The Lost 'Chiswick Enclosure Map' Has Been Found

Research into Glebe Street pavements led to ancient map being located


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The lost Chiswick Enclosure Map of 1840, which marks the beginning of the area's development from semi -rural to commuter suburb, has been found, thanks to research by local journalist and writer Tracey Logan.

And the discovery of the map, which had been missing since at least the 1950s and perhaps a century longer, came about because of Tracey's involvement in a project to prove that her street in the Glebe Estate was of "heritage value" which would protect it from a Hounslow Highways plan to tarmac the pavements.

She recounts; "I took on the job of compiling a summary of the Glebe's heritage in hopes of persuading LBH to give us pavements not asphalt. I wanted to know the basic dimensions of the Glebe Estate and couldn't find the detail in Chiswick Local Studies Library, but realised the Chiswick enclosure act would provide that detail if it could be found."

Thus began a trawl through the London Metropolitan Archives, Lambeth Palace Archives, Parliamentary Archives, and Chatsworth House archives until she had almost given up hope of finding the map.

Happily for Tracey, there was a moment of revelation. "One day, thanks to the help of the Church of England Records Centre's brilliant archivist Krzysztof Adamiec and his team, I opened a folder and there it was - not the whole map, just the bit covering the vicinity of the Glebe Estate and neighbouring lands owned by the Duke of Devonshire and others,  north of Chiswick House."

The portion of the map discovered by Tracey reveals exact details of an early 19th-century land swap between the Vicar of Chiswick and the Duke of Devonshire, allowing Burlington Lane to be re-routed southwards away from Chiswick House.

As part of the land swap, the Vicar gave the Duke four acres of his land in front of Chiswick House in exchange for just over eight acres next to an existing Glebe field, beside what is now Devonshire Road (formerly Chiswick Field Lane). This gave the Duke of Devonshire more privacy from passing traffic on Burlington lane (and a rather nice dog walk in front of Chiswick House today). Significantly for the Vicar, it almost doubled the size of his market gardens beside Chiswick Field Lane on which, in the 1870s, was built the Glebe Estate.

Interestingly, the map also marks out pavements along what is now Duke’s Avenue, perhaps in readiness for subsequent development. It also shows what appears to be a now forgotten eastern, gated approach to Chiswick House and gardens and the (then) Royal Horticultural Society’s land, on what is now the stretch of A4 between Hogarth’s House and Duke’s Avenue but was then a single track road.

With the help of local Architectural Historian Dr Sally Jeffery, Tracey contacted the London Topographical Society to see whether they would consider publishing her map, and they agreed. Editors Dr Bridget Cherry and Dr Ann Saunders pointed her towards the British Library's famous Head of Maps, Peter Barber, who showed her how to find out more about it and suggested contacting Prof Roger Kain, author of the encyclopaedic 'The Enclosure Maps of England and Wales, 1595 - 1918' for a few pointers.

And it was publication (on July 6th) of the copied portion of the map, focusing on land developed for the Glebe Estate and Duke’s Avenue, that then prompted a search for the entire map. Archivists at Chatsworth House, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, have now located that map and are now preparing it , with its accompanying notes (the Award of the Commissioners of the 1814 Enclosure Act), to become fully available for study by scholars.

Copies of Tracey Logan’s article in the London Topographical Society Record, containing a copy of the map, have been lodged with Chiswick Local Studies Library and also with the Archives of St Nicholas Church. It is hoped that a copy of the complete Chiswick Enclosure Map may be available in Chiswick Local Studies Library later this year.

"What started out as just the discovery of a long lost map that's a key part of Chiswick's history turned into something of a love affair with its fine detail and the clues to Chiswick's lost 19th century world on the cusp of turning from semi-rural idyll into a commuter suburb. It was especially pleasing to read in Tate and Turner's 'A Domesday of English Enclosure Maps and Awards' that the Chiswick enclosure map and award were suspected of  never even have existed. Now my discovery proves the Chiswick enclosure map and award did exist and, importantly, shows what it looked like, which is a great help to scholars."

Today, along with her day job as a BBC Radio Science Reporter, Tracey is a  Masters student at the University of London's Institute of Historical Research and currently scoping out a dissertation on the Glebe Estate. She is hoping local residents might help her with this, starting in the autumn, by letting her look at their original leases.  

"Strange that it all started with a really annoying e-mail from Hounslow Highways threatening to tarmac our pavements! "

The map and Tracey's analysis can also be found in the 2015 edition of the London Topographical Society Record.* The London Topographical Society is a registered charity founded in 1880. It concentrates on publishing books and sheet material illustrating the history, growth and topography of London of all periods.

* T. Logan, ‘A new discovery, a portion of the lost Chiswick Enclosure Map’, London Topographical Society Record (2015), Vol. XXXI.

July 15, 2015

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