The National Archives is the official archive for England, Wales and the central UK government, containing 1,000 years of history from Domesday Book to the present, with records ranging from parchment and paper scrolls through to recently created digital files and archived websites. Increasingly, these records are being put online, making them universally accessible. The National Archives has also, one of the world’s richest holdings of historical mapping. There are believed to be more than six million maps and plans, with more added every year. Ranging from the fourteenth century to the modern day, most date from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. The British Isles and places all round the globe are represented. This section includes different documents:
1) Maps for family and local history: Maps in The National Archives were used for central government purposes and only a small proportion have peoples’ names upon them. However there are many maps of interest to family and local historians. It includes: The Tithe Survey, Valuation Office Survey, National Farm Survey, Enclosure maps and Ordnance Survey.
2) Military and overseas maps: i) Military maps: The National Archives has important holdings of military maps and fortification plans. They illustrate military and naval battles and operations from Tudor times, through Trafalgar and Waterloo, to the D-Day landings and the Korean War. ii) Sea charts: The National Archives holds many charts, views and surveys made by naval officers (including Captains Grenvill Collins, Cook, Vancouver, Bligh and Nelson) and many plans of dockyards and naval defences. These date from a fourteenth century portolan chart of the Mediterranean, and show waters at home and overseas. iii) Overseas: The National Archives holds many maps of places overseas. These include countries which have at one time been British colonies or protectorates, and also areas in which Britain has had a commercial or strategic interest or where there have been diplomatic or military concerns. Maps record exploration, colonisation, and the practicalities of running a global empire. iv) International Boundaries: The National Archives holds maps, surveys and other records relating to international boundaries, principally for areas where British colonial interests were involved. Increasingly the boundaries between British colonies and neighbouring colonies of other European nations were defined by treaty and drawn on a map to be preserved among the archives of the colonial powers concerned.
3) Architectural drawings: The National Archives holds a large number of architectural drawings particularly of public buildings and monuments. There are examples of almost every kind of building and structure erected during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There are also drawings of structures such as bridges, piers, statues and railway signal boxes. For more information see: Architectural Drawings in The National Archives research guide and the House history resource on the website.