A 17th-century Lancashire road map

17th-century road map of Lancashire
The route from Warrington in the south to north of Lancaster shown on the modern Open Street Map, courtesy of OSM contributors

A collection of 17th-century strip maps showing routes through the old county of Lancashire from Warrington in the south to Furness in the north was discovered at Towneley Hall in the 1950s, deposited at Lancashire Record Office and attributed to the Lancashire antiquarian Dr Richard Kuerden. For a detailed discussion of their discovery and their companion street plans of Preston and Lancaster see here. The strip maps follow the style of John Ogilby’s 1675 Britannia Atlas (the relevant plates are shown below). Also found in the Towneley collection is a number of rough sketch maps that appear to be the working drawings for the finished strip maps. Together these supply a wealth of topographical information about Lancashire at the end of the 17th century.

Additional topographical information is provided by Kuerden’s description of his journey through Lancashire at the end of the century, a transcript of which was published in Local Gleanings. [1]

A far more congenial travelling companion than Kuerden is Jessica Lofthouse, whose Lancashire Westmorland Highway follows this route closely. [2]

Plate 37 of Ogilby's strip plans of England

Plate 38 of Ogilby's strip plans of England

Internal evidence suggests a date for the production of the Towneley strip maps of after 1682 and before 1695. On one of the rough maps (Lancashire Archives DDX194/23v) the owner of what is named Dale Hall in Bamber Bridge is given as a Mr Lee. The hall is normally referred to as Little Walton Hall (this occurrence of the Dale Hall name is the only one I have found). Abram in his History of Blackburn includes details of a deed dated 26 October 1682 that shows John Leigh of Preston taking possession of the hall. Abram then reports Kuerden’s description of the hall in around 1695, by which time it was in the possession of Mr Ratcliffe Ashton of the Cuerdale Ashetons. [3] Given that the street plans can be fairly confidently dated to 1685, it would seem likely that the strip maps, if they were part of the same project, were produced around the same time.

The various maps and plans found at Towneley Hall could represent a single unfinished project, separate projects or the remnants of a completed project.

Kuerden himself  features on the same rough map as the Mr Lee of Dale Hall referred to above. There he is named ‘Dr Cewerton Antyquary’. I do not know whether he ever used that spelling of his surname or the spelling Kewerton Hall that also appears on that strip plan.

Section from 17th-century road plan of Lancashire showing Preston
A section from one of the finished maps (DDX194/39) taken from the most comprehensive history of Lancashire roads: Alan Crosby, ed., Leading the Way: A History of Lancashire’s Roads (Lancashire County Books, 1998), 76.

The distances on the strip plans are measured in miles, furlongs and poles, using statute measure rather than one of the measures in common use in Lancashire at that time (see here). The surveyors clearly found their task challenging as can be seen by the notes scribbled on their plans. When surveying the route from Lancaster to Clougha Pike the surveyor notes ‘here was no way at all’ (DDX194/43) and, further west, the surveyors can be found struggling with their measurements: ‘que whither there be nott a mile mistaken between fortin green and Crooka bridg if 0:3:18 or 1:3:18’ (DDX194/27r).

The surveyors continued their work across the sands on the Furness peninsula and the maps they produced for that area have received a detailed treatment from Bill Shannon. [4] Unfortunately, the article is available only to members of the society that published the article and thus sits behind a pay wall. The article contains the figure and caption below indicating the routes covered in the survey, but this map does not reveal the intricate detail of the 17th-century Furness landscape captured by the surveyors.

Map of 17th-century routes on Furness peninsulaThe Furness area is far beyond the bounds I set for this website, but I might publish the detailed mapping at a later date. Since this is a website devoted to the history of Preston, the strip maps published here will be reproduced in the order that they radiate from that town.

[1] Local Gleanings Relating to Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. 1, 1876, 208–11, 214, 217–18, 220.
[2] Jessica Lofthouse, Lancashire Westmorland Highway: With Byways and Footways for the Curious Traveller (Hale, 1953).
[3] W. A. Abram, History of Blackburn (Blackburn: J. G. & J. Toulmin, 1877), 730.
[4] William D. Shannon, ‘The Landscape and People of the Cartmel Peninsula in 1685: The Kuerden/Towneley Maps’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society 18 (2018): 201–22.

The routes

Section of a 17th-century road map of Lancashire
Standish to Preston

17th-century plan of route from Bamber Bridge to Cadley in Lancashire
Bamber Bridge to Cadley Moor
A more detailed treatment of a section of the Standish to Preston mapping, incorporating information from Kuerden’s itinerary.

Section of a 17th-century road map of Lancashire from Ribbleton, Preston, to Inglewhite
Ribbleton to Inglewhite and beyond via Goosnargh

Section of a 17th-century road map of Lancashire from Lea, Preston, to Poulton
Lea to Poulton

Strip map of 17th-century route from Broughton to Ellel in Lancashire
Broughton to Ellel

Reconstruction of a 17th-century map of the route from the River Brock to Garstang in Lancashire
River Brock to Garstang

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