Maps permeate our lives in ways that are often unacknowledged. In particular, through the naming of things, they are important repositories for the process of reconstructing old cultures and human relationships. Maps are our supreme fictions of the world, the surveyed side of our dreams. Stone Age hunters contemplated patterns in animal tracks; the frst stargazers made maps of the sky and built cities on the plains; sailors came home with salt in their beards because they could read rocks, winds, and stars. Maps merit meditation, if only in fragments, like murmurs on a summer night, variations on a theme. What theme? Call it the 'imagination of maps', their stories and histories as people pass through a land that charts their passage in ciphers as intriguing as the Rosetta Stone.

The account of people of the Blyth often extends into the border communities of adjacent hundreds. This story begins on the high clay plateau marking the division between the old hundreds of Blything and Wangford. Where this lonely boundary sparates the communities of Brampton in Blything and Shadingfield in Wangford, it actually passes through Titsal Wood, which is thereby divided between the two parishes. This wood is virtually unchanged from the Tithe Maps of the 1830s and 40s, when both parts of the wood were owned by the Earl of Gosford. A name and pedigree to conjure with.

On the modern map, a few miles to the north west of Titsal, is another wood named Sparrow’s Thicks, divided by the parish boundary between Shadingfield and Redisham.

The human connection between these two topographical features and the three parish histories is the marriage on 20th July 1805 of Archibold Acheson, second Earl of Gosford to Mary Sparrow, only child and heiress of Robert Sparrow of Worlingham Hall.

Through the Acheson family this story from a map takes a 400 year sweep of British Imperial history. In a narrower sense, the Sparrows throw light on the intense intellectual activities of the Victorian upper classes of the 'Sunrise Coast'. See also

To be continued…..