ‘Brummagem I can’t find’, was first sung in 1828 in the Theatre Royal. One verse describes what may have been a common experience at that time:

“I remember one John Growse, a buckle maker in Brummagem,
He built himself a country house to be out of the smoke of Brummagem
But though John’s country house stands still, the town itself has walked up hill,
Now he lives beside a smoky mill in the middle of the streets of Brummagem.”

The first verse reflects the experiences of Birmingham’s citizens from then to the present day:

“Full twenty years and more are past since I left Brummagem,
But I set out for home at last, to good old Brummagem,
But ev’ry place is altered so there’s hardly a single place I know
Which fills my heart with grief and woe for I can’t find Brummagem.” 5

5 Jon Raven, Industrial Songs of the Black Country and Birmingham


Image: Cartouche from 1772 map of Worcestershire. Fruit is important to the agriculture of Worcestershire, and fruit of various kinds entwine the surrounds of the dedication. Below are the River Severn, important for transport, kilns, and a typical landscape for Worcestershire with hills and trees.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

The oldest English maps were not a continuous survey, as in the modern Ordnance Survey, but followed the boundaries of the county. This meant that there would be a significant amount of white space, which was used for various purposes. If the map was sponsored by a patron, or if the map-maker hoped it would be, then the names or the coats-of-arms might be included. The key would fit in one of the corners, rather than in a border as nowadays. The orientation, and scale, would usually fit in another corner.

John Ogilby’s road-maps incorporated decorative cartouches at the top of the page; some with coats-of-arms, some with scenes of country life, for example hunting, or a shepherd and shepherdess with sheep. As towns grew in size, map-makers tried to appeal to a wider audience. Many county maps and town-plans of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have insets showing miniature prospects of the most important towns, or the important buildings in a town, usually churches. Sometimes the title of the map would appear as if engraved on a plaque, surrounded by leaves. People were not usually shown. Maps of counties might include an illustration of the major agriculture or industries.

Another example of a cartouche from James Sherriff’s 1798 map of the area for 25 miles around Birmingham, serves as the introductory image for Maps and Map Making: the West Midlands Experience.

Birmingham and the Country Around, 1798

Image: ‘A MAP OF UPWARDS OF 25 MILES ROUND THE TOWN OF BIRMINGHAM. To his most sacred MAJESTY GEORGE the THIRD, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, &c,&c. This MAP, with permission, is respectfully inscribed by Jas. Sherriff.’ North is at the top of the map. The scale is in a cartouche bottom left, with a ruler showing statute and geographical miles on a background of measuring tools.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

The map covers all of Warwickshire, with some of Staffordshire and Worcestershire. Birmingham is at the centre. This was a new development, showing the area around a major town, rather than depicting an individual county. Three of the corners are taken up by cartouches, but the map extends to the edges where possible. This is particularly useful for Birmingham, which lay on the edge of Warwickshire. Frequently with previous county maps there was only white space beyond the boundary. Major towns might be indicated, but the roads leading to them might not appear. There were anomalies for historic reasons; islands of one county being situated in the middle of another. Dudley was part of Worcestershire, but surrounded by Staffordshire; Tardebigge was part of Warwickshire, but was surrounded by Worcestershire. These islands appeared on some maps as white holes in the middle of a county.

The first map of this type had shown ‘the Country Twenty Miles Round London’, engraved by Cary, published in 1782. This map was produced by James Sherriff, surveyed 1788 – 1796, and published in 1798. James Sherriff is listed in a 1798 Birmingham trade directory as a Land surveyor, New St. He had diversified by 1812, when he appears in Wrightson’s directory as a ‘surveyor and British wine maker’, in the Crescent. He also produced maps of the ‘Environs of Liverpool’ in 1800 and 1823.

The key – ‘Explanations’ – has synbols which differentiate between classes of road, i.e. ‘Turnpike Roads’, and ‘Cross and Bye Roads’. There are separate symbols for ‘Coal and Lime Pits’. Completed and projected canals are shown by the same symbol; the Birmingham-Warwick canal was not completed until the following year. Some hills, such as Lickey Beacon, are shown by hachuring.

The map is very accurate for Birmingham and the outskirts. Many places around Birmingham, now suburbs, appear for the first time. For most the spelling is modern. Aston is now ‘Aston juxta (next to) Birmingham. In addition to the large halls, some other buildings are shown; ‘School’, Office’ , ‘Garrison’, ‘New Brewery’. The area near Soho Foundry is named ‘Moneybag Hill’, this may be a reference to the first steam-powered mint in the world, built by Matthew Boulton in 1788.

