Mapping the village

Early maps

Today we take for granted the availability of detailed maps of Cornwall, but spare a thought for anyone wanting to travel the area in 1600 or earlier. It was often easier to travel by sea than by land because of the uncharted nature of the terrain in this very rural area.

Mapping by triangulation

The location of the church can be derived without visiting it from the distance AB, and the angles α and β measured by theodolite.
Today, anyone can do it accurately with a handheld gps device costing less than £100, but they must visit the church.

Mapping was in its infancy, but Christopher Saxton's map of England, made under the auspices of Queen Elizabeth I, included Cornwall, 1576, with its very distinctive shape. Refinements to this map quickly followed from John Norden (1) and John Speed, both about 1610 (2).

These two mapmakers travelled the county and probably used the technique of triangulation (see box below) to measure distances. Early prints of their maps, particularly that of Speed, are much sought after. It is remarkable how similar their outlines of Cornwall are to that of modern day maps. Norden's map was the more detailed and showed the 10 'hundreds' or sub divisions of the county with St Teath being in the Trigg Hundred which extended to Bodmin in the south - perhaps a precedent for our Bodmin postal area of today.

Although both Norden and Speed's maps showed St Teath, they did not show roads, so it is difficult to know how they got about the area. As can be seen, Norden's map is clearer and attempted to show hills pictorially because no elevations were available, although it was strange placing the church on top of a hill. It also showed the names of local families. Bedwene is something of a mystery (see below). Further afield in the parish, these maps make no mention of Pengelly or Medrose, now parts of Delabole.

Detail from Norden's Map
... and from Speed's map

Trehenock (Trehannick), Tregargett (Tregardock) and Treburgett are easily identified and Trewindle is now Trewennan at the bottom of the hill towards Delabole.

Joel Gascoyne's map 1699

The map of Cornwall by Joel Gascoyne (3) produced in the 1690s on a scale of almost 1 inch to the mile was one of the earliest attempts to show roads (probably rough lanes). However, the road layout is well out of alignment with the more reliable OS map below. Gascoyne's map was the first to show parish boundaries, a considerable achievement in itself.

No doubt the drawing of partial maps of the St Teath area was ongoing and has been since to indicate the estate boundaries, but these lie buried in title deeds and are difficult to access, especially when it is not clear which, if any, early ones are still in existence. One possible source might have been the recently published Lanhydrock Atlas(4) of the 1690's, largely the work of Gascoyne (3), which shows fields and terrain types in colourful detail. Unfortunately, the only Lanhydrock estates in St Teath parish were Lanagan, Newhall, Under Viccaridg(sic)and Newhall Mill.

On a wider scale, it was not until the end of the 18th century that a methodical approach to the mapping of England became a reality. Turmoil in France and fears that the French revolution might spread to England prompted the government to order the mapping of southern England by the Defence Ministry Board of Ordnance. Maps were drawn to a scale of 1 inch to the mile, or 1:63,360. These are now known as the old series. The artistic decoration of the older maps was dispensed with to give a much more objective picture of counties like Cornwall, completed around 1810.

Early Ordnance Survey (OS) maps

Detail from Ordnance Survey map ca. 1810

The shading on the maps gives a simple picture of hills and valleys, although no elevation data (contours) are shown. Roads are shown for the first time - a huge advantage to military operations if the need arose.

Expanded view of St Teath from map above

We also get the first indication of the layout of the village with nearly all dwellings located within 200 yards of the church at most. Whether the fine detail is very accurate remains to be seen, for there appear to be two buildings located in The Square. Striking by its absence, there is no A39 through the Allen Valley to Knight's Mill (not in this section), so it appears that traffic from the west would pass through The Square on the way to Camelford. This is more clearly shown in a 10 miles to the inch map published by C Smith(5) in 1806. Names change again - Trewindle becomes Trewinnel, Bodwene becomes Bodwin. Strangely, considering its prominence on earlier maps, the latter appears to have disappeared completely today. Withywells (Whitewell) and Treville (Trevilley) and Trewoossel (Treroosel) appear. The location of Treburgett mine is not shown, but extensive work didn't start there until about 1817.

Later Ordnance Survey maps

The first detailed OS map of the area at a scale of 25 inches to the mile was published in 1881 and provides much more detail on the village and, for the first time, some elevations denoted by benchmarks. What was to become the A39 in the Allen Valley is marked.

Detail from Ordnance Survey map 1881

The extent of the dwellings remained relatively unchanged until after the Second World War. There is a New White Hart in its present location and an Old White Hart in Fore Street, the house now called Greystones. The school had just been built (1878). Church/chapel going was well provided for - in addition to the parish church there was a Bible Christian chapel (roughly where the Koth Karrji development is now located) in North Road and a newly-built United Methodist chapel in Trevilley Lane. There are two Sunday Schools - one in the Community Centre and the other at the end of Trevilley Lane. The New Cemetery was consecrated in 1869.

Kelly's Business Directory of 1889 lists the postmaster, a shopkeeper, two blacksmiths (shown opposite the White Hart and by the Church Hall), a butcher, carpenter and two shoe makers.

More recent OS maps are still covered by copyright restrictions, and cannot be reproduced here. Because of this, the street name and new development areas are shown on the hand-drawn map below. Older names, not widely known, are in this style.

St Teath 2010

The last 100 years

Around 1950 the expansion of the village was well underway with social housing at Tethadene, followed in the 1970s by larger developments at Bryny Close, Valley View and Trehannick Close to be followed by Eglos Court and numerous other small developments. The property explosion of the 1990's and early 2000's brought The Meadows, and 'affordable' housing at Bruallen Court - these changes in total probably doubling the population, but there are no data available to confirm this.

The range of maps available today is astonishing when compared with 100 years ago, comprising very accurate and detailed OS digital data, complimented by Google's aerial views/maps and streetview.

The last 100 years has also brought a bigger transformation of the village than any previous century, and to appreciate this better, a recent Google aerial view has been adapted to represent the village as it would have appeared in 1910 as revealed by an Ordnance Survey map of the period. Even St Teath's iconic clock had not been constructed at that time. No doubt the extent of hedgerows and trees is now different and there would probably have been more animals in the fields, but the general picture of housing and field patterns is true. Click the yellow 'year' button (bottom right) to switch images. Adobe Flash is needed on your computer.

More village mapping

The focus has been on the mapping of accurate geographical features, but postcodes can also provide other, less accurate, reference points. We have already used this to indicate how broadband download speeds vary throughout the village. Property values are also available by postcode, but there are not enough of them to make meaningful comparisons.


Peter Dewhurst, USA, provided invaluable advice on old maps of Cornwall.


(1) John Norden's manuscript maps of Cornwall and its Nine Hundreds, William Ravenhill, University of Exeter, 1972. Although Norden's survey work was carried out in the late 16th century, the maps were not published until 1728.

(2) R C E Quixley, Antique Maps of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, 1966. A very good summary of maps of Cornwall with numerous illustrations.

(3)Joel Gascoyne. A map of the county of Cornwall 1699. Reprinted in facsimile with an introduction by W L D Ravenhill and O J Padel. Devon and Cornwall Record Society, New Series, Vol 34, 1991.

(4)The Lanhydrock Atlas. A Complete Reproduction of the 17th-Century Cornish Estate Maps. Paul Holden, Peter Herring, Oliver Padel. Cornish Editions Ltd., 2010.

(5) C Smith New Map of Great Britain and Ireland Southern England 1806 Scale 1:633600

See also Road-Books, Road-Maps and Itineraries of Great Britain 1535 to 1850. A Catalogue for Devon and Cornwall by Francis Bennett.