Blog - #LoveMaps

Posted - 14-11-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections / Digitisation

The Great War in maps

In the wake of the Armistice Day Centenary commemorations, it is perhaps timely to  draw attention to the Library’s maps relating to the conflicts of the First World War, a cataclysm in which 20 million lives were lost, some 40,000 being Welsh.

The Library’s many war maps and atlases display frontlines, trenches and other military paraphernalia, the war’s geopolitical impact in changing political boundaries, post-war redevelopment schemes and even include recreational map-based war games. The maps are of both military and civilian origin, the latter published to inform the  public and boost morale.

Some two hundred maps have been digitised as part of the Library’s War Centennial programme. Included are these two examples of maps from the unsuccessful Gallipoli Campaign – which was associated with inaccurate maps that regularly included outdated information gathered during the Crimean War.

The Gallipoli collection comprises contemporary War Office maps such as the two illustrated examples showing Ottoman defences on the campaign’s opening day and a later map of ANZAC positions, together with commercially published sheets.

 


The Allied attack on Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula, popularly known as the Gallipoli or the Dardanelles Campaign, lasted from April 1915 to January 1916. Here, British Empire and French forces engaged the Ottoman Empire in an unsuccessful attempt to aid Russia and break the impasse on the fighting fronts by opening a shipping route with Russia  unimpeded by excessive winter sea ice and extreme distance.

A failed naval attack in the Dardanelles Strait in early 1915 progressed to a major land invasion on 25th April by British and French troops together with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps or ANZAC forces. A later landing occurred at Suvla Bay on 6th August.

Allied intelligence deficiencies, indecision and delay, combined with fierce Ottoman resistance thwarted headway and success and mired the belligerents in an entrenched battle of attrition and consequential heavy casualties. The British authorized evacuation began in December 1915, and ended the following January.

 

Gwilym Tawy

Map Curator

Posted - 27-10-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections

Dylan’s ‘wood and asbestos pagoda’ and the Captain Killick affair

An architectural drawing of Dylan Thomas’s Majoda bungalow in New Quay, Ceredigion has recently been purchased by the Library. The poet lived at Majoda from 1944 to 1945 where he found creative inspiration and started to write Under Milk Wood. Here he also succeeded in furthering his reputation both near and far -and what better fillip for any all-too-quiet, war-weary community than a resident Dylan Thomas perking things up?

 

The plan is associated with a notorious incident at Majoda on the night of 6th March 1945 when Captain William Killick, a Special Operations Executive (SOE) Commando and also Dylan’s neighbour and erstwhile watering hole chum appeared with a Sten gun and hand grenade and fired into the bungalow in which Dylan and his family were residing. Three friends were also present at the time.  The grenade (which had no detonator) was not deployed and luckily there were no casualties. The ferment led to a court case in Lampeter which was covered by the major newspapers and portrayed in the semi-biographical film The Edge of Love in 2008.

 

Captain Killick, who had recently returned from active service in Greece, was venting his spleen following tensions with Dylan which included the relationship between Dylan and the Captain’s wife, Vera, with whom Dylan had grown up in Swansea.

 

The plan was commissioned from an Aberystwyth architect specifically for the court case. PC Islwyn Williams was the village ‘Bobby’ who investigated the incident and whose pencil notes  appear on the reverse of the plan. These notes describe his observations at the scene – primarily the location of bullet holes.

 

Captain Killick was fortunate in being acquitted of all charges, including attempted murder. In both court and local community there had been some sympathy for the soldier who had survived several highly dangerous war missions behind enemy lines and indeed had been described by the SOE as having ‘an excellent operational record’.

 

 

Gwilym Tawy

Map Curator

Posted - 08-10-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections

Murdoch Mackenzie the elder

Murdoch Mackenzie (Senior) contributed more enduringly to British theoretical and practical hydrography than any other individual. Born in Orkney in 1712, this grandson of the Bishop of Orkney had a mathematical  aptitude  which brought him into contact with mathematician Professor Colin Maclaurin who successfully advocated Mackenzie’s suitability to undertake a hydrographic survey in the Orkney Isles from 1742. Here, Mackenzie had valuable contacts to aid his work which resulted in the most precise and comprehensive marine survey yet undertaken in the British Isles. In 1750 his charts were published  as Orcades, or a geographic and hydrographic survey of the Orkney and Lewis Islands.