Canal Maps

Image: ‘PLAN of the intended NAVIGABLE CANAL from the TOWN of BIRMINGHAM into the RIVER SEVERN near the CITY of WORCESTER’. Surveyed in 1789 by John Snape. The plan shows only county boundaries, rivers, canals, hills, roads, villages, houses and trees lying near the proposed route. The orientation is adapted to the direction of the canal, with east south-east at the top of the map.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

Manmade waterways, or navigable canals linking rivers were constructed from the mid-eighteenth century, offering cheap and reliable transport for coal for industry, and an efficient way for industries to deliver goods to market. The canals were built by private enterprise. Companies made money from tolls on the canal. Investors in Birmingham’s first canal profited greatly, by 1789 the company was paying its shareholders dividends of 17.5%. John Freeth, a local balladeer and publican, wrote a ballad to celebrate the opening, which included these verses:

“This day for our new Navigation is banished all care and vexation,
At the sight of the barges each honest heart glads,
and the merriest of mortals are Birmingham lads…
Since by the canal navigation, of coals we’ve the best in the nation,
Around the gay circle your bumpers then put,
for the cut of all cuts is a Birmingham cut.”3

Canals required a feasibility study surveying levels. The best plans were those produced by canal engineers, for example James Brindley. Brindley’s canals were rarely straight, curving round inclines to follow contours. However, when work on the Trent Mersey scheme started in 1766, the industrialist Josiah Wedgwood was frustrated in his desire for a ‘serpentine line’ to complement the design of his new factory, lying close to the canal:
‘… the fields were so flat that the canal could run straight, and after long arguments with Brindley’s assistant [Wedgwood] reported glumly, ‘I could not prevail upon the inflexible Vandal to give me one line of Grace. He must go the nearest, & the best way, or Mr. Brindley would go mad.’ 4

When a canal company was formed a private Act of Parliament was required to permit the project. The application for the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, first put before Parliament in 1789, was eventually successful in 1791. By the 1790s Parliament was receiving so many applications that from 1794 a plan was required to accompany the scheme. Some canals for which permission was granted were never built. Some later maps incorporated the plans, hence showing non-existent canals!

3 Jon Raven, The Urban and Industrial songs of the Black Country and Birmingham

Keys and Explanations

Image: Key from map of Staffordshire, Phillips & Hutchings, 1832.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

The key includes new symbols which reflect contemporary society, and recent history. Railways were very new at that time, but already there is a symbol for them. The Reform Act was passed in 1832; there is a symbol for ‘Places that send members to Parliament’ and under the Notes there is also a symbol for Polling Places. The Note also gives statistics about the population. Toll bars on roads are indicated, and locks on canals. There is artistry in the combination of some signs in the key. The hachuring which shows hills is extended so that it lies around the sign for rivers, and the signs for wind and watermills are placed so that the windmills are on high ground, and the watermills are on the rivers

Keys and Explanations

Image: One of the earliest keys, from the late seventeenth century copy of the 1603 ‘Anonymous’ map. This is the only panel on the side of the map to include both Latin and English, all other text is in Latin. The key is presumably the section which the surveyor thought might need explanation. Although there are rivers, roads and woods on the map, they are not indicated on the key.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

Keys, often called Explanations, developed through the period, as the landscape itself changed. Some early maps did not include keys, although where only a few features of the landscape appeared they were probably sufficiently self-explanatory. As new types of building, road, and means of communication had appeared, so new symbols had been devised. Some symbols show developing technology, Wind Mills, Water Mills, Coal Mines, Canals. ‘Post Roads’ became ‘Turnpike Roads’. However, some retained historical information due to having been copied. This information was sometimes copied through several generations, as on Laurie and Whittles 1818 map of Warwickshire which still included symbols in the key relating to the English Civil War.

In addition, during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, new tools were developed to measure the landscape. ‘Waywisers’ measured distance along roads. From Ogilby onwards hachuring had been used to indicate slopes or hills, when they were shown. Jesse Ramsden invented the first version of the theodolite in 1763, and then refined it. It was used in the survey which established the triangular connection between France and England, which began in 1787. The Ordnance Survey was officially established in 1791. It carried out triangulation of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland 1798-1853.

Birmingham in 1751

Image: This is a street plan from 1751, surveyed by Samuel Bradford and engraved by Thomas Jefferys. Samuel Bradford had also made a plan of Coventry in 1750. Orientation – north is at the top. Many landmarks are named. The scale is 4 chains to one inch. There are separate symbols for deciduous trees and conifers.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

There is a list of the streets and lanes, with the number of houses and inhabitants in each. The town had grown steadily since Westley’s map twenty years earlier. There were several new streets in the area to the north-west of St. Philip’s, for example Colemore Row, Charles Street, Livery Street and Snow Hill. Several areas are marked as ‘ Land for Building ‘, with plots marked out; in the streets to the west and north-west of St. Philip’s, and to the north-east of the centre.

A cartouche on the edge of the plan gives a very brief history, and then information about Birmingham at that time:

“St. Philips Church was erected in the reign of King George I, who gave 600L. towards the finishing of it. St. Bartholomew’s Chappel was lately built and consecrated in the Year 1750. This Town tho’ very large and populous has only two Churches and two Chappels, Viz. St. Martin’s & St. Philip’s Churches. St. Bartholomew’s which belongs to St. Martin’s Parish, and St. John’s Chappel in Deretend belonging to the Parish of Aston, but there are several Meeting Houses for Dissenters of almost all denominations. A Charity School for Boys & Girls & a large handsome Workhouse.
This Place has been for a long series of Years increasing in its Buildings, & is superior to most Towns in ye Kingdom for its elegance and regularity, as well as Number & wealth of the Inhabitants, its prosperity is owing greatly to ye Industry of ye People who have for many Years carried on an extensive Trade in Iron and other Wares, especially in the Toy Business which has gained the Place a name & great esteem all over Europe. “

According to William Hutton’s History, published 1783, the Workhouse was built in 1733, at a cost of 1173L 3s 5d. The Charity School was in St. Philip’s churchyard, and dated from 1724.

Two factors which led to Birmingham’s growth are mentioned. In Birmingham there had been few guilds, hence fewer restrictions on setting up new businesses. Many Dissenters, such as Hutton himself, moved to Birmingham because of the relative freedom to worship at a time when the Church of England was the official church.. In 1783 Hutton lists Quaker, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian meetings. The ‘Toy Business’ also played a significant part in Birmingham’s growth. ‘Toys’ were not necessarily for children, they were a range of small metal goods including buttons, buckles, snuff-boxes amongst other things.

William Westley’s Prospect of Birmingham, 1732

Image: The East Prospect of Birmingham, 1732. BIRMINGHAM, a Market Town in the County of WARWICK, which by the art and industry of its Inhabitants, has for some years past been render’d famous all over the World, for the rare choice and inventions of all sorts of Wares and Curiositys, in Iron, Steel, Brass &c; admir’d as well for their cheapness, as their peculiar beauty of Workmanship.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

This is the only prospect published by William Westley, accompanying the Plan published in 1731. The Prospect was dedicated to Thomas Archer and Henry Archer; Esqrs. It lists the major buildings in the town; churches – St. Philip’s had only been built about 15 years previously, and has a dominating position on the skyline. There are the Baptist and Presbyterian meeting houses, lying close together near Dale End, in an area just being developed. The Presbyterian chapel remains, it is now St. Michael’s, on Moor Street. The Free School, King Edward’s, was then in New Street.

In the foreground there are men and women fishing, riding, hunting, walking. This suggests that the people of Birmingham liked to see themselves as prosperous enough to enjoy various leisure activities. A comment below another prospect, by the Bucks brothers, gives the impression that Birmingham is an orderly town: ‘The Town is govern’d only by two Constables…’

William Hutton, when he first visited Birmingham in the early 1740s, was impressed by both the town and its inhabitants. First viewing it from Handsworth Heath:

‘It appeared in all the pride of modern architecture… The outskirts of [other towns]… seemed to be composed of wretched dwellings, visibly stamped with dirt and poverty. But the buildings in the exteriors of Birmingham rose in a style of elegance. Thatch, so plentiful in other places, was not to be met with in this.
I was surprised at the place, but more so at the people. They possessed a vivacity I had never beheld. I had been among dreamers, but now I saw men awake. Their very step along the street showed alacrity… The town was large and full of inhabitants, and these inhabitants full of industry.’ 2

2 William Hutton, An History of Birmingham

William Westley’s Plan of Birmingham, 1731

Image: The 1731 town plan of Birmingham bears this dedication: To the Honourable Edwd. Digby & Willm. Peyton Esqs, Members of Parliament for the County of Warwick, this Plate is humbly Dedicated by their most obedt. humble Servt.W. Westley

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

William Westley was a Birmingham surveyor. He owned land between Dale End and Steelhouse Lane, and on the Plan there is a ‘Westley’s Row’. parallel with Dale End.

