Maps and views blog

19 July 2010

Parish Maps

The Parish Maps project is a really wonderful idea, and I agree with Jack Kirby (comment 7th May) that in concept and appearance the King's Cross map currently on display in the British Library has a lot in common with many parish maps produced by local communities around Great Britain.

What better vessel than a map to reflect what you hold dear about your specific part of the world, its history, its future, its appearance? And displayed at the hearts of these communities. I'd argue that such maps represent the democratisation of mapmaking - 'everyone a mapmaker' - better than any digital map resource.

Also, the fact that many of these parish maps are tapestries and embroideries reminds us of the origin of maps (the word 'map' deriving from the word 'cloth').

What I really like about the King's Cross map is the contrast between the 16 adjoining sections abutting each other - in both their styles and their priorities. I like contrasts, and the complete map gives a really telling, visual patchwork effect, as well as underlining the necessary yet superficial nature of imposed boundaries. Do come and see it if you can.

One wonders what an entire 'parish' map of Britain or another country would look like - a map consisting entirely of local maps, each made by the people living in those localities. That would give us a fresh insight into how much maps can reflect reality.

Comments

For the Millenium West Sussex County Council invited the villages and communities of the county to get together and organise and contribute such maps as described here of their locality. Those that responded were put together in one volume which I believe is still for sale through Chichester Library or County Archivist. Really interesting in terms of variety, how communities see themselves as well as the history of community development.
Community planning consultation in recent years have invited local residents of all ages and backgrounds to get involved with putting together scale models on maps depicting the ideas they have for the places where they live.

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