History of maps

Maps have long been used in history in all civilizations the first known depiction of England was by Ptolemy in about AD 150. The first native map is the ‘Anglo-Saxon map produced at the end of the tenth century. A major contribution to the mapping of England was the development of Estate Maps from about the 1340s. The Oxford colleges have many good examples of these. Towards the end of the sixteenth century the mapping of individual counties was developed. In 1579 Christopher Saxton published one of the first regional atlases of any country in the world. The first maps including Oxfordshire was published in 1574.

Many map makers followed including John Speed who was the first to divide the counties into hundreds and the maps went through a large number of editions from 1611 to 1770.

Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion a series of poems published in 1613 was illustrated by a series of maps showing the most important towns rivers and woods and hills and was lavishly decorated. In the case of Oxfordshire, it is combined with Buckinghamshire and Berkshire and shows the confluence of the Thames and Kennet.
In the 17th century the Dutch were pr-eminent engravers of maps. The first of the Oxfordshire maps was produced by Jansson in 1644.

Ogilby’s Britannia, initially roads were not included in maps until in 1675 John Ogilby produced his Britannia which detailed the principle roads of England and Wales.
In 1677 Dr Robert Plot published a Natural History of Oxfordshire and contains a beautifully engraved and highly decorated map of Oxfordshire by Michael Burghers.
In 1767 Thomas Jefferys who won a competition set up in 1759 by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce published his very detailed and accurate map of Oxfordshire.

In 1797 Richard Davis of Lewknor produced the most remarkable large scale map of Oxfordshire.

Another surveyor who produced large scale maps was Andrew Bryant and his map of Oxfordshire was published in 1823 marking the end of the separate surveying of counties under private enterprise

They have a fascination all of their own.  Particularly old maps detailing how areas and boundaries have changed over the centuries until today.  No doubt they will change again in the future.

During our search for Chinnor Heritage several old maps have come to light.  These maps range from 1574 through so far to 1873.

These valuable and in some cases, fragile maps, have been collated into one pdf.  It is recognised that some are feint, and possibly difficult to study, however, enlarging your own devices screen may assist in your perusal. 

Aerial Photos 

Maurice Pullen was born and bred in Chinnor and grew up in one of the cottages in the High Street.  Over the years his collection of photos of Chinnor has grown enormously and will eventually be available to everyone

Maurice is currently Treasurer / Secretary of the Chinnor Heritage team, and often a writer in the Chinnor Pump regarding the history of Chinnor.  He has two new articles for publication.  The Aerial photos of Chinnor together with the text give a remarkable impression of Chinnor just after the second World War. You will find both articles in the document library below.

Beating the Bounds (Rogationtide)

Rogationtide, is the traditional time to walk and mark the bounds of the Parish.  In times gone by the ceremony was an essential part of parish administration, this was before maps and literacy were commonplace.  It was done, in part, to make clear to the parish officers their boundaries for burial and poor law purposes.  At various boundary marks, it might be a tree, pond, stone or such like, the parson paused to give thanks for the fruits of the earth and to read the gospel.  The company carrying peeled willow wands, then symbolically beat or bumped the boys or younger members of the party.  This was done as a reminder to all of the boundaries. A further reminder was the serving of bread, cheese and ale on the return to the village.