Parish Boundary


Milton Abbas Local History Group

IMG_5875 (2015_11_04 12_54_45 UTC)The Parish Boundary has often been in existence since middle Anglo-Saxon times, c. 700 AD, and is often described in early charters. Our earliest written evidence for the parish boundary of Milton Abbas is described in 1384.

The present boundary follows this ancient boundary for over 90% of its length.

Boundaries were always walked in one direction, in medieval times on Rogation Sunday. Their written description relies on this.

The ancient parish boundary is best obtained from the tithe maps. Unfortunately Milton Abbas was never tithed and there is no tithe map. However the adjacent parishes are and these can be used to determine the boundary.

We have, in addition, photographed the documents of the Meresmen’s Notebooks of the Ordnance Survey 1888 which are at The National Archives.

As W G Hoskins says in his Local History in England – “you should walk around and describe the boundaries of the ancient ecclesiastical parish. The boundaries of the ancient ecclesiastical parish are not always easy to discover. Those boundaries marked on the modern Ordnance Survey maps are the boundaries of the civil parish which may or may not coincide with the boundaries of the ancient ecclesiastical parish. Many civil parish boundaries are relatively modern, the result of nineteenth century administrative changes, and therefore of no particular significance.”

We have now photographed the whole of the parish boundary 14.5 miles using GPS, and a mapping app on an iPhone. It is remarkable how it has been made in the past – in places there are two parallel banks and ditches, then a track and two further banks and ditches. All banks being topped with coppiced trees. Clearly these places were of great importance to the medieval people of Milton Abbas.

It would be good to record in the same way the previous boundaries where they differ from the present boundary – we have a perambulation of 1384 which could be followed. We also need to determine the Ecclesiastical boundary if this differs from the parish boundary.