Bourne Archive: Bourne Abbots: Map              Latest edit 5 Apr 2011.

Text, page and reproduction of pictures ©R.J.PENHEY 2007.


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The Bourne Abbots Estate Map of 1825


Bourne Abbey was a small house of Arrouaisian canons, founded in 1138 and dissolved in 1536. At the time of its foundation, the land holdings in the parish of Bourne were reorganized. By this time the ownership pattern found in the Domesday Book of 1086 seems to have been consolidated into the hands of Baldwin fitz Gilbert de Clare. In the political and social atmosphere engendered by the argument between Stephen of Blois and the Empress Matilda, Baldwin sought to protect and establish himself by building a castle and founding an abbey at Bourne. It is perhaps surprising that in these circumstances, in a period which has come to be called ‘The Anarchy’ something like town planning should have been the result. But this is when the western half of the town, the present town-centre began its development.

The property holding was divided into the manors of Bourne, pertaining to the castle and of Bourne Abbots which went with the Abbey. The old township on the fen edge became that associated more particularly with Bourne Abbots while the centre of the town as recognizable today was the new town outside the castle gate. This seems to have been deliberately developed, particularly in the late thirteenth century. Until the twentieth century, the two were still physically separate; a separation demarcated more sharply when the railway to Sleaford was run through the gap in 1870-71. But this was also the beginning of the infill. Shortly afterwards, the Elementary School was built alongside the railway to serve both communities and other development followed.

In the 1820s, forty or fifty years before this closure began; maps were made of each of the estates. The Bourne manor one was divided among the pages of a book dealing with the Bourne and Morton part of the much larger, Exeter Estate. The Bourne Abbots map was drawn up on a single large sheet, representing most of the Parish of Bourne and showing which parts of it belonged to the trustees who were the successors of Eleanor Pochin as owner of the Bourne Abbots manor. The map came into the hands of the firm of solicitors, Andrews, Stanton and Ringrose, and J.D.Birkbeck (p. 68 footnote 2) reports that in 1970, when he was writing, it belonged to Mr. H.M.A. Stanton. It is now in private ownership. The owner has given permission for reproduction on this site but there are practical difficulties which mean that the process may be slow. The map has spent a minimum of several decades loosely rolled up and on top of one cupboard or another, so the skin is far from flat, though it is now improving. The ink too, is rather faded so that its writing has to be reproduced on a rather large scale to be legible. The detail below is offered as a sample of the information it holds. This is from an inset covering the town as opposed to the wider parish. As it appears on my screen, it is enlarged in the ratio 219:131, approximately, 10:6. In other words, what appears here as 219mm is 131mm on the map. The detail extends from Austerby in the south-west to Spalding Road in the north-east and the northernmost of the fords was at National grid reference TF 1019 1995. One of the joins between the skins is visible in the photograph.

The similarities between this and the Exeter Estate maps are compounded when they are compared with Fowler’s plan of Bourne Castle, which seems to have been derived from a map of the Parker Estate, centred on Morton. One might guess that the similarity in the presentation of details would be best explained by their having been derived from the commissioners’ enclosure award maps produced as a result of the 1766 Bourne Enclosure Act. However, sight of the latter raises doubt. The estate maps are much more similar to each other than they are to the commissioners’ map. Possibly, the landowners clubbed together to pay for the survey. If so, the fact that the three maps corroborate each other in matters such as the layout of Bourne castle is not confirmation of accuracy in their representation of geographical details there, as they were in 1825, especially where these details lay within an ownership plot, so that they were unimportant in respect of claim to the land.

Loading a detail of Eastgate, Bourne from the 1825 Bourne Abbots Estate map. 
These big pictures take a few seconds to load and  tend  to scroll jerkily: sorry :)Whereas the Exeter Estate map of Bourne is on paper and drawn in sections so as to be bound into a book, the Bourne Abbots map is on one sheet, composed of four skins, backed by scrim and extending to 1140 x 1568 mm. It covers the whole area of the parish except most of the wood (adjoining the Edenham boundary) and the South Fen Pastures (adjoining Northorpe Fen in Thurlby parish). Parts of the Bourne Abbots map have been reproduced by pricking through to another. The fair copy of the Exeter maps has been made by a better draughtsman and penman than those of the Bourne Abbots map but this may be partially accounted for by the difference in the surface used.

In the figure, the grey/green is land of Mrs. Eleanor Pochin’s successors in Bourne Abbots estate. She had died in 1823. The barely distinguishable pink is land copyhold of the manor of Bourne Abbots. Brown is roads and blue, water. The diagonally hatched shapes are dwelling houses and the stippled shapes are outbuildings such as a mill, stables and workshops.

Names mentioned are George Bailey, John Chamberlain, Alexander Eadon, Marquess of Exeter, Thomas Hales, John Ley Row, John [Presgrave], Edward Sharpe, Thomas Shipley, Henry Thistleton, William Thistleton and Edward Wherry.



Samples from the map, covering the map key, the castle site (I), the abbey site (I), Eastgate (I), Bedehouse Bank, Cawthorpe, Dyke, the East Field and the West Field may be seen on their respective web pages. (I) indicates that the sample is taken from the enlarged inset of the town part of the parish.



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