Full description of a fine map of Oakham of 1787 and transcript of accompanying field books. Discussion of the layout of the town, its inhabitants, topography, buildings, roads, fields. Assessment of how the map (the earliest known for Oakham) reveals likely features of the early medieval town. Transcript of Oakham's entry in the Universal British Directory of 1791. Full index. 104pp, paperback, colour illustrations. ISBN 978 0907464 55 6.
A crumpled document found many years ago in a cupboard at Burley on the Hill turned out to be a very fine map of the manor of Oakham Lordshold, drawn by William Cullingworth in 1787. Indeed, it gives the earliest detailed plan of Oakham known so far. Not only that, but a series of four field survey books in the Finch family archives, deposited like the map in the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland, were found to belong with it because they list all the occupiers of the Lordshold properties at that date, as well as information about changes of tenant over the new few years.
These documents are important because they reveal so much about the appearance and layout of the town of Oakham – even though they cover just one of the town’s two manors – before enclosure of the parish took place in the early part of the nineteenth century. The field books in particular contain much information about the inhabitants of the town, where they lived, what type of property they occupied and how extensive it was, including houses, yards and outbuildings as well as closes and land in the then open fields.
The book draws together all these details, ranging from the layout of the roads and watercourses to an identification of tenants, tradesmen and others who are mentioned both in the field books and in the Universal British Directory of 1791. The field books are transcribed in full, with an index.
The map can also be used to suggest successive patterns of defended enclosures centred on the church and castle in the early medieval period, which were disguised as a result of the later enclosure of the parish, and Tim Clough puts forward his ideas about how the layout of the town changed after the Norman Conquest.
These documents are a valuable resource for the study of Oakham and its inhabitants at the end of the eighteenth century. They are full of information for family historians and local historians alike.
About the author Tim Clough was Curator of the Rutland County Museum and Oakham Castle from 1974 to 2002, and is the Society’s Honorary Editor. Educated at Uppingham School, he has a degree in prehistoric archaeology from the University of Edinburgh and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.
Supplied by: Rutland Local History & Record Society
Product Ref: RLH-55