With Admiralty patronage, Mackenzie then embarked on a much grander project. He was commissioned in 1751 to survey the west coast of Britain and the entire coast of Ireland, a twenty-two year task which culminated in the publication of two chart volumes in 1774 and 1776.

By 1757 Scotland’s west coast mainland and islands had been surveyed. There followed a ten year survey of Ireland before his return to Great Britain’s western shores. In 1770 the survey ended in Pembrokeshire, the Menai Strait being omitted,  having been regarded by Mackenzie as unnavigable for larger vessels.

 

Mackenzie’s tried and tested surveying methods were acceptably accurate. They were also relatively swift, as is apparent from the prodigious length of coast surveyed in twenty years. This achievement was also particularly commendable bearing in mind the limitations of his surveying and monetary resources.

On Mackenzie’s retirement in 1770, he was succeeded as Admiralty Maritime Surveyor by his nephew, Lieutenant Murdoch Mackenzie (Junior). In 1771 Lieutenant Mackenzie continued where his uncle had ended by surveying the Bristol Channel.

 

Gwilym Tawy

Map Curator

Posted - 24-09-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections

A sea change for English hydrography

This ‘Year of the Sea’ blog highlights the initial bourgeoning of English hydrography, focusing on the work of Captain Collins, who also surveyed the Welsh coast.

In 1657 hydrographer and printer Joseph Moxon ventured into what had traditionally been the Dutch preserve of marine chart production with A Book of Sea Plats. These charts of European waters were nevertheless of Dutch origin.

John Seller envisaged an atlas containing charts surveyed, drawn, engraved, and printed at home. He was appointed Royal Hydrographer and remarkably secured a successful thirty-year order forbidding the import of Dutch ‘Waggoner’ charts (see Waghenaer’s ‘Spieghel’, our preceding maritime blog). Alas, Seller’s ambitions were beyond the means of an individual bookseller and instrument maker. Samuel Pepys later wrote that private individuals were incapable of such huge undertakings, and yet from 1671 Seller’s The English Pilot with its defects and partially refreshed old Dutch plates, progressively ousted ‘Waggoners’ from England.

In 1680 Captain Greenvile Collins began lobbying for a British survey. Collins, an experienced Royal Navy captain and skilled hydrographer was commissioned by King Charles II in 1676 to survey home waters and was promised significant assistance. Collins’s seven year survey began in 1681 and in 1693 his charts  were published in Great Britain’s Coasting Pilot.

 


The survey demanded rigorous coastal measurements and the precise coordinates of headlands. Progress was bedevilled by financial shortages and the waning interest of supporting bodies. Collins’s proposal to survey Ireland in its entirety was not realized.

Collins’s Pilot was the first systematic survey and first maritime atlas of British waters to be engraved and printed in London from original surveys and included forty-eight charts together with sailing directions, tide tables and coastal profiles. Despite inaccuracies and shortcomings the work was an immense advance for British navigation and validated Collins as one of history’s foremost hydrographers.

The Pilot, little altered, was issued between 1693 and 1792 and on at least twelve other occasions. Inevitably, by 1792, it was regarded as requiring considerable improvement.

The Library holds a 1779 copy of this atlas and several individual charts variously dated. Our illustrated charts of the western coasts of Wales and Milford Haven are dated 1693.

 

Gwilym Tawy,

Map Curator.

Posted - 27-08-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections

Waghenaer’s ‘Spieghel’

In Wales, 2018 has been designated the ‘Year of the Sea’ and this, our third maritime themed blog of the year, concerns the earliest chart of the Welsh coast in the Library’s collection. It dates from 1590 and displays the Bristol Channel compiled by Dutch hydrographer Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer (1534-1606). The Dutch were foremost European hydrographers and cartographers, with Leiden, Antwerp and later Amsterdam becoming centres of chart as well as map production.

Waghenaer was a navigating officer and later a collector of marine dues. His practical seafaring experiences and his contacts with seamen and harbour officials proved advantageous in compiling his pilot guide to European coastal waters. Waghenaer’s text was based on traditional 16th-century navigation publications, but his charts added an innovative component, making this the world’s first published pilot guide.

