New Maps of Chiswick

by Peter Hammond

Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal 12 (2003)

Until recently no detailed maps of Chiswick were known from the period between the map in Rocque’s Environs of London of 1746 and the Tithe Map of 1847. Fortunately, over the past two or three years, work in the archives at Chatsworth has shown that there are three large scale maps dating from around 1815, not exactly filling the one hundred year gap but excellent finds none the less.

All of these maps seem to have originated in the activity over the enclosure of the common lands at Chiswick in the years between about 1806 and 1818. Enclosure was the extsinct8ion of common rights, such as farming and grazing on open fields and other lands, and the conversion of the land to private use.

The enclosure process in Chiswick would appear to have been rather long drawn out and did not formally come to an end until 1840, but to all intents and purpose most of the enclosure was complete by 1815. These maps reflect what was being done around that time. The Local Studies Department at Chiswick Library now has copies of these maps.

The maps were surveyed and drawn by Peter Potter, a surveyor employed to prepare enclosure surveys –and for much else, including the map for the Brentford Turnpike Act of 1814 – by many land owners from about 1801 to 1814. We do not know how he came to the attention of the Duke of Devonshire, the leading landowner in the enclosure of Chiswick, but we do know that he was employed in the area from at least 1814 to about 1821 since we have his invoices both to the Enclosure Commissioners (umpires of the enclosure process) and to the Duke. We also have his letters to the Duke’s agent pointing out that his invoice has not been paid (Chatsworth: Currey Papers, L114/90/4 and L114/90/6).

The third map was drawn up in 1816 (although it bears the date 1818) and is described by Potter as a survey of ‘Chiswick Mansion, Gardens, Pleasure Gardens, Plantations, Parks and Estates connected therewith in a minute and particular manner’. As a map of the Duke’s estates it is a plan of most of Chiswick except the western part south of the High Road from the site of Gunnersbury station to Kew Bridge. It has a splendid plan of Chiswick House and grounds (Chatsworth: ‘Peter Potter’ map of Chiswick, © Devonhurst Collection, Chatsworth, reproduced by permission of the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees).