DCRS and Devon Maps lecture

CAHMS' membership of the Devon and Cornwall Record Society enabled members to enjoy Irene Andrew's talk on Devon Maps held at Sowton

CAHMS has had contact with the Devon & Cornwall Record Society, with some of our members having been individual members, for many years. We recently joined the Society because we want very much to support the excellent work DCRS does. It was set up as long ago as 1904 to transcribe and publish local records and promote local historical studies and genealogy. Over the years they have published or acquired masses of literature which is now housed at the Devon Heritage Centre. They hold regular lectures. Their most recent printed publication is The Exeter Cloth Dispatch Book 1763-65 edited by Dr Todd Gray, which includes previously unknown references to local cloth making, especially Sandford.

One of the benefits of the relationship is that our members can attend the DCRS lectures, currently being presented on Zoom. The programme for spring is shown on CurrentEvents. Irene Andrews presented the first of these on Saturday January 16th, on the subject of Devon Maps. Irene, Devon Archives and Local Studies Manager at the Devon Heritage Centre, described the centre's map collection, held at Sowton.

Sowton holds an almost complete collection of the Ordnance Survey County Series maps, the first revision of which was produced for Devon in the 1880s at scales of 6 inches and 25 inches to the mile. There are several early county maps, as well as a number of estate maps and more specialised documents, e.g. maps for insurance purposes.

The tithe maps and their associated apportionments are a tremendous, and under-used, resource. They are the result of the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836, which allowed tithes to be paid with money rather than produce, and prompted a nationwide survey of all productive land. For each parish there is a detailed map with every plot of land identified with an index number which references an entry in the accompanying apportionment table, showing the owner, occupier, area, usage and other details.

Most CAHMS members will be familiar with the 1598 Norden and 1743 Fire maps, originals of which (or at least something nearer to the original than CAHMS's copies) are held at Sowton.

Many of the map collections have been digitised, and can be examined on websites like the National Library of Scotland, KnowYourPlace or (in the case of the tithe maps) DCC's Historic Environment Record – a huge benefit during the pandemic - but in normal times there is stilll considerable demand for physical maps

Irene is in the throes of producing an information sheet relating to maps, which, amongst other things, will list the bibliography and web links shown in the lecture. When it becomes available we will publish details.


20 January 2021