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Maps and plans

What records can I find at my North East Wales Archive branch?

Estate/Private Maps

The Ruthin branch holds very few full manuscript estate maps, however there are some notable examples in estate collections held at Hawarden branch. Map collections are particularly impressive amongst the Hawarden Estate collection (278 maps and plans); Grosvenor (Halkyn) estate (91 estate maps); Soughton Hall Estate (65 estate maps and plans) and Plas Gwyn Estate (35 estate maps and plans).

Early Printed Maps

Hawarden branch hold a printed historic map collection dating back to 1577 (ref: PM/). These include rare early maps of the counties of Flintshire and Denbighshire, other Counties and of North Wales, incorporating early marine and road maps. The collection contains original versions of Christopher Saxton’s map of the County of Flint (c.1607) and John Speed’s maps of the County of Denbigh and the County of Flint (1610).

Tithe Maps

Tithe maps are the earliest series of maps we hold.

Tithes were payments made for the support of the parish church and its clergy. Originally these payments were made in kind (crops, wool, milk, young stock, etc.) and usually represented a tenth (tithe) of the yearly production of cultivation or stock rearing. Tithe maps were produced between 1838 and 1850 following the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 as a part of the process to ensure that all tithes were paid with money rather than produce. You can find out more about tithes using the National Archives research guide.

Tithe maps are the most detailed maps for this period. The tithe apportionment, the written accompaniment to the map, details land owners, tenants, property or field names, acreage of land and land use.

We hold tithe maps and apportionments for most parishes. These records are part of parish collections which were deposited by the Church in Wales. Copy tithe maps are available to view in the search-rooms and apportionments are available to view on microfilm. The originals are not normally issued except in very exceptional cases.

The National Library of Wales has digitised the Welsh tithe maps with accompanying apportionments and these are available online for free. A tithe map layer is available to view online via our map viewer (please note online apportionment records are not available on our website, for this you will need to use the places.library.wales website).

Ordnance Survey Maps

Although the first Ordnance Survey map was published in 1801, it was many years before it had produced detailed maps of the whole country. For many places in North East Wales, the oldest large-scale Ordnance Survey map dates from 1870s or 1880s. Many different editions of Ordnance Survey maps have been produced since then.

We hold published OS maps for the area. These are available on request in the search-room. Alternatively you can view OS maps online on the People’s Collection Wales website or National Library of Scotland website. We hold very few Ordnance survey books of reference.

Enclosure Maps

Enclosure of land began as early as medieval times, when large areas of land which had previously been farmed communally (common land) began to be enclosed into smaller parcels, to be farmed by one landowner only. Many early enclosures came about by local agreement or because individual landowners decreed it and few records remain of early enclosures.

From 1801, Public General Enclosure Acts were passed. The General Enclosure Act of 1845 appointed permanent Enclosure Commissioners to issue Enclosure Awards. Most Enclosure records which survive are from this period.

Enclosure awards recite the Act of Parliament which has been made, and then list the names of the commissioners; the name of the owner of the land to be enclosed; a description of the land to be enclosed; a list of the allotments of land to be made, and to whom they are to be allotted. They are usually accompanied by a plan. Copies of enclosure awards have sometimes been deposited with parish records.

You can find out more about enclosures using the National Archives research guide.

North East Wales Archives holds enclosure awards in the Denbighshire Quarter Session records (QSD/DE) and Flintshire Quarter Session records (QS/DE). These records have been scanned and digital images are available Denbighshire’s maps and awards for free here. We are hoping to add Flintshire’s enclosure maps soon.

What language were the records written in?

Tithe apportionments and enclosure awards are in English. It is our policy to catalogue records in the language they were originally written.

How can I access these records?

The only digital images of these records available online are the Enclosure Awards and Plans for Denbighshire areas. Original enclosure maps and awards are not available to view in the search-rooms except in very exceptional cases. Hawarden has the Flintshire Enclosure Awards and Plans digitised and available on search-room computers but not online as yet

You can view copy tithe maps and OS maps in our search-rooms. You can also view the second edition OS map and tithe map on our website here.

Click here to find out more about how to use the online map viewer.

If you want to view OS maps, book a search-room place with a large table.

If you want to view tithe maps and accompanying apportionments, book a search-room place with a large table and a microfilm reader.

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

There are generally three copies of all tithe maps. One copy was held by the local church and has now been transferred to us, one was provided to the Tithe Commissioners, which are now held at The National Archives and one was made for the diocesan registry now held at the National Library of Wales. The National Library have made the maps and apportionments for the whole of Wales available online.