 


The success of the Teerste Deel vande Spieghel der Zeevaerdt (The First Part of the Sea Mirror) of 1584 emanated from Waghenaer’s pioneering chart compilations, their fine engraving and their practical, bound presentation in a single volume. The charts show coastal panoramas and illustrate cliffs and land profiles viewed from the sea signifying that the charts were initially prepared at sea, compass intersections being used to plot prominent coastal features.

Accuracy of coastal configuration was however often lamentable, there being a tendency to exaggerate significant features whilst extensive tracts of topography appear to have been imprecisely drawn from sight. It has been argued that these distortions were excusable since such charts were primarily intended for pilotage at the approaches to important harbours and not for general navigation. In this respect Waghenaer was simply continuing a long-standing chart making tradition.

The success of this first volume encouraged  Waghenaer to publish a second part in 1586 with Latin text. Other translations ensued. When the atlas was shown to Queen Elizabeth and her Privy Council, such was its impact that it was decided to translate the 1586 edition into English, a task  allotted to Anthony Ashley (1551-1628), Clerk to the Privy Council. In 1588 The Mariner’s Mirrour first appeared in its anglicized manifestation and this too proved instantly popular. The guides became known to the British as ‘Waggoners’, a generic moniker for sea atlases and charts which persisted long after  the obsolescence of The Mariner’s Mirrour and its replacement by new Dutch charts. Waghenaer subsequently issued smaller and more practical formats.

 

 

Gwilym Tawy

Map Curator

Posted - 16-08-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events

Humphrey Llwyd the man who put Wales on the map

The 21st of August 2018 marks the 450th anniversary of the death of one of the most important figures of the Welsh renaissance, Humphrey Llwyd of Denbigh. To commemorate this event the National Library of Wales will be holding an exhibition about Llwyd and his work.

Humphrey Llwyd was born in about 1527 in Denbigh. He studied at Oxford obtaining his M.A. in 1551. In 1553 he entered the service of the Earl of Arundel and remained in his retinue for the rest of his life.

One of Llwyd’s functions seems to have been to collect books for Arundel’s library as well as for the Library of Arundel’s son-in-law Lord Lumley, whose sister Llwyd married. These combined Libraries including some of Llwyd’s own books, eventually became part of the Royal Collection now at the British Library.

Returning to Denbigh, Llwyd was elected M.P. for the Denbigh Boroughs in 1563 and subsequently helped to steer the Bill for translating the Bible into Welsh through the Commons.
In 1566 he accompanied Arundel on a trip to the Continent where he was introduced to Abraham Ortelius and a firm friendship blossomed between the two. After returning home Llwyd wrote to Ortelius on at least two occasions providing information relating to Wales which were published after his death by Ortelius in his atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, including the map of Wales Cambriae Typus, the work for which he is now best known. In addition to his maps Llwyd produced a number of works about Welsh history which were also not published until after his death.


The letter shown here is his final letter to Ortelius, written from his deathbed sending one of his texts along with the maps he had made. He apologises that is works are not in better order and regrets that his impending death did not leave him time to improve them, he died 18 days later. The letter is a poignant testimony to the esteem in which this great Welsh polymath was held, kept by Ortelius, who became one of his greatest proponents.


During his life he was described as “the most famous antiquarius of all our country” and his biographer Anthony Wood described him as “a person of great eloquence, an excellent rhetorician, a sound philosopher, and a most noted antiquary, and a person of great skill and knowledge in British affairs.”

Llwyd’s reputation as one of the leading lights of the Welsh renaissance and indeed as one of the creators of modern Welsh national identity has been neglected in the years since his death. Saunders Lewis described him as “one of the most important of Welsh humanists and a key figure in the history of the Renaissance in Wales”.

In recent years, however, there has been a new appreciation of Llwyd’s contribution, there is an ongoing AHRC funded project based around his work “Humphrey Llwyd – Inventor of Britain”, and next year the results of this project will be shown alongside a major exhibition about Llwyd here at the National library.

The current exhibition runs from the 20th to the 31st August in the Summers Room, come along and find out more about the man who put Wales on the map.

Posted - 09-08-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events

#LoveMaps – Dr Shaun Evans

Dr. Shaun Evans is Director of the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates, an all-Wales research centre based at Bangor University which explores issues relating to the history, culture and landscapes of Wales, through the prisms of estates and their cultural heritage collections.  @YstadauCymru

 ‘This place ain’t big enough for the two of us’ – what happens at the boundaries of estates?

