Past Talks

Oxfordshire Maps

Date: 15th October 2007
Speaker: Nick Millea

The Meeting was held at St Edburg’s Church Hall, Bicester. Thirty seven members and three guests attended the Meeting. Bob introduced the speaker, Nick Mellea, Map Librarian at The Bodleian Library.

The Bodleian Library currently houses over 1,200,000 maps. There is a vast variety in the collection. Nick brought several examples for the meeting to see.

  • Russian Military Map of Oxford 1980
  • Drink Map of Oxford Pubs

There are a number of key questions relating to maps:

  • Why were the maps drawn?
  • For whom were the maps made?
  • What do the maps show?
  • What don’t the maps show?

Examples of Bicester Maps 1899 and 1881 (detailed and with written commentary) and a Woodstock Map 1833 were used to illustrate the above. Ordinance Survey Maps were first published in 1791.


Tithe Maps were derived from 1836. Church financed them from local agricultural output. Some 11800 manuscripts were made and are found at Kew, local parishes and Oxfordshire County Records Office. There is no tithe map of Bicester but many surrounding parishes have them.

Enclosure Maps were produced to facilitate the transfer from open fields to enclosed farmland. Enclosure Acts were passed through Parliament. It proved a boom time for surveyors. Enclosure manuscripts exist of Market End 1757 and Kings End 1793. They are to be found at the Oxfordshire Records Office and Westgate Library.

Estate Maps are usually associated with the large landowners and estates.

County Maps date from 1570 and are very collectable. They represent the best pre ordinance survey mapping. Good Oxfordshire maps include Davis (1773), Thomas Jeffries (1767), John Speed (1611) and Saxton (1574)

Miscellaneous Maps include ‘Tapestry Maps’ of Oxfordshire made in 1606. These are very colourful. The Gough Map (1360) provides the earliest route maps of Britain.

The meeting finished at 8:46pm following a question and answer session.