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“[These maps] are something that any serious researcher with an interest in these parishes should put on their shopping list.” Devon Family Historian, August 2021

This page presents some extracts from maps in the Devon in 1840 series. They illustrate the style of the cartography and the amount of detail shown on the maps.

Extract 1: Bishop’s Tawton

The first example is a small extract from the map of the country around Barnstaple, which is published on sheet 5. It shows the village of Bishop’s Tawton, about two miles south of Barnstaple. The scale of the paper map is four inches to one mile, but the scale of this image will be a little larger or smaller because it depends on your screen. If you are using a phone, the image will not all fit in your screen at once but you should be able to move it left and right.

Bishop's Tawton map
Extract from A Map of Barnstaple in 1840. You can scroll this image left and right if it doesn’t all fit in your screen. More about this map.

The information shown in this extract has been obtained mainly from the tithe maps of Bishop’s Tawton parish and Tawstock parish, both dated 1842, and from associated documents. The boundary between these two parishes followed the River Taw (except for a few wrinkles) and it is shown on the map by the magenta-coloured line along the river. The flood plain of the Taw was used for pasture and this is shown by the light green colouring, but on slightly higher ground there were several meadows, used for making hay, and they are coloured yellow.

Notice the many orchards around Bishop’s Tawton village, shown with green stipple. Some of these orchards would have grown the variety of sweet cherries known as mazzards, a speciality of this part of Devon. The orange-coloured road through the village was a turnpike road, or toll road, operated by Barnstaple Turnpike Trust. Overlooking the village on the west side of the valley was a grand house, Tawstock Court, at that time the home of Sir Bourchier Palk Wrey, and the violet colouring on the map indicates the extensive park in which the mansion was set.

“Who doesn’t love a good map – and this is certainly one! … This map is a pleasure to both use and peruse, the quality of the paper is good, the colours are simple and clear and the names and symbols are easily read. … A huge amount of detail is packed in and it is not possible to list it all. This, and no doubt the whole series, will be of immense value to the researcher, combining as it does so much information, and of great delight to all those with more than a passing interest in the area.” DA News: The Magazine of the Devonshire Association, Spring 2021, review of A Map of Barnstaple in 1840

Extract 2: Mockham Down

The next map shows a more remote piece of countryside, in the upper valley of the River Bray in the foothills of Exmoor. This example is taken from sheet 6 which covers the North Molton region. Several different tithe maps contributed to the information shown here, including those of Bratton Fleming, Charles, High Bray and Stoke Rivers parishes, all dating from around 1840. The parish boundaries correspond to the edges of the original maps, and the extract demonstrates how seamlessly these different sources have been combined.

Mockham Down map
Extract from A Map of North Molton in 1840. You can scroll this image left and right if it doesn’t all fit into your screen. More about this map.

A unique and interesting feature of the Devon in 1840 map series is the inclusion of a large number of field-names. The two extracts above illustrate how field-names are shown on the four-inch scale maps. A few abbreviations are used so that the names fit into the fields without being too small to read. (It should be said that the clarity of the names is better on the printed maps than in these screen images.) For example, Great Meadow is shown as ‘Gt Mdw’, Rabbits Close as ‘Rabbits C’, and so on. Not every field-name is shown, but the more interesting and unusual ones have been included wherever space on the map allows.

Extract 3: Bideford

The third extract is a small part of the map of Bideford on sheet 8. This is one of the detailed town maps, showing this historic port as it was in 1842. The scale on paper is 25 inches to one mile. At this larger scale, it is possible to show buildings individually, instead of merging and simplifying them, and street-names can be shown.

Bideford map
Extract from A Map of Bideford in 1840. You can scroll this image left and right if it doesn’t all fit into your screen. More about this map.

Each sheet in the Devon in 1840 series includes some large-scale maps of selected places within the area it covers. Usually, this means the main town in the area (if there is one) and up to three villages. For example, sheet 8 has larger-scale maps of Appledore and Northam as well as Bideford. The Shop page has a list of all the towns and villages that are mapped in detail.

Extract 4: Braunton

The next map is an extract from another of the large-scale town and village maps. This one is of Braunton in 1840. The scale is about 16 inches to one mile – a smaller scale than the map of Bideford shown above, but still large enough to show details of individual buildings. A particular point of interest of this map is that its coverage extends well beyond the village itself to include the whole of the historic Braunton Great Field, showing the hundreds of strips into which the field was divided at that time.

Braunton map
Extract from A Map of Braunton in 1840. You can scroll this image left and right if it doesn’t all fit into your screen. More about this map.

“As a geographer and someone with family attachments to Braunton … it has been a delight to see this map, which is beautifully produced. Earlier this year Tim Robinson, the incomparable cartographer and topographer of the Aran Islands, the Burren and Connemara, died, and I feel that Martin Ebdon’s maps although very different, are equally attractive and beguiling, and I could think of no greater compliment to pay.” The Devon Historian, 2020, review of A Map of Braunton in 1840

Some more information about the maps is available in the Resources area.