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Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service

What are Tithe and Inclosure Maps?

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw the formation of most of the English landscape as we see it today.  The main sources of information for these changes are maps documenting the details of inclosure in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and the mid 19th century assessment of holdings during the survey of the Tithe Commissioners.  The Tithe Survey represented the first systematic mapping survey that covered most of England and Wales.  This website also includes some estate maps where they have been digitised. 

Inclosure maps

Detail from Badsey Inclosure map 1812These maps and awards originated as a result of Parliamentary Acts of Inclosure, particularly those undertaken from the 18th century onwards. Maps were not a required part of the inclosure process until 1801 so not all inclosure acts have maps.

The Acts set out procedures where, for example, medieval open fields were enclosed into newly laid out field parcels. They also made provision for new roads which provided access to fields and documented who was responsible for boundaries. In many cases Tithe payments were abandoned at this stage in favour of compensation to the Tithe-owner.

Image inset above: Detail from Badsey Inclosure map 1812   

Where there is a Nineteenth century Inclosure map for a parish, there is usually not a Tithe map.  This is the case for much of the south-east of Worcestershire.  

Inclosure maps are generally the proposed layout of the fields and may not be what actually happened when the land was finally inclosed. 

Tithe Maps and Apportionment Documents

Detail of the Ombersley Tithe from 1838These maps form part of the process undertaken by the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836. Link to external website Access the Tithe Commutation Act. Most of the maps were completed in the 1840s.

Image inset right: Detail of the Ombersley Tithe from 1838

The main task of this act, and the commissioners appointed as a result, was the replacement of Tithe payment in kind, with a system which calculated a monetary value for individual parcels or apportionments of land. To achieve this the land of each parish had to be surveyed in order to establish the titheable value.

Dodderhill tithe apportionment document 1843 The Tithe Apportionment document gives information about the land owner, the tenant, the name or description of the land, the land use and the rent paid for every piece of land in the parish.

These documents are often stitched to the map and kept rolled up with the map, making them quite difficult to use.  

An Explanation of Tithes

Tithes were paid as one tenth part of all produce from a particular piece of land. They date back as far as the Eighth century and continued up until the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries.  The Tithe Commutation Act, passed in 1836 in order to stop disputes over payment of Tithes, substituted the payment in kind with a financial value based on a seven year average of the price of crops (wheat, barley and oats).

Tithe payments were made to the tithe-owner(s), which was often the Church, although lords of manors were also included. After the Reformation land previously in the possession of the Church, and the tithes due on it, was granted to lay owners, called Improprietors.

Local Agents, working for the Tithe Commissioners, surveyed the parish and produced three copies of each map, one for the diocesan registry, one for the parish and the Commissioner's copy. Not every parish has a tithe map.  
Where the tithes were commuted as part of an earlier Inclosure Act there is no tithe map.  

Worcestershire Record Office holds surviving parish and diocesan copies and the Tithe Commissioners' copies are held at The National Archives in Kew.  

Further information about the Tithe Survey (and many other subjects) can be found on the National Archives website. Link to external website Access the National Archives website, in the research section where a Tithes Research Guide is available. Link to external website Access the research section.

Estate Maps

Where there is no tithe or inclosure map, or where local groups have included these in the projects we have undertaken on their behalf, these are included on the website.  These maps do not usually cover a whole parish, although they might, and they may only contain the information that the person who commissioned them wanted to show.  Information recorded in any documentation, when the map was drawn, is joined to the GIS map but the type of information recorded with each map may not be consistent across all estate maps, for example not all maps record tenant names or field names for all fields shown on the map. 

Further Information

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This page was last reviewed 8 November 2013 at 16:50.
The page is next due for review 7 May 2015.