High Weald

The long standing legal obligation for a tenant to give one-tenth (or tithe) of produce from the land to the landowner had been partly transformed during the process of Parliamentary enclosure in the 18th and 19th centuries. As part of this process, land was allotted to the tithe owners in lieu of tithe. At the beginning of the 19th century commutation of the tithe - the change to a fixed money payment - was an important issue in the whole movement for reform. In 1836 the Tithe Commutation Act was passed and the processes which followed generated very useful information including land use, field and holding names, field sizes, names of owners/ tenants and farms.

The most important documents relating to the Act are the maps, which were drawn on a parish basis, often at a scale of 25 inches to the mile, and the accompanying apportionment volume. The map shows occupied and unoccupied buildings, fields, roads and tracks and water features. Individual fields and parcels of land are given a number which relates to the apportionment volume. In this volume, which is arranged first by landowner and within each landowner's estate then by tenants, information is given about each numbered field or parcel: field or dwelling name, land use and area. Thus is it possible to identify areas of woodland (and their name, size and owner/tenant) using the apportionment and then to locate them on the map.

Tithe maps and the apportionment schedules contain a wealth of information but they are large and unwieldy to use and it may be difficult to transpose data on to a modern map base. As the land use is not shown directly on the map the schedule need to be used in tandem with the map and as the schedule is not arranged geographically but by landowner, it can be difficult to locate the land parcel number within the schedule.