THE WORK OF A FEMALE CARTOGRAPHER with an ILLUSTRATION OF A SURVEYING PARTY. A remarkable early and very ornate estate plan of the parish of Bryanston in Dorset. Running through the map is the River Stour along with the towns of Blandford Forum, Pimperne, Blandford St. Mary, Winterborne Stickland and Durweston. It is centred on Bryanston House which is believed to have been listed in the Domesday book. The estate had been acquired by the Rogers family in 1410 and was sold following the death of Richard Rogers 1646 (will signed 23.9.1645). It was acquired in 1662 by Sir William Portman who was part of the defeat of Monmouth’s rebellion in 1685.
The survey was undertaken in 1657-58 and was prepared for the sale of the estate by William Bowles. From the survey Margaret Bowles produced this reduced plan which bears notations about possible sales – “Mr Pitt and Colletts Meede: Buy it”, “Mr Ryues: Pray buy it” and “Trees by Park are worth …” It contains three cartouches which contain the references to a list of the “Tenants of Blandford”, the “Tennants of Bryanston” and “To know what every acre is worth in the manar of Brainston and whether they are: Meadow: Pasture or Arable”. The map bears elaborate cartouches, heavily decorated in gilt as is the plan itself. There are agricultural scenes of haymaking, ploughing, orchards cattle and sheep. The most significant images on the map however are the depictions of the surveying team of William Bowles, who are identified left to right: ‘Hen Write’, ‘Rich Poole’, (unnamed), ‘William Bowles’, ‘Mr Stratton’, ‘Mr Fisher’, ‘Mr Andrewes’ and ‘John Heath’. About the Bowles family of surveyor’s we know nothing beyond this work. Whether they are related to the great eighteenth century family of mapmakers of the same name is unknown.
The Dorset History Centre describes the area thus “The enclosures led down to the River Stour, over which was ‘The great clyffe’ of planted woodland leading to the pre-1778 Bryanston House built by the Rogers family”. Provenance: Wilfrid Cowley, one of the founders of Bryanston School neighbouring this land; by descent to the present owners. Eden, Dictionary of Land Surveyors and Local Mapmakers, p.56 (notes them as Bowles).