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Messing about with Maps

15 March 2016

Essex residents are being offered a one-off opportunity to see beautiful and unique maps of one of Essex's prettiest villages.



Historic maps of the village of Messing will be on display at Messing Village Hall this Saturday (19 March) as part of a one-day pop-up display from the Essex Record Office.
Messing lies in picturesque countryside in the east of the county, between Colchester and Chelmsford, and close to Kelvedon and Tiptree. It was named as Essex’s Best Kept Village in 2007 and 2008, and was the birthplace of Reynold Bush, ancestor to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
The centrepieces of the display will be two particularly special maps. The first is the oldest map of the village which dates from 1650. What it lacks in accuracy, it makes up for in colour and exuberance, and we will be asking people on the day to help us solve some of its mysteries. It is unusual to have a map from such a date, so we hope that lots of people from the local area will enjoy seeing this early representation of this historic village.
The second centrepiece will be a tithe map of the parish of Messing which was surveyed in 1839. Tithe maps were made of every parish in the late 1830s and 1840s to work out how much to tax landowners. They are detailed maps, and every property shown is numbered. The maps are accompanied by lists which tell us who owned and who occupied each property, and what it was used for. As such, tithe maps capture a snapshot of life in the early Victorian period, and are useful for all sorts of researchers today, from genealogists to social and economic historians.
This tithe map of Messing was kept in the village until recently but has now been deposited with the ERO. Having undergone conservation treatment, it is being displayed in the village for this special event, and will then be returned to special climate-controlled storage in Chelmsford.
Cllr Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Finance was full of praise for the event and encouraged residents to attend. He said: “The tithe maps are among the best preserved in the country.  This is an unmissable opportunity for local people to gain an insight into Victorian Essex and the lives of our ancestors.”
There will also be other later maps of the village for people to trace what has changed over time and what has stayed the same.
Messing about with Maps follows other similar pop-up displays over the last few years in Saffron Walden, Tilbury, Harwich, Harlow, Southend, and others, with more such events planned for the future.
The event takes place on Saturday, 19 March 2016 between10.30am and 3pm at Messing Village Hall, The Street, Messing, Essex CO5 9TN.
Entry is free, with a suggested £2 donation.
To find out more about the Essex Record Office at