I saw this on The Genealogist today – Tithe records on the Map Explorer reveal more about the places our ancestors lived and worked: https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/featuredarticles/2020/tithe-records-on-the-map-explorer-reveal-more-about-the-places-our-ancestors-lived-and-worked-1302/. Somewhat long article so only included a snippet so people could get a feel for the rest.
In 1849 Joseph Willis of Norden passed away. He was 82 at the time of his death and according to his obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine published at the end of 1849, he had been the ‘steward to the late Earl of Eldon for upwards of half a century’. A search of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills that can be found on TheGenealogist discovers his last will and testament where he is described as a ‘Gentleman’ of Norden in the Parish of Corfe Castle. From the 1841 census we see that his status was recorded at this time as a ‘Yeoman’. Other records point to him as having been a ‘Clay Agent’ while, in an online history of the Middlebere Plateway, a horse drawn tramway that ran from the clay pits in the area to the Middlebere Creek in Poole Harbour, he was described as the manager of the clay pits while also being the tenant of Norden Farm.
The Middlebere horse drawn railway at first served clay pits that had been established on the east side of the road from Wareham to Corfe Castle. After a while the plateway was then extended under the road to serve clay workings that were on the other side of the road as well. This required the construction of two tunnels under the road to reach the different workings and these can be clearly seen on the tithe maps from 24th February 1843.
By using the National Tithe Record Collection on TheGenealogist we are able to find Joseph as the occupier of Norden Farm with its pasture lands, meadows, coppice and arable land as well as the Clay Pits. These records tell us that the land around Norden Farm were all owned by the Earl of Eldon, to whom we had previously discovered Willis had been the steward. But this was not the only land that Joseph Willis occupied in and around Corfe Castle as exploring the area’s tithe maps will reveal.