The Plan gives some statistics for Birmingham in 1700, and Birmingham in 1731.
In 1700 there were 30 streets, 100 courts and alleys, 2,504 houses, 15032 inhabitants. At that time the number of inhabitants was generally estimated from the number of houses. The important buildings were: ‘one Church dedicated to St. Martin & a Chappel to St. John & a School founded by Edward 6th also 2 Dissenting Meeting Houses’.

By 1731 there were an additional 25 streets, 50 courts and alleys, 1252 houses and 8254 inhabitants. The town was nearly half as big again as it had been 30 years earlier. There was a new church, St. Philip’s, with a charity school in the churchyard. The Prospect drawn by the Bucks brothers in 1731 gives further details about this and King Edward’s School: ‘a Charity School wherein are maintain’d and taught upwards of 50 Boys & Girls; and a Free Grammar School, founded and endow’d with a large revenue by King Edward the sixth now rebuilt in a stately and commodious form.’

Several plots, on Moor Street, Park Street, and Steelhouse Lane, are marked ‘Land for Building’. But there were still cherry orchards – Greenwood’s, between New Street and Pinfold Street, and Walker’s, between New Street and Bull Street. Corbet’s Bowling Green lay next to Walker’s orchard. The open land next to St. Martin’s was then the Corn Market. In 1782 William Hutton recorded the name-change in his history
‘the place which has obtained the modern name of Bull-ring, and which is used as a market for corn and herbs…’ Earlier in the same history, Hutton had written that one John Cooper, in the sixteenth century, had obtained as one of three privileges from the Lord of the Manor: ‘that he should, whenever he pleased, beat a bull in the Bull-ring, whence arises the name…’ 1

1 William Hutton, An History of Birmingham

The First Road Maps, John Ogilby, 1697

Image:The road-map showing part of the route between London and Welshpool, from John Ogilby’s Britannia, published in 1675. Ogilby was the first to use the statute mile. The orientation is on each section of the road. Towns may have a correct, and a common name: ‘Solihull vulgo Silhill’, ‘Birmingham vulgo Bromwicham’.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library


In medieval times there had been route-books; some maps showed towns on pilgrim routes, but there were neither precise measurements, nor details to guide the traveller. There were road maps for Germany as early as 1501, but Saxton’s county maps in the 1570s did not include roads.

The first detailed road-maps of England and Wales were produced in 1675, with the publication of Britannia, ‘a Geographical and Historical DESCRIPTION of the principal Roads thereof. Actually Administered and Delineated in a Century of Whole-Sheet Copper-Sculps.’ John Ogilby, 1600-1676, only came to map-making towards the end of his life. First a dancer, then a dancing-master, he was then a manager and director of Dublin’s theatre, returning to England in the 1640s. In the 1650s he translated and published classics such as Aesop’s fables. He set up his own printing shop in London, and produced a series of travel atlases which included both maps and traveller’s tales.

Ogilby desired to map the roads and counties of England and Wales. An advertisement in November 1971 announced that by Royal Command Ogilby was to ‘make a particular Survey of every County’. He received sponsorship from the London Court of Aldermen, and from King Charles II and Queen Catherine. In the Museum of London there is a portrait of the King and Queen receiving Ogilby in Whitehall Palace, taken from Morgan’s map of London, 1682. Ogilby supervised the surveyors, John Aubrey and Gregory King were involved.

Ogilby’s maps are artistic, but they are also practical guides for the traveller. Ogilby had discussed the survey with Robert Hooke, and members of the Royal Society. This brought new standards of measurement, precision and verification. Hooke suggested that hills should be shown by lines sloping upwards on ascent, and downwards on the descent. There were town plans for larger towns. At the time of the map above Birmingham was a small market town, Shrewsbury was larger, important because of its position near the Welsh border. Specific landmarks are shown to help the traveller; ‘Cole pitts’ near Dudley, ‘Gunners Oak’, ‘Lady Oake’ and ‘Great Oak’ on different sections of the route.

