Have you ever had fun in a second-hand bookshop pouring over old maps? Oh, I never knew that house was so old! Or, look at the Manor House that was there before the flats were built! Well, part of the Heritage Project has been to research the oldest maps of Pyrford we could find in order to undertake a map regression and learn more about our heritage. You might well ask what has map regression got to do with heritage and in 25 words ChatGPT says:
Map regression combines mapping and statistics to assess heritage. Overlaying historical maps unveils spatial patterns, aiding in conservation. Essential for preserving cultural legacies, like Pyrford, Surrey.
To share an insight into this we illustrate 5 key maps and point out a number of interesting features that evidence our heritage.
Figure 1 – Pyrford c. 1640 Figure 2 – Pyrford – John Rocque – 1768
Firstly, we believe that Figure 1 shows an estate map from about 1640. This was probably produced to manage the lands held by Pyrford Place and is a remarkably accurate mapping of the area around Pyrford Village and Pyrford Green in a time when many maps were little more than sketches emphasising key landmarks and topographical features. It’s also interesting because it shows Pyrford bounded to the north by heathland and common land that was originally part of the kings hunting park north of Woking Palace. Even 200 years after Lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII, took ownership of the Palace the lands were still devoid of settlement.
By contrast the farmland immediately to the east of the heathland is clearly being farmed and the road and field patterns that exist today can easily be recognised: Randall’s Field, the Aviary Road Field can be seen as also can Pyrford Common Road, Church Hill, Warren Lane, Upshot Lane, Engliff Lane, Boltons Lane and Pyrford Road etc. Teggs Lane is marked as a major thoroughfare!!!!
One hundred years later John Rocque was mapping Surrey and Figure 2 shows an extract of the Pyrford Area. This is interesting because it very clearly shows the heathland and common land areas that extended over much of this side of Woking and were once part of the hunting park. The surrounding area clearly maps the field patterns of farmland in surprising detail. John Rocque was one of the first cartographers to show such detail and again Randall’s Field and the Aviary Road fields are recognisable as also is the local road system but the map still contains a strong degree of symbolism.
The origins of Ordnance Survey lie in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rising in 1745 because it was realised the army needed better maps than it had. However a determined start to completing the task didn’t happen until the late 1700s. The first map edition became available in the early 1800s but was quickly withdrawn in 1811 because of security fears! Full sets of large scale OS maps didn’t become generally available until 1860-1890 and the hiatus was filled by traditional cartographers with their more traditional maps. However the OS maps that emerged in 1860-90 laid the foundations for a continuous set of revisions right down to the present day.
Figure 3 shows a very early edition from 1872. What’s interesting about this is that both the ancient and the modern shape of Pyrford can be recognised in its hedgerows and roadways. Suddenly everything is to scale and symbolism is confined to legends for heathland and hedgerows etc. Another important point to note is that 80% of Pyrford, as we know it today, was farming land.
Figure 3 – Pyrford c. 1872
In 1872 the only concession to the industrial revolution in this part of Surrey was the railway in the upper left hand corner that arrived in 1838. Also of note is that The Old House and Wheelers Farm are named; reflecting their ancient heritage stretching back to the 12th century and the older listed properties are marked around Lees Farm, Pyrford Village and Pyrford Green indicating the origins of Pyrford as a medieval dispersed village. These features can be seen on older maps but not as clearlyand not so completely.
Figure 4 – Pyrford c. 1934
Figure 4 reflects the impact of the railway on suburbia. It shows how West Byfleet developed around the station and how house building started to extend down Old Woking Road and Pyrford Road. This 1934 edition is also one of the first to show the Aviary Road development and also the Pyrford Village Hall. However it also shows market gardens and farms still clinging on between Coldharbour Road, and Pyrford Road. Finally, note that much of Woking Heath and Pyrford Common is still undeveloped.
Finally, Figure 5 brings us pretty much up to date. It shows that all the market gardens have gone and been built on. The farms are now pretty much defunct, except for that around Lady Place Farm on the nose of the escarpment stretching from the edge of Pyrford Common down to Warren Lane.
Figure 5 – Pyrford c. 1992
In conclusion, the use of map regression in assessing heritage in places like Pyrford provides a broad understanding of the interplay between the people, the land, nature and the cultural heritage.
This empowers us as stakeholders to make informed decisions, propose targeted conservation strategies, and actively participate in preserving the historical and cultural legacy of our community. As heritage conservation becomes an increasingly pressing concern, map regression stands as a valuable tool to navigate the complexities of managing and preserving our shared cultural and historical heritage.
The great majority of Forum members and residents love living in Pyrford because of its semi-rural character and strong links with the past. This is typified by the nose of the Pyrford Escarpment as it dips down around Pyrford Village and on to the River Wey that is shown largely unchanged over the period of these five maps. It’s worth reflecting therefore that in addition to all the built heritage in the area the landscape heritage is no less important and together these two characteristics, and the nature, make Pyrford such a desirable place to live. We should remember we are in grave danger of losing this heritage if we ever allow development on the last piece of farming land around Pyrford Village.- land which is demonstrably unchanged in over 400 years.
We do hope you’ve found this interesting and if you’d like to see bigger versions of the map illustrations and other output from the PNF Heritage Conservation Assessment project then click here and go to the Forum website.
G Geaves – for the Heritage Conservation Assessment Project Team
12 Jan 2024.