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The Ham History Project: Maps

This is one of the oldest detailed maps that we have found. It’s from the 1771 Andrews’ and Dury’s map of Wiltshire and updated in 1810. The broken lines indicate the parish boundary at that time which are still the same today.

In 1801 the population was 188 compared to c152 today albeit there are far fewer houses shown.They must have had a much higher occupancy in those days!

Detail from Andrews’ & Drury map of Wiltshire 1810
© Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

  This detail is from the Ordnance Survey map of 1877 and shows the 4 Ham farms in operation then: Dove’s Farm, East Court Farm, Copyhold Farm and Manor Farm.
© Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
  This atlas was first published as a whole in 1579. It consists of 35 coloured maps depicting the counties of England and Wales. The atlas is of great significance to British cartography as it set a standard of cartographic representation in Britain and the maps remained the basis for English county mapping, with few exceptions, until after 1750.

During the reign of Elizabeth I map use became more common, with many government matters referring to increasingly accurate maps with consistent scales and symbols, made possible by advances in surveying techniques. Illustrating the increasing used of maps in government matters, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State, who had been determined to have England and Wales mapped in detail from the 1550s, selected the cartographer Christopher Saxton to produce a detailed and consistent survey of the country.The financier of the project was Thomas Seckford
  Master of Requests at the Court of Elizabeth I, whose arms appear, along with the royal crest, on each map. Saxton’s name appears in the decorative scale bar as does the name of the engraver of this map, Remigius Hogenberg ,one of seven English and Flemish engravers employed to produce the copper plates for the atlas.

Relief, in the form of uniform rounded representations of hills, is the main topographical feature presented in the maps. Rather than provide a scientific representation of relative relief these give a general impression of the lie of the land. Settlements and notable buildings are also recorded pictorially; a small building with a spire represents a village, while more important towns are indicated by groups of buildings. Here Stonehenge is marked by a pictorial representation and named ‘The Stonadge’.
  This is the description of Wiltshire accompanying the map of the county in Pieter Van den Keere's miniature County Atlas of the British Isles, dating from c.1605-10.

Van den Keere was a refugee who came to England, with his sister, to escape religious persecution in the Low Countries between 1570-1590.

After their arrival Van den Keere's sister married the map maker Jodocus Hondius, a fellow refugee, and it is likely that it was from his brother in law that Van den Keere then learnt cartography and engraving.

This atlas contains maps of the English and Welsh counties, the regions of Scotland and the Irish provinces.

The maps of England and Wales were based on those of Christopher Saxton who had published an atlas in 1579.

The Scottish maps were based on those of Abraham Ortelius and the Irish on a map by Baptista Boazio.
Carey’s New Map of England and Wales 1794   Hobson’s Fox Hunting Atlas 1850   Ham Hill’s White Horse

  In Hobson’s Fox Hunting Atlas of 1850, by John & Charles Walker and published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, plate 38 indicates an underlined blob and word - Ham Ashley - which suggests there was a known hunt up the road on the left before the Buttermere turning. Also mentioned are Bedwin Broil, Steype, Chisbury and Froxfield. Wilts, South, (Mr. F.Wyndham’s) page 38 is shown in the index but on the actual map, Ham is shown in the ‘Craven’.   John and Charles Walker were engravers and publishers, and were responsible for several atlases, including those published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. In 1837 they produced the 42 county maps on which this work is based.There were traditionally 42 English counties. Hobson used maps printed from the Walkers' lithographic plates, and added features relevant to fox-hunting: the territory of each hunt is outlined in watercolour, and the places of meets are indicated by black spots.  

This OS map makes me smile. It shows the white horse that was cut in to the ground high up Ham Hill so that Mr Wright of Hamspray House had something special to look at.


The cartographer took care to depict the horse upsidedown as that was how it would have been seen from Hamspray.


Dated between 1860-1877. Subsequent landowners did not maintain it.


“On the green stands a far-from regulation cast iron signpost, emblazoned with the letters RDC (which therefore dates it to the period 1894-1929, when rural districts were responsible for minor roads). Long may it continue to perform its humble but useful task of locating Ham among its peaceful neighbours.”


© John Chandler, Marlborough and Eastern Wiltshire 2001