When did parish boundaries develop? How has your parish boundary changed in the past 1000 years? Why?
It surprises me that there are not many local history groups who explore their parish boundaries. The boundary is an essential part of the history of every parish, and was once very important to every person in the parish, and is still important for the Census, the church, voting and local government. Hence the beating of the bounds and processions. In the days before maps the boundary was described in charters and perambulations in distinctive marks in the landscape. The earliest description of the Milton Abbas boundary is from 1384 and written in Latin, although we do have a translation. It features stones, trees, roads, rivers and other landscape features. It then included the parish of Woolland, but is otherwise much the same as it is today. We have another perambulation of 1769.
We have mentioned before that the Milton Abbas Local History Group has a photographic record of the boundary taken recently every 100 metres, giving us 742 images! For more information on the Milton Abbas boundary click here.
We also have copies of the ‘meresmen’ or ‘Boundary Remark’ books which the Ordnance Survey used in 1884 to define the boundary and produce the 25 inch scale maps. The original books are held in The National Archives catalogued in OS 26. There have been some slight boundary changes since then, including moving ‘Milton End’ from Milton Abbas to Winterborne Whitechurch.
Contact us if you have recorded other features of your parish boundary such as wildlife, plant species, etc.