My final contribution to the series of blogs on Welsh estate maps focuses on the theme of boundaries. As previously discussed, ownership of land was a crucial part of the Welsh gentry’s claims to status, honour and authority. These connections between land and power often led to strong assertions of territoriality from estate owners and provided a major impetus for the production of estate maps: records which visually asserted the location, extent and composition of an individual’s domains.

The vast majority of estate maps were commissioned to show the lands belonging a single estate. Typically, little or no detail is shown for land not owned by the individual commissioning the map. They do however often give an indication of who owned the adjacent lands, inscribing the names of neighbouring landowners at the margins of the territories marked on the map. This was especially the case if the estate in question was not consolidated, but rather a patchwork of lands intermixed with the landholdings of other estates.

The question I want to explore in this blog is what happened at the boundaries of two estates?

Boundaries were often marked in the landscape by physical features such as trees, rivers, hedgerows, walls and ditches. There are also many examples in Wales of boundary stones marking out the limits of an estate in a landscape, such as in the Black Mountains, Breconshire, which features a line of early-19th century stones demarcating the lands of the Macnamaras of Llangoed Hall . In some places, there was also a tradition of ‘beating the bounds’, which involved groups of local people walking around the boundaries of a manor or parish, thereby inscribing the limits into the memory of the local populace.

Despite these attempts to sure up boundaries, they were regularly the subject of disputes, which could often lead to law cases.

In the National Library of Wales there is a map which focuses on the boundaries of two estates situated around a stretch of Afon Cothi in the parish of Cynwyl Gaeo, Carmarthenshire. The map appears to have been produced in response to a lawsuit filed in the Court of Great Sessions in 1778 by John Johnes, the squire of Dolaucothi, against William Davys of Kencoed (Cefn-Coed Mawr) relating to ‘the watercourse’ (Eaton Evans & Williams Solicitors Records, 3281, 7469).


The map signals an attempt to differentiate between the two estates, with Mr. Johnes’ lands outlined in black and Mr. Davys’ in red and green (the lands in green having been recently acquired by Mr. Davys, previously forming part of the Millfield / Maesyfelin estate). The map shows the proximity of the two houses and though the Dolaucothi mansion was clearly the more eminent structure (surrounded by formal gardens and outbuildings including a barn and mill), the map gives the impression that Kencoed was too close for comfort. The two estates were interfering with one another’s territorial assertions.

A yellow line on the map marks the boundary between the two estates, which for the most part follows the course of the river, though there are two small areas, marked in blue, which are referred to as ‘unknown property’. The lands adjoining the river are marked with 28 numbers, which relate to written notes and explanations on the side of the map.

What becomes clear from these notes is that both estates had been making extensive use of the watercourse as part of their schemes of land and resource management. Two of the notes refer to ‘the water diverted from its usual channel to Kencoed’ and ‘the trench made by Richard Davies about 30 years past to convey water to Kencoed’; whereas reference is also made to ‘the reservoir of water for watering Cae-cwm-yr-hen-dŷ Issa and other lands of Dolecothy demesne’ and ‘a trench to convey water to Cae Rodyn & other lands of Dolecothy demesne in winter and spring for watering the same’.

Both the Dolaucothi and Kencoed estates had redirected or channelled the watercourse to meet their needs, with notes referring to:

– ‘The place the water formerly divided, part going to the mill and the remainder thro Henberllan to Dolecothy mansion’;
– ‘The channel of the watercourse formerly in the upper part of Cae Rodyn and Cae Tŷ Bach’;
– ‘That part of the trench which conveyed the water by Waynnefain hedge, years past & upwards’;
– ‘A trench that formerly conveyed the water to Dolecothy’.

However, the schemes were incompatible, leading to a dispute over the water resources. One of the notes mentions ‘the new trench cut by Mr. Johnes and ye water diverted from thence by Mr. Davys’ servants to the ancient channel’; and others refer to ‘the trench that conveys the water in dispute to Kencoed’ and ‘the trench for conveying the water in dispute to water Cae-cwm-yr-hen-dŷ Issa and other lands at Dolecothy demesne.’ In addition to the dispute over the water, the various schemes which had necessitated the redirection of the watercourse had moved, or at least complicated, the boundary between the two estates, one of the notes referring to ‘the piece of land in dispute’.

