Villages and hamlets (newbie)


I’ve been doing occasional changes to OSM for a while but I plan to start adding some new mapping. I’m mainly interested in cycling, walking and rural stuff. I have a garmin etrex and have downloaded a routable version of OSM, which I like. (Before that I was experimenting with Moagu, which got very time consuming.)

Initial plan is to cycle to villages and then walk round and do some mapping. Through the winter this will probably be in the Stroud - Cirencester - Birdlip triangle, though I may go further afield next year.

I have various questions which in general are UK specific. I’ll start with just a couple.

  1. Is this the best place (or an OK place) to ask them? (I’d rather ask on a forum than subscribe to a mailing list.)

  2. Several places in my area of interest have been tagged as hamlets when in every other source I’ve seen they’re called villages (or in one case, vice versa). The population-derived distinctions I’ve found seem very unsatisfactory to me - do people stick to them? Or is there something else I haven’t found?

I can imagine in sparsely populated areas such as the highlands of Scotland, a place with a pub, shop, doctor, school etc could get tagged as a hamlet, which just doesn’t feel right. And I know from letters in the local paper that people are very sensitive about whether where they live is called a hamlet/village/town.

I can offer my own definitions - I have done a bit of related academic study - but won’t bother if things are set in stone or are better defined somewhere else (I do find it tedious working through the various help sources and message archives - it doesn’t help that search doesn’t work on this forum).

Supplementary question: if the population figures are all important, how do you find them out? Even if I knew how to find them, parish population figures won’t answer my question, as in at least one case, the parish has several “villages”.

question 0) To be honest, this forum is not very active, particularly this UK section. But I think there’s a few people reading this, so you’ll probably get some answers. The Talk-GB mailing list is a bit busier. It can be useful to browse or search the mailing list archives, even if you don’t want to subscribe.

  1. hamlets vs villages
    IME most UK mappers don’t really use the population based definitions. I’m not sure when those definitions were written, or if there’s ever been much UK specific discussion about those.
    As you say, its not easy to get population figures, especially as villages often don’t have clearly defined boundaries.

I would agree that the facilities / amenities present is more useful. eg is there a pub, school, shop, post office, community hall etc. I would say if it has at least 3 of those amenities its probably a village.
And as you say, in the Highlands etc, villages can be fairly scattered. eg there might only be a few houses in the centre, but people might travel from miles around for the shop/school etc.

Whereas a hamlet is usually just a few houses, and not much else.

Also, I think a lot of hamlets / villages / placenames in the UK have been added from NPE, ie old OS maps. It may not be very obvious from these maps whether a place is a village or not, and if the mapper doesn’t have any local knowledge they may have just assumed its a hamlet. Plus the village may have grown in the last 50+ years since the NPE maps were made.

Always nice to see other local OSMers. I’m in Gloucester. :slight_smile:

As Vclaw has already said, the mailing lists are more active but there is increasingly large amounts of activity here and so if as you say forums suit you better, please do stick around.

Since I may well have been responsible for adding those places, I’d better explain myself.
I don’t use the definition on the wiki which as you say is quite unsatisfactory. I tag a place as a village if it has a church. Otherwise I tag it as a hamlet. I know the area very well so I use my own local knowledge to break that rule occasionally.

I agree with Vclaw that the test is probably the number of amenities present and size of the place in question. For example, I live in a distinct hamlet on the edge of a large sub-urban area. It’s still a hamlet in my opinion because of the lack of church (we do have a non-conformist church but it is not open to the general public, nor to me as I’m not a member) and lack of amenities and whilst the population is enlarged by the nearness of Gloucester it has an very rural nature and the houses are scattered, no centre if you like.

In the style of Wikipedia, be bold in deciding what tags to use - if someone else disagrees then they can and may change it.

Exactly so, and unfortunately I don’t know of a reliable source of figures broken down to specific places.

Yes, I have browsed some of the archives. I’ll stick to posting here for the time being.

That’s pretty much the sort of definition I had in mind. I’d probably accept 2 of those in the right circumstances as in my opinion, hamlets are purely residential and shouldn’t have any significant facilities.

I think at least two of the villages have (anglican) churches, so it may not have been you.

It’s curious how non-conformist churches seem worth less on the “village scale”. One of the villages I’m looking at (Chalford Hill) has both Baptist and Methodist churches, open to the public as far as I know, but even taken together, they don’t seem to add up to a parish church. However, the “village” has a pub, large and thriving primary school, 2 active social clubs, brass band, butchers, fish and chip shop, small electrical shop and a hairdressers, which seem rather a lot for its current status of hamlet, so I plan to upgrade it. (Not sure if the post office has finally gone, it was struggling.)

I have a couple of other problems with mapping Chalford Hill which I’ll post as separate questions after another visit.

I’ve no problem being bold with new stuff. I’m just a bit circumspect about changing other people’s work when I’m not sure of the criteria.

Almost certainly not, in that case. :slight_smile:

Having attended a non-conformist church for some years in my childhood, I personally regard them to be equal to Anglican churches but the traditional view of a hamlet is a village too small to have a church. I think that definition is tired but still generally worth taking into consideration. As to whether a non-conformist church ‘counts’ in that definition I would say that it does. But most places that have non-conformist churches usually have an Anglican church anyway.

Ah interesting. I personally regard Chalford Hill as part of Chalford itself but I notice that France Lynch, which I do consider a separate village, is also tagged as a hamlet. According to Wikipedia, all of them are villages.

My view of Chalford Hill is definitely that of an outsider though, so it may be ignorance! :slight_smile:

Fair enough, a good philosophy.