Old maps provide a hunting ground to find home ground for Lady Fan
Flitteris Manor is the home of the Fanshawes, but until I wrote the latest book (due out in the Spring) I had not needed to locate it precisely. I knew it was somewhere around the South of the country, but that was all.
However, as I intended to set scenes in Flitteris, I had to locate it more precisely. Out came my Royal Atlas - a replica of England counties as mapped in the late eighteenth century. This invaluable research book is a huge tome with hand-drawn maps littered with little snippets of information besides roads, rivers and place names.
Woods and forests are shown with little trees. Symbols indicate whether a town or village has a vicarage, rectory or merely a curacy. Ditto for monasteries, coaching inns, local monuments. There's a list of the prominent people living in the area, how many seats the place returns to Parliament, and chunks of information about market days and bits of history.
Every book I write sends me to these maps, so I can trace journeys, find locations for my characters to live or stay at with their nearest large town.
After scouring a couple of these maps, I selected Hampshire for my setting. The scan below shows the actual location of Flitteris – see where the post it note arrow is pointing. Around it you will see a few villages I am including in the book I am now writing, Lady Fan 8, which is set in and around Flitteris Manor.
Persons of interest to the story reside in Penton Mewsey and Foscot to the West, Wyke below the Roman Road, Tangley to the north and Knights Inham village. Knight's Inham has a rectory, but Foscot only a vicarage (the vicar there and his ward are in the story). I have invented taverns in Knight's Inham and Wyke. Nearly every village had one so it's fair licence for an author. The inmates of Flitteris go to the local church in Knights Inham (one that does exist), which is the nearest village.
The nearest city, not seen in this cropped version, is Winchester to the south. Whitchurch and Andover are fairly large towns, and note Chute Forest to the west near Tangley.
You'll note "Hund." or "Hundreds". These hundreds were the forerunners of districts, and represented divisions in a county for administrative purposes. Originally under a shire controlled by a sheriff, hundreds over time became linked to counties.
If you look closely at Andover, you will see a symbol that looks like a Y on its side. That means there is a coaching service along that road and Andover is a coaching stage where the horses can be changed. The little cross denotes the presence of a charity school. A circle around 17.4 is the mileage between Andover and the next main town to the West, which is Salisbury. Not a long distance you might think, but in the late 18th century would have taken between two and four hours by coach, depending on the state of the roads.
A modern map shows that although Penton Mewsey remains, Knights Inham is now Knights Enham or Enham, Foscot becomes Foxcotte, Wyke has disappeared and almost all these villages have been subsumed into the huge area that is now Andover.