Benfleet Before The Railway

The Tithe Map, 1841

The word tithe refers back to a time when a tenth of people’s income was given to the church. This was originally in the form of produce, but later became a monetary tax. The 1841 Tithe map for South Bemfleet is held at the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford . Permission to copy any part of it should be obtained from the Record Office.

It measures 9 feet by 6 feet and records how the land was divided up into plots and who owned them and who worked them. At a largely agricultural time it records which fields belonged to which farms and gives the field names, some that hint of their origins or use like Horse Marsh….others are less prosaic like Five Acres. It also lists the size of each plot and the use made of it.  The map, in essence, is a detailed snapshot of village Benfleet just before the advent of the railways.

Because of its size, I have broken it down into 4 areas with an additional “blow up” of the main area of settlement (High Street/ Endway).The first and most important thing to note is that the map is upside down by today’s convention. Here, the top of the map faces south and the top shows Canvey Island at a time when some of the land still belonged to the various mainland parishes. Secondly, to understand what you are looking at you will need to consult the tithe map key to interpret the plot numbers.

Don’t forget to click on the pages to enlarge them…

Tithe map, top left
Tithe map, top right
Tithe map, bottom left
Tithe map, bottom right
Tithe map, centre of population

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