The outcome of the Great Sessions case is unknown, though the map gives the impression that the area was unable to sustain the pretentions of the two neighbouring estates. It is perhaps of little surprise that Kencoed and its surrounding lands were purchased by the Dolaucothi estate in 1856 (Dolaucothi Estate Records, 179). The proximity of Kencoed, plus the competition it provided over use of the watercourse, would have provided a significant driver for consolidation, swallowing up the lands to bring them fully into the Dolaucothi ambit of authority.

Over the forthcoming months and years the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates plans to promote further research into Wales’ collections of estate maps. To keep up to date with our work, news and events, please email iswe@bangor.ac.uk to subscribe to our mailing list.

 

Posted - 02-08-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events

#LoveMaps – Shaun Evans

Dr. Shaun Evans is Director of the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates, an all-Wales research centre based at Bangor University which explores issues relating to the history, culture and landscapes of Wales, through the prisms of estates and their cultural heritage collections.  @YstadauCymru

Trees and woodlands

The historian and ecologist Oliver Rackham (1939-2015) asserted that ‘woodland by its very nature can be understood only in terms of historical processes’. In a Welsh context, the understanding of these historical perspectives is not as advanced as it could be, and remains heavily dependent on William Linnard’s seminal work on Welsh Woodlands and Forests: History and Utilization (1982).

Prior to the 20th century the overwhelming majority of woodlands and trees in Wales were located on lands belonging to landed estates. A map of the Bodrhyddan demesne in Flintshire, included in an estate atlas of 1756, gives some indication of the primacy of trees and woodlands in estate landscapes. Here, trees constitute a key aspect in the gardens immediately surrounding Bodrhyddan; they are seen lining the main driveway to the house and other paths and avenues; large standalone trees (probably oaks) feature in the parkland; there are small areas of woodland and wood pasture; there are indications of trees demarcating old field boundaries; and they feature as part of the hedgerows.


Since medieval times, woodlands formed important features in elite recreational landscapes; medieval ‘forests’ were inextricably linked to hunting. Later on, trees and woodlands often played essential roles in the creation of ‘designed’ landscapes, with emphases on the picturesque and sublime. This is clearly suggested in John Davenport’s 1791 plan of intended improvements at Nanteos, the Cardiganshire seat of Thomas Powell. The plan was never implemented, but shows the sites and species of trees which were to be planted or retained to create the desired landscape aesthetic.



On many estates, individual trees could be vested with significant symbolic weight. The Ceubren yr Ellyll, a large hollow oak on the Nannau estate in Merionethshire, provided the vessel for a legend which was at the heart of the Vaughan family’s identity. This was held to be the resting place of the skeleton and spirit of Hywel Sele (ancestor to the Vaughans) who was slain by Glyndŵr after an act of treachery. After the old oak fell down in 1813, the timber was used to create a range of family heirlooms for the Vaughans, including a set of six acorn-shaped toasting cups, which symbolised important links with ancestry and land: a deep-rootedness in the locality. There are numerous examples of this type. It is indicative that in his 1774 map of the Bachymbyd estate in Denbighshire, Meredith Hughes ensured that the three sweet chestnuts known as ‘The Three Sisters’ were depicted in the grounds below Bachymbyd. According to a family legend, the trees were planted in the late-17th century by three sisters of the Salesbury family in recognition of their mutual love and affection. As with the Nannau Oak, it is an example of the owners of the estate affixing parts of their identity to trees within their landholdings.


In addition to their aesthetic and cultural significance, trees and woodlands played important economic roles in the functioning of estates. From an early period they were often subject to intensive management, largely through pollarding and coppicing – to provide a huge range of products, fuel and food – ranging from charcoal, to architectural timbers, acorns for animal fodder and bark for tanning. Woodlands could form valuable economic assets for estates and were often fiercely protected by landlords and their agents. Their economic significance is evidenced by the decision of some families to commission maps dedicated to woodlands in their ownership. A good example is the 1774 map of Canaston Wood, associated with the Slebech estate in Pembrokeshire.


Particularly from the 19th century, forestry became a big part of the business of some estates, signalled by huge schemes of afforestation, the employment of increasingly professionalised foresters (especially from Scotland) and the establishment of large estate sawmills.

