Exploring Historical Maps

It is gradually getting easier to find old maps, or rather current maps with historical details, online. Two areas of interest to me have recently come my way, and are reasonably new. Not forgetting some pointers on using the 1851 England boundary maps available on FamilySearch.

Historical Maps of Norfolk

Norfolk County Council has a historic maps section to its website. With the interactive map explorer you can view historical maps alongside historical aerial survey data and modern day Ordnance Survey maps. Plus there are some historical maps to view, drawn from those held at their Archive Centre,  including those of Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Thetford and Kings Lynn.

Old maps of Southwark

The London Borough of Southwark has online material similar to that of Norfolk. This was reported on The Guardian’s Government Computing Network in February, which quotes the council’s GIS manager:

“They provide an interesting resource for local residents researching their family tree. Let’s say you suspected that a great-grandfather was born on Old Kent Road but maybe that place has now been turned into a large industrial estate. If you went on to an old map and you’ve zoomed into that area, well, you could see the building that one of your ancestors came from. It’s not making anyone any money, but if that helps someone doing family research, then I see that as useful,” he says.

As well as Ordnance Survey maps from1896 to 1954, there are scanned images of sixteen maps ranging from 1572 to 1899 of various parts of the borough. This includes Rotherhithe, of particular interest to the Beasor family.

Parish boundary maps across England

This month’s Who Do You Think You Are magazine has a feature on using FamilySearch.org Written by an employee of the organisation that runs the site, it is more promo than critical insight, but one of the few useful nuggets for me was a reminder of the maps section, and some useful pointers to its use. The section is titled ‘England Jurisdictions 1851’, and the starting point is to search for a parish or locality.This produces a list to choose from, even if only one. Select and the Google Map will zoom in and load some overlay data. Go to the Layers tab (next to Search) to change what boundaries you can see. There is also an Ordnance Survey option on the map controls, which will bring up an 1851 OS.


Further online historical maps info is  being compiled on the Cutlock & Co Research section – now on its own Newspaper, maps and images page.

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