Historic 1834 Map of Sherborne Finds New Home

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A sprawling map of Sherborne, meticulously illustrated and dating back to 1834, has found a new home at the Dorset History Centre, thanks to the generous donation by law firm Porter Dodson.

Staff at Dorset History Centre with the 1834 Percy map of Sherborne

This parchment map, spanning 2m by 1.3m, has long been a centerpiece in the company’s boardroom. However, due to the difficulties of fitting such a large piece into their new office location, it became necessary to find the map a new home.

Thomas Percy, a well-respected cartographer of his time, was commissioned to create the map by the Sherborne Castle’s Wingfield-Digby family. Remarkably, only two copies of this detailed masterpiece were ever produced.

The map’s level of detail is extraordinary, featuring a colour-coded layout of Sherborne town and the surrounding rural areas. Residential houses are marked in pink, churches in black, industrial structures in grey, arable land in yellow-brown, and pastures in green. Nearly two centuries on, the quality of the workmanship is still prominently evident.

Section of the 1834 map of Sherborne

Every plot on the map has been numbered, and a corresponding ‘terrier’ or reference book contains information about the plot owners and land use. The map stands as an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in Sherborne’s history, exemplifying early 19th-century cartography at its finest.

Now safely ensconced at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester, the county’s archival service, the map will undergo careful conservation and digitisation.

Cllr Laura Beddow, Portfolio Holder for culture and communities, expressed her gratitude for the donation, stating: “We are extremely grateful to Porter Dodson for this generous gift and are delighted to be adding such a fantastic item to the public collection.”

Echoing the sentiment, Scott Bowley, Partner at Porter Dodson Solicitors, said: “We are extremely happy to gift the map knowing it will be preserved and enjoyed by the public at large for generations to come. Porter Dodson solicitors can trace its roots in Melmoth House back to 1899 and so Sherborne and its history is so important.”

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