The Lordship of Acklam Plan

Hanging in the double height space of the new Dorman Museum extension is a remarkable and unique historic plan. Measuring around 13 feet square this plan, painted on sailcloth, shows the extent and detail of the Lordship of Acklam Estates. It details the much of the area now occupied by the town of Middlesbrough- around the turn of the 18th. Century, extending from the River Tees in the west and north to Ormesby Beck in the east and Hemlington in the south.

For many years the plan had languished in various library and archive stores, being too large to display. The significance of this early plan was recognised by a number of historians who sought to have the plan conserved and displayed. The developments at the Dorman Museum gave rise to an opportunity to display the map and a successful bid was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund to help cover the cost of conservation and treatment.

Background to the Plan.

In 1277 the King’s Treasurer made an inquiry into the duties of knights to supply men-at-arms for the King. This inquiry stated that William de Boynton had land at Acklam. The manor of Acklam having come into the hands of the Boynton family in the time of Henry 1 through marriage of Sir Ingelram de Boynton to a daughter of the house of Acclun (Acklam).

In 1612, Francis Boynton rented Acklam Grange Estate to a wealthy draper from Bridlington by the name of William Hustler. William spent many years adding more land to the estate and improving its overall condition. His grandson, also named William Hustler, built Acklam Hall between 1680-83.

At some point, possibly around 1680, William Hustler decided to have a plan of his estates made. Around 1716 (the date painted on the Plan) he commissioned a professionally assessed and measured survey of his properties. The Lordship of Acklam Plan is assumed to be an enlargement of the findings from this survey and painted over the earlier 1680’s base. This earlier date for the plan has only just been revealed by the recent cleaning of the Plan that revealed over-painting in 1716 of an earlier key and other detail.

The Plan shows the prime assets of Sir William, showing the majority of enclosed fields named and numbered along with a few other features such as notable houses, windmills and river details. The Plan, being so large, could never have been a practical aid to estate management, it is no doubt, a piece of dynastic propaganda, designed to impress and convey power.

Conservation of the Plan

The conservation studios of Lancashire County Museums Service carried out cleaning and restoration of the Plan over a period of 18 months. The surface dirt layer was cleaned with a weak solution of ammonium. The varnish layer was removed with mixtures of acetone and acetone in white spirit. Crude late over-painting was removed with industrial methylated spirit.
Damaged areas of the canvas were repaired with filler material – a mixture of chalk, polyvinyl alcohol and pigment. Once filled, paraloid B72 resin dissolved in xylene, was applied as an isolating varnish. Areas were then painted to match adjacent areas.

The map, in its original 3 sections was remounted on new stretchers but left unframed so that all detail to the edges could still be seen.

The conservation of the plan was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and a generous donation by the Deans family of Great Ayton.

The Lordship of Aklam Plan