A Sense of Place
West Sussex Parish Maps
Common Ground’s Parish Maps project was initiated in the 1980s with the challenge to local people to chart what they value in their place as a first step to engaging in its care. Not only in Britain, but in Europe, North America, Australia and Africa, Parish Maps have been helpful in starting people in a social exchange of environmental knowledge and action.
Marking the culmination of an eight year long community project involving some two thousand people, a book – a large format 320 page handsome hardback depicting 75 Parish Maps in full colour, along with many enlarged cameo features from each map – is launched at the end of November. This is the first book to be published on a county’s Parish Maps.
Kim Leslie, based in the County Record Office in Chichester, has been the inspiration behind parish councils and groups making their own Parish Maps. He writes in his introduction: “West Sussex County Council first took up the idea of parish mapping as one of several ways to celebrate the new millennium. Parish Maps were felt to be ideal for making a permanent record – a snapshot in time – of places and people in the county at this key moment in the calendar. The idea proved so successful that the project has continued, and is continuing, to spread across the county…"
Kim gave talks to all the parish groups and hosted a conference in May 1999, followed by newsletters to keep everyone informed and interest alive, giving advice on the use of materials to conservation standards, framing and printing, and much more. ‘Mapping the Millennium’, an exhibition of 66 of the maps, was displayed in Worthing Museum & Art Gallery from 2001 – 2002, attracting thousands of visitors from near and far. Since then the number of maps made has risen to just over 100, with the hope that all the parishes in the county will eventually take part.
Kim says the book is no conventional atlas guidebook “The commentary is more a series of personal views and feelings to try and capture the spirit or sense of each place, about what it is that gives a place its distinct atmosphere. And, as with the maps, these are highly personal statements. In the end this approach is all about understanding the distinction between ‘looking and seeing’ – in ‘reading’ a place at its many different levels…. What has been remarkable has been the way the project has touched so many lives. It has been the process of making these maps as much the maps themselves, that has been significant both in personal and community terms".
One example: “Copthorne’s map makes a tree a metaphor for the community – the mighty oak symbolising the strength of community spirit, the shape of the tree creating the map itself, the village its branches. The roots beneath the tree feature family names, so that just as its roots nurture growth so the people themselves make the community; and as the tree brings forth its fruit as acorns, so these fruits encase the harvest of talent in the form of clubs and societies. This is a brilliant conception."
We echo this and add that Kim’s selfless advocacy and sharing of knowledge deserves our thanks and the thanks of all who have been encouraged by his enthusiasm.
‘A Sense of Place: West Sussex Parish Maps’ by Kim Leslie is published by West Sussex County Council on November 23, 2006. It is available from the West Sussex Record Office, County Hall, Chichester PO19 1RN (£35 rrp), at a special price of £30 including p&p. Cheque payable to West Sussex County Council.
For further information visit the West Sussex web-site, call +44(0)1243 753600 or e-mail kim.leslie [at] westsussex.gov.uk.
Common Ground publish ‘from place to PLACE: maps and Parish Maps’, a collection of writings on and illustrations of Parish Maps - Order from our Market Place.
See MORE MAPS FROM WEST SUSSEX or return to the MAP PATH