Focus on Richmond: Maps and Plans

By Linda Turnbull, Archivist

The County Record Office holds thousands of historic maps and plans covering the whole of North Yorkshire and dating from the 16th-20th centuries. These holdings include substantial collections of parish tithe maps, enclosure maps and historic Ordnance Survey maps. Maps can also be found in estate archives, local authority archives, parish collections and attached to sales particulars.

Richmond and the surrounding area is particularly well covered, with maps belonging to the Dundas / Zetland estate (ref: ZNK) and to the town’s records, in addition to Ordnance Survey maps from the mid-nineteenth century and others such as deposited plans.

Plan of Richmond created in 1773 showing properties in different colours to indicate ownership.
ZNK M 1/5 Plan of the borough of Richmond, 1773

This plan of the borough of Richmond created in 1773 by George Jackson gives a wonderful bird’s eye view of the layout of the town at that time. It’s reference (ZNK M 1/5) tells us that the copy we hold belongs to the Dundas estate. The message on the plan sets out the primary purpose for its creation, which was to record the ownership of houses in the town at that time.

Note from the plan:
The Houses colour'd Brown are Burgages belonging John Yorke Esq
Those colour'd Black are burgages belonging Sir Thomas Dundas Bart
Those colour'd Red are burgages belonging sundry other persons
Those colour'd Blue are not Burgages
ZNK M 1/5 Notes on the plan of the borough of Richmond, 1773

The significance of burgage property in the town is described by Fieldhouse and Jennings in “A History of Richmond and Swaledale

“The term “burgess” originally may have meant all the inhabitants of the town, but it came to be used in two more restricted senses. It distinguished those people who held burgage property (and so enjoyed the liberties and privileges granted to the burgesses by charter) from the occupiers of later tenements, who were the burgesses’ tenants and enjoyed no such rights.

It also came to refer specifically to a select group who acted as representatives of all the burgesses in a council of bailiffs and burgesses. By a process of evolution the town came to be governed by this body of four bailiffs and 24 burgesses, acting with the consent of the commonalty of the town. Thus the original distinction between burgesses or freemen of the borough and the commons evolved into a form of borough government which reserved power for a self-perpetuating body of freemen who acted with the consent of – or for the good of – the remaining inhabitants.”

Fieldhouse and Jennings in “A History of Richmond and Swaledale”, 1979 pp.16-17

The plan shows us much that we recognise today, with street names such as:

  • Bargate
  • Cravengate
  • Frenchgate
  • the Great Channel
  • The Green
  • Newbiggin
  • Pottergate
  • Quaker Lane

What we now know as the Reeth Road is labelled “Whitcliffe Mill Lane” and Hurgill (written Hergill) Road is described as the road from Reeth. This is because the Reeth Road that we know today (which starts off as the A6108 and then turns onto the B6270) had not yet been built.

Close-up of the plan showing Whitecliffe Mill Lane
ZNK M 1/5 Plan of the borough of Richmond, showing Whitecliffe Mill Lane, 1773

The plan also shows a single crossing over the river Swale, the Green Bridge, which was rebuilt in 1789. This leads to Sleegill and was also the road to Scotton, and to Askrigg and beyond. The Mercury bridge near the station was to come much later, as were Rimington Avenue and Longwood Bank – now the A6136, leading to Hipswell and Catterick Garrison.

Close-up of the plan showing the river Swale
ZNK M 1/5 Plan of the borough of Richmond, showing the river Swale, 1773

Our online catalogue can be used to identify maps and plans in our custody

Copies of many of the historic maps we hold can be purchased through our online shop

One thought on “Focus on Richmond: Maps and Plans

  1. Very interesting Linda, fascinating to compare with current maps and to see how much today follows the 1770s layout.

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