Estate records, including estate maps, potentially have a crucial role to play in enhancing understanding the ‘historical processes’ underpinning the Wales’ woodland assets. At the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates at Bangor University, we are beginning to explore some of the research opportunities linking ecology, history, forestry, land management and archives – connecting research to policy and practice. Earlier this year we partnered with Bangor’s Forestry Students Association (BFSA) and the Woodland Heritage charity to organise an event focused on the Past, Present and Future of Woodland Management; in essence, how can an enhanced understanding of the historical framework of woodland management on Welsh estates be used to promote principals of sustainable woodland management in 21st century Wales?

One important way that estate maps might be able to contribute to this agenda relates to the Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI), managed by Natural Resources Wales. This dataset identifies areas in Wales that have had continuous woodland cover since c.1600, thereby producing ecosystems which tend to be more ecologically diverse, culturally significant and worthy of protection. Thus far the AWI in Wales has been primarily based on the woodlands marked on 19th century OS Maps. There would appear to be real opportunities for exploring how earlier estate maps (and related estate records) can be used to enhance the accuracy, coverage, depth and detail of the AWI, including the identification of changing woodland boundaries over time and the marking of ‘veteran’ trees.

This is just one of the ways in which old estate maps can be employed as a useful resource for Wales’ land futures.

Posted - 26-07-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events

#LoveMaps – Dr Shaun Evans

Dr. Shaun Evans is Director of the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates, an all-Wales research centre based at Bangor University which explores issues relating to the history, culture and landscapes of Wales, through the prisms of estates and their cultural heritage collections.  @YstadauCymru

A 17th century map of Whitlera, Carmarthenshire

I mentioned in my last blog post that commissions for estate maps in Wales only really gathered pace from the mid-18th century.  Examples from the two preceding centuries are comparatively rare.

The National Library of Wales has a handful of 16th and 17th century estate maps within their collections, including Humfrey Bleaze’s map of the Powis Castle demesne, completed in 1629 and Robert Johnson’s 1587 survey of the Earl of Worcester’s manors of Crickhowell and Tretower in Breconshire.

The Robert Johnson’s survey is significant because it encapsulates the shift from textual description to cartographic depiction.  Traditional estate surveys usually consisted of written descriptions, noting details such as the name, extent and composition of individual farms, tenants’ names, the annual rent and details of any customs pertaining to the land.  Johnson’s survey combines this form of textual survey with a set of beautifully produced maps, creating an early example of what was essentially an ‘atlas’ of the estate.  Humfrey Bleaze’s map of the Powis Castle demesne was a different type of product: a large single sheet of vellum depicting the main features of the estate landscape, with the name and extent of fields (in acres, roods and perches) etched onto the face of the document.  Both of these products were specially commissioned by landowners, with a view to long-term use and display.

However, there are other types of early estate map which were altogether less conspicuous.  One example from the National Library of Wales is the simple pen-and-ink map of Whitlera in the parish of Llanfynydd, Carmarthenshire, which appears to date from the mid-17th century.  The map is sketched on a single sheet of paper and shows ‘the mease [i.e. house] of Whitlera’, together with an adjacent building and adjoining lands.


A number of other landscape features are depicted, including Afon Sannan and ‘the hie waye’.  Some of the fields feature rows of markings which may be an attempt to show that they had been ploughed.  Other areas include clumps of ‘furrs’ [furze or gorse], suggesting uncultivated wasteland.  A number of trees are also depicted, ranging from what looks like a patch of small woodland, to a large tree standing alone in the middle of one of the fields and a number of smaller trees forming part of one of the hedgerow boundaries.  These spikey hedgerows (perhaps resembling Hawthorn) enclose every field; and there is a clear attempt to depict a more established hedge to the east.

Some of the field-names are marked on the map, such as ‘kae dan y ty’, ‘kae trwynvain’, ‘wayn bwll’ and ‘kaer ddintir’.  Most of these fields are marked as ‘whitleras lande’ – indicating their association with the house.  However, the lands included on the map were not consolidated under the ownership of one individual or estate; the ‘whitleras land’ was intermixed with the land of ‘Owen ap Hennri & Mallt verch Wallter ap Thomas’, ‘Kae Koch, being the lande of Ieuan Lloyd ap Gwillym Vychan’ and bounded to the south by ‘the lands of Sir William Thomas, Knight’.

