By Tim Hudson (guest blogger)
What types of historic documents do architectural historians use? Continuing with our guest written series, the once Editor of the Sussex Victoria County History and co author of the updated Pevsner guide to West Sussex, Tim Hudson, will be exploring the types of records used when researching built heritage. Each blog, Tim will look at a significant West Sussex building through a variety of historic documents available at the Record Office.
Today we look at the maps of Selsey.
Architectural historians regularly use old maps, of which the Record Office has a fine collection. The small town and seaside resort of Selsey south of Chichester, not usually much noticed for its historic buildings, provides an example.
Estate maps often give outline plans of buildings, yielding termini ante and post for extensions and demolitions. Sometimes there may be a vignette of a building itself. Add MS 2051 shows the junction of Selsey’s High Street with East Street and West Street. The building described as ‘Homestead’ survives just north of where the One-Stop shop is today, and intriguingly is called …The Homestead.
Inclosure of open fields and commons was accompanied by maps showing the allotments made and new roads created. The latter were often straight and are sometimes taken to be Roman roads. Hillfield Road in Selsey, laid out at inclosure in 1821, aims directly for the Bill. Big houses were later put up alongside it and in streets to east and west.
One of these specially featured in the recent revision of Pevsner’s Buildings of England, Sussex West, is The Bill House in Grafton Road of 1906-7 by the important Arts and Crafts architect M H Baillie Scott. [image] Since it’s now a care home its internal courtyard isn’t accessible, but the building with its quirky off-centre lookout tower can be admired from the street.
OS 6” and 25” maps in their successive editions show how places developed. The 6” map of 1912 has the line of the eccentric Chichester – Selsey tramway, with its three stations in the town that brought visitors to the seaside. The route can be hard to trace today. For the history of the tramway see the WSCC publication Going off the Rails: The Country Railway in West Sussex, by Bill Gage and others (1997).