Early Warwickshire Maps

Image: The ‘Anonymous’ map of Warwickshire Printed by John Overton of London. The date on it is 1603; it is a copy of Saxton’s map, with additions and corrections. North is at the top, and there is a scale.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

Map-makers often used older surveys, and map-engravers often re-used plates of older maps which they had acquired. In the 1670s John Ogilby complained of pages being pirated; the printers Bassett and Chiswell ‘Have Rob’d my Book’. Copying was not always intellectual theft, in some cases printers purchased plates of older maps, and re-issued maps with minimal alteration. An 1818 Warwickshire map betrays its descent from Dugdale’s 1656 map through generations of copies; in the Explanation it still lists ‘Garrisons for the King’, ‘Garrisons for the Parliament’, although it was now 170 years since the Civil War

The ‘anonymous’ map is one of a series of twelve county maps which first appeared in 1603. They were probably by William Smith, antiquary and then herald. Some were produced in Amsterdam. A second imprint ‘Series of Anon County Maps’ was produced by Peter Stent in London in 1650. This particular imprint was ‘Printed and sould by Io: Overton overagainst St. Pulchers church’. John Overton had acquired stock and presses from Peter Stent in 1665. The imprint was issued at some time between 1668 and 1707 by him in sets of county maps, which included the anonymous series, and maps by other mapmakers. His son Henry Overton was to reissue the anonymous series in 1708.

Saxton’s map of Warwickshire and Leicestershire together had been printed in 1576. Additions and changes to Saxton’s map are described in Latin.

“WARWICK COMITATUS DESCRIPTIO Quam primus aedidit Christophorus

Saxton, Anno 1576. Nunc de integro correcto, aucta, et restituta. Cui adduntur (praeter 60. locos qui priore desiderabantur) Singula Hundreda, Viae notiores, in usum itinerantium accomodatae: et alia infimae notae nonnulla. Anno 1603”

About sixty places had been added to the Saxton map as had ‘better-known’ roads and the hundreds boundaries. The hundreds were administrative subdivisions of counties in Anglo-Saxon England, and had existed since the tenth century. The names came from the agreed meeting-place, often remote from any settlement. Birmingham was in Hemlingford hundred – Hemlingford, until replaced by a bridge, was a ford over the River Tame near Kingsbury.

Statistics in Latin show: 13 market towns, 158 parish churches, 7 rivers and 11 bridges. Only the two most important cities, Coventry and Warwick, are named.
Place-names are in English. Spellings were not consistent at this time. On seventeenth century maps Birmingham is written variously as Brimingham, Bermicham, Bromwychm. Aston is described as ‘Bermichams Aston’.

Maps and Map Making: the West Midlands Experience

Image: Cartouche from James Sherriff’s map of the area for 25 miles around Birmingham, 1798.

Image from: Local Studies and History, Birmingham Central Library

The cartouche uses the conventions of eighteenth and early nineteenth century maps of cities. As was often the case, there are pictures of the most significant churches, St. Philip’s on the left, in the modern part of Birmingham on top of the hill; St. Martin’s on the right, lower down, surrounded by houses. There is a framework of a tree and leaves, also a convention. But St. Philip’s lies in the background, in the foreground there are wharves, canals and barges, loading coal. There is also a small figure, leading horses. The scroll with the title hangs down between the two churches, disguising the fact that in reality they could not have been seen in such proximity.


In the 1570s, Christopher Saxton, a Yorkshire surveyor, was commissioned to produce the first detailed survey of England and Wales. Elizabeth I granted Saxton the lease of lands in Suffolk, because of the ‘grand charges and expenses lately had and sustain’d in the survey of divers parts of England’. Her chief minister, Lord Burghley, used maps extensively for administration and there are copies of Saxton’s county maps with his annotations.

Over the next two and a half centuries there were changes in the economy and society of the country, and these changes were reflected both in the landscape, and in maps. In 1700 one person in six lived in a town, by 1800 this had doubled to one person in three. Birmingham grew from a small market town on the edge of Warwickshire to one of the major towns in the country. As scientific accuracy came to be more highly valued and new technology meant better tools for surveying. By 1830 there was a substantial middle class who could afford to buy maps. Some were produced as luxury items as well as guides.