The main purpose of the map was to depict the extent and boundaries of the lands associated with Whitlera.  Compared to Robert Johnson’s 1587 survey of Crickhowell and Tretower, and Humfrey Bleaze’s map of Powis Castle, there is less emphasis on display.  Indeed, the map was folded up and retained as part of a collection of deeds and documents relating to Whitlera.  It is these associated records which provide some indication as to why the map might have been created.

Since at least the beginning of the 16th century the ownership of Whitlera was the subject of contention and legal proceedings.  In 1604 Richard ap Rutherch and others brought an action in the Court of the Council in the Marches of Wales to settle the title to the messuage and lands of Whitlera.  Six years later the Court of Great Sessions was making judgement on an allegation of trespass into lands around Whitlera.  By the 1620s the house of Whitlera and some of the adjoining lands were in the ownership of Thomas ap Richard ap Ruddergh and his son and heir William Thomas ap Ruddergh.  In 1627 they appear to have sold the lands to Griffith Lewis, an alderman of Carmarthen, who a couple of years later sold the lands to Thomas Newsham of Abersannan.  Over the next few decades the lands were mortgaged on a regular basis, until they were eventually acquired by Nicholas Williams of Rhydodyn (Edwinsford) in the 1670s.

The records relating to these transactions form part of the Edwinsford Estate Archive and they provide useful context for why the map was created.  During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was not uncommon for maps to be commissioned as evidence to support legal proceedings relating to the ownership of land.  It is possible that the map was produced as part of the cases heard by the Council in the Marches of Wales or at the Great Sessions.  However, given the past uncertainties surrounding the ownership of the lands, it is more likely that the map was requested by either Griffith Lewis, Thomas Newsham or Nicholas Williams to append to the deeds evidencing their acquisition of the lands.  In either instance, it is clear that the map cannot be fully understood without reference to the wider body of records relating to the ownership history of Whitlera.  Context is key.

 

 

Posted - 19-07-2018

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events

#LoveMaps – Dr Shaun Evans

Dr. Shaun Evans is Director of the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates an all-Wales research centre based at Bangor University which explores issues relating to the history, culture and landscapes of Wales, through the prisms of estates and their cultural heritage collections.  @YstadauCymru

Welsh estate maps 1: Property, Place and Power

In his influential book, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape, the cultural geographer Denis E. Cosgrove (1948-2008) made the important assertion that:

‘Landscape constitutes a discourse, through which social groups historically have framed themselves and their relations with both the land, and with other human groups’.

This statement is entirely applicable to landed estates, which were dominant structures in the life of Wales from the late-medieval period, through to the early decades of the 20th century.  From Mostyn, Penrhyn, Baron Hill and Nannau in the north, through to the sprawling Wynnstay lands, Powis Castle on the border, Trawsgoed and Gogerddan in mid-Wales and on to Bute, Tredegar, Cawdor and Plymouth lands further south – almost every corner of the Welsh landscape has at some point been influenced by the priorities of an estate.  These estates came in all shapes and sizes, with their character and composition varying according to the interests, identities and influence of their owners and the nature of their geographical and community settings.

Estate maps which developed in England from the 1570s and became more widespread in Wales from the mid-18th century, formed part of the rich and varied accumulations of records which were generated by these estates over the course of their existence.  Many of these records have survived in the hundreds of estate archives and solicitors’ collections which have been deposited in repositories such as the National Library, Bangor University Archives and local record offices across Wales.


These estate archives contain a huge variety of record types: title deeds, settlements, wills, surveys, rentals, leases, accounts, correspondence, receipts, legal papers, architectural plans, enclosure documents and official commissions – sometimes stretching across centuries.  These records were produced as part of the acquisition, development and management of estates, and to ensure their transfer through inheritance.

Estate maps and surveys should not be considered in isolation from the corpuses of related records found within estate archives.  Analysed within this context, they provide vivid insights into how the owners of Welsh estates appropriated, fashioned and inscribed the landscape in ways which communicated their self-identity: their social, political, religious and economic values; their status, tastes, power and wealth.

