A number of historic maps exist for the parish, some manuscript and some printed. This page gives access to some of the principal maps that are of use in reconstructing the development of the landscape over the past three centuries or so.

The anonymous map of c 1700

An anonymous manuscript map of Norton, c 1700

This original of this map is preserved at Hertfordshire Archives and Library Service, County Hall, Hertford (number 19336). It was drawn on paper and has spent many years folded into quarters; the version reproduced here is taken from a photocopy in the archives of North Hertfordshire Museums Service that shows foxing in the creases of the folds. It has been dated variously to the seventeenth or early eighteenth centuries; the handwriting perhaps favours an earlier rather than later date.

It is unclear which way the map was designed to be orientated, as the captions labelling various features are written in whichever direction gave the best fit. The map shows the rough shape of the parish, although it is compressed from east to west (or elongated north to south). The area of the village is drawn at a much larger scale than the rest of the parish, pushing Harvest House, at the western end of Croft Lane much too close to Pix Brook (“the brook by þe common” on the map) and the Church too close to Nortonbury.

It is clear that the map was intended to show the layout of the village and to identify certain householders. The roads are shown only sketchily, while few placenames are given (including Wilbury bush, Reinolds hedge and Mosses corner). This map shows the arrangement of roads and properties in the village before the rearrangement carried out by the Enclosure Act of 1796.

Dury and Andrews’ map of 1766

Dury & Andrews’s map, 1766

The first printed map to show the layout of the village was published byAndrew Dury and John Andrews, first issued on 1 May 1766. It is part of a large-scale survey of the entire county of Hertfordshire at a scale of 1.95 inches to the mile (approximately 1:35,000). Its accuracy is much greater than that of the anonymous manuscript map and it gives an indication of topography, marks field boundaries and streams, and colour codes significant boundaries.

The field boundaries appear to be vastly simplified, while a close inspection of the detail raises the suspicion that much of that detail is invented or at best conventionalised. For instance, although the entire north side of Norton Road and Croft Lane is shown as occupied by buildings, earthwork evidence demonstrates that there never were buildings between 91 Norton Road and the junction with Croft Lane, as ridge-and-furrow runs right up to the hedgerow without interruptions.

Nevertheless, the roads appear to be represented accurately with, for instance, the kink in Norton Road to the west of Nortonbury rendered in the correct position and given the correct curvature.

Thomas Baskerfield’s manuscript map (c 1785)

Thomas Baskerfield’s map, c 1785 (© British Library)

Thomas Baskerfield (1751-1816) was a cartographer and topographical artist who lived in Essex (he may have been the owner of Greyfriars, Colchester, from 1814). His manuscript map of Norton, like many of his others, is held in the British Library (Add. MS 9063 f. 265) and measures some 220 × 170 mm. It is clear that his map was produced simply by copying Dury and Andrews’ map as its details are identical (including the spelling Litchworth for Letchworth). Instead, in making a copy, Baskerfield has introduced one or two additional errors.

It is therefore not an independent witness to the layout of the parish before Enclosure.

The Enclosure Map, 1796

The Enclosure Map of Norton, 1796 (from a photocopy held by North Hertfordshire Museums)

The Enclosure Map was surveyed at a much larger scale than the previous maps, with an accuracy that reflects its purpose: the redesign of the fields and roads of most of the parish. Work on the transformation began after the second award was made on 19 April 1798, the first award being set aside as it had made no provision for heriots (payments made following the transfer of properties). Although a right of way across Stapleton’s Field was maintained, the two tracks shown by Dury and Andrews did not survive and the land was divided between the estates of Robert Cleere Haselfoot to the north and John Pryor to the south, neither of them the principal landowner of the parish. The Haselfoot family had acquired interests in the parish in 1614, when Lewes Bowles defaulted on a mortgage for which the rectory was security. The Pryors were a Baldock family who bought extensive tracts in the parish piecemeal, becoming the principal landowner during the nineteenth century, although they did not live in Norton and their land was farmed by bailiffs.

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