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Estate Maps

Estate maps and surveys are a useful source of information for local and community historians, particularly in cases where they pre-date tithe and enclosure maps, or detail land use and occupation not recorded in other sources.

Why were they produced?

Estate maps were commsiioned by landowners and their agents for a variety of purposes - to show the extent of property owned by the landlord or held by tenants; to show newly acquired land and property; to illustrate the effect of proposed ‘improvements’, such as building work or landscaping; for agricultural purposes, such as indicating cropping rotations. These maps can show the whole estate or represent small portions of it, varying in quality and content from simple sketch maps to highly skilled cartography. Geographical features, such as ponds and plantations may be included, and buildings often indicated, sometimes along with the name of the tenant. Compass points and scales are often included, which can help to identify locations.

Using estate maps for research

Some maps have reference numbers marked alongside plots of land and properties, indicating that there was originally an accompanying survey (usually a separate document). If such a survey or valuation survives, they can be a useful document for establishing further information about land use, properties and their inhabitants. Surveys will often contain a brief description of the property, name of the tenant, amount of rent paid and the acreage of the plot. As these were working documents, there are sometimes annotations made at a later date to record changes of use or tenant. Valuations include additional information on the annual value of the property.

Although there are some earlier examples, most estate maps date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of these maps record the date they were drawn up, but this is not always the case.

What we hold

Estate records of local landed families, where they have been deposited, are held at Staffordshire Record Office. Records of former episcopal and prebendal estates and of the estates of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield formerly held at Lichfield Record Office are now at Staffordshire Record Office.

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