These maps were often created as working documents, displayed and used in estate offices and country houses to assist with the management of a landed patrimony, providing the owners of estates and their agents with visual representations of the territory subject to their control.  Writing to Owen Meyrick of Bodorgan in 1725, the multi-talented Lewis Morris (1701-65) referred to his recently-completed survey of the Anglesey estate, boasting that ‘he can scarce believe that ever a gentleman hath such an insight of his estates as he is likely to have from these maps’.  The use of maps as tools of estate management can be seen in the additions that were often made to them over the years: pencil marks denoting boundary changes, sales, new tenants or references to other records held in the muniment room.

For centuries, ownership of land constituted a primary signifier of status and power in Welsh society.  The ability to retain control of this land, add to it and then pass it on to future generations of the same ‘blood and name’ framed the existence of those dynasties which dominated Welsh society up until the demise of estates in the early-20th century.  Together with records such as valuations and rentals, estate maps and surveys can provide indications of the territorial extent of an individual’s influence; and if part of a long chronological series of records, can show how a family acquired, expanded, consolidated, ‘improved’ or indeed lost their landed interest over a succession of generations.  The maps were often commissioned at points of change: at times of inheritance, purchase or sale, or indeed to provide blueprints for future works.  Estate maps were therefore fully bound up in a consciousness of dynastic pride and territoriality, expressed most assertively through the display of coats of arms and other heraldic symbols on the face of the document.

As well as giving an indication of the extent of an estate (or part therefore) these maps also provide valuable insights into how their owners moulded their dominions to enhance their wealth and to imprint their identities – their power and status – within the landscape.  It is no surprise that the plas or country house is usually the most prominent feature depicted on estate maps – reflecting its importance in the locality and its status as the primary architectural symbol of its owner’s influence over the surrounding community.  Indeed, detailed depictions of country houses are often included in the margins of estate maps.

In addition to the country house with its outbuildings, gardens and parklands, estate maps can also depict farms, fields, roads, woodlands, mills, churches, towns, walls, ponds, trees, boundaries, bridges, industrial sites such as mines and quarries and occasionally even livestock or hunting scenes.  All of these physical features were shaped by the priorities of the estate to which they belonged and served, in varying degrees, to inscribe certain values and concepts into the landscape.  Some estate owners invested significant money and energy in creating Designed Landscapes, or in schemes of ‘improvement’.  A printed map of the Hafod estate, produced to accompany George Cumberland’s Attempt to Describe Hafod (1796), gives some indication of Thomas Johnes’ (1748-1816) efforts to draw out the picturesque qualities of his landholdings, with numerous ‘walks’ and ‘viewing points’ marked out on the map.  All estate maps suggest ways in which estates contributed to place-making.

They also provide snapshots of the theatre on which the landholding elites of Wales developed and negotiated those all-important social and community relations – with tenants, neighbours, local-clergy, servants and employees – which underpinned their position in local society.  The names of tenants or tenements are occasionally inscribed on the maps or feature in adjoining documentation (often missing), sometimes with details of leases, rents and services.  The estate landscapes depicted by maps were lived in, with cottages and farms providing housing and the wider activities of the estate sustaining a range of work and employment.

In this sense the maps provide unique entry points for exploring that discourse between power, people and place which underpinned the creation of the symbolic landscapes and social structures talked about by Cosgrove.

Notwithstanding the excellent work of Bob Silvester, research into Welsh estate maps remains slight, despite the numerous insights they can provide into Wales’ landscape history.  At the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates, we hope to play our part in addressing this deficit over the coming years.

Further reading:

Sarah A. Bendall, Maps, Land and Society: A history, with a carto-bibliography, of Cambridgeshire estate maps, 1600-1836 (Cambridge, 1992)

Denis E. Cosgrove, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape (2nd edn., Madison, 1998)

P.D.A. Harvey, ‘English Estate Maps: Their early history and their use as historical evidence’, in David Buisseret (ed.), Rural Images: Estate Maps in the Old and New Worlds (Chicago, 1996), 27-61

Colin Thomas, ‘Estate Surveys as Sources in Historical Geography’, National Library of Wales Journal 14, 4 (December, 1966), 451-69

Hilary M. Thomas, A Catalogue of Glamorgan Estate Maps (Cardiff, 1992)

R.J. Silvester, Mapping Montgomeryshire: Estate maps from 1589 to 1840’, Montgomeryshire Collections 100 (2012), 149-80.

 

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