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Posts Tagged ‘maps’

Or know about. I contend that you can’t begin to understand London’s history properly without a pretty decent knowledge of its geography too, and how it’s changed over time. The answer, of course, lies in maps.

There have been many, but here – up until the end of the 19C – are the most notable, milestones if you will (with a few other items thrown in, e.g. Visscher, Tallis).

500px-braun_london_ubhd

Tudor London by Braun and Hogenberg

500px-rocques_map_of_london

Mid 18C London by John Rocque

c1560 Ralph Agas (attr. disputed)

1572 Braun and Hogenberg, Civitates Orbis Terrarum

1593 John Norden. Maps of the Cities of London and Westminster

1616 Claes Visscher (1586 – 1652)   A Panorama of London

1667 Wenceslaus Hollar (1607 – 1677), City of London after the Fire, and more

1676 John Ogilby (1600 – 1676) and William Morgan (d 1690), City of London

1682 William Morgan, London &c Actually Survey’d, London and Westminster

1746 John Rocque (1706 – 1762) A plan of the cities of London and Westminster, and borough of Southwark.

1762 House numbering introduced.

1799 Richard Horwood (1757 – 1803), PLAN of the Cities of LONDON and WESTMINSTER the Borough of SOUTHWARK and PARTS adjoining Shewing every HOUSE

1827 Christopher (1786-1855) and John  Greenwood  (d 1840) Map of London.

1840 John Tallis (1817 – 1876), London Street Views

1898 Edward Stanford (1827 – 1904), Stanford’s Map of the County of London.

My list is just scratching the surface. There are dozens – possibly hundreds – of omissions, not least speciality maps relating to bombs, insurance, poverty, temperance, religion etc., And then there are the panoramas. Pure joy.


Recommended Reading/Owning
The Times Atlas of London (2012)
London, a History in Maps (2012)  by Peter Barber
Mapping London, Making Sense of the City (2007) by Simon Foxell


Recommended Sites
Locating London’s Past
Mapco
Motco
Stanfords


My final tip. Join the London Topographical Society.

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George III was very interested in maps, collecting them in huge numbers, along with views, architectural drawings and miscellaneous printed ephemera.  George IV, by contrast, was not. He dearly wished to convert his father’s library at Buck House into a ball room and very quickly began to dispose of the collection. Fortunately they were taken up by the British Museum and in 1973 ended up in their logical home: the British Library. The total collection amounts to over 60,000 item of which around 1,200 are directly London-related. While the British Library possesses 4.5 million maps in total, this is a very shiny jewel indeed. 

The collection includes all the great maps of London in the original and because they were acquired through royal patronage and acquisition, they are best quality and in a very many cases, unique. Gems include original drawings by Robert Adam of the Adelphi and all the London churches by Hawksmoor. These represent the tip of an iceberg of drawings and plans from the leading architects of Georgian London.  There are other etchings, engravings and views. Being famously miserly, George would encourage his buyers to pick up unsold items at auction. The result is that the collection also contains a large amount of ephemera, unloved in their day by connoisseurs but of massive value to the modern historian.

British Library Maps Collection

Wenceslaus Hollar’s famous survey of the destruction from the Great Fire, executed in 1667. Collection of the British Library.

Led by BL’s Head of Map Collections, Peter Barber, the department recently embarked on a project to digitise King George III’s Topographical Collection (K Top for short) in its entirely. With only their own staff to call upon and the work being too technical for volunteers, Unlock London Maps is expected to take at least four years but will be released online as it goes. Some, like those in this post, are already available. As a lover of maps, the prospect of further releases is a delicious one.

But the project needs to raise funds. The £100,000 overall target is a vital yet realistic number in this day and age and we encourage you to make a donation, large or small. Please do so via the Unlock London Maps Page.

We’ve organised a behind the scenes visit of BL’s Maps Collection on 12 June to view some of this treasure. It will be led by Peter himself. All of the £15 ticket money will go towards the fund. Members only, I’m afraid. If that’s you, make your booking here.

Here are a few more lovely examples from K Top.

British Library Maps Collection

Thamesis Descriptio by Robert Adams, the Queen’s architect, in anticipation of Spanish Invasion, 1588. Note South-North orientation. Collection of the British Library.

British Library Maps Collection

Gorgeous pocket map of London published in 1738 by Elizabeth Foster, after her late husband, George Foster. Collection of the British Library.

British Library Maps Collection

Hand-coloured map of the parish of St. Pancras, by J Tompson, 1804. Collection of the British Library.

British Library Maps Collection

T Horner’s plan and view of Kington upon Thames, 1813. Collection of the British Library.

 

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MacDonald GillMost of us know Eric Gill (1882 – 1940), the renowned typographer and sculptor. Few, however, are familiar with his younger brother, MacDonald “Max” Gill (1884 – 1947), who doesn’t even have a proper entry on Wikipedia and nothing at all in the DNB. Hence the title of this exhibition, which opens today at the Pitzhanger Manor gallery in Ealing.

My first introduction to Max Gill was at last year’s Mind the Map exhibition at the London Transport Museum. I ended up featuring him strongly in my review, as he was unquestionably one of the stars of the show itself. Before and after the First World War, he was on the roster of commercial artists engaged by the Underground’s talented talent-spotter Frank Pick, and it was said that commuters actually missed their trains in order to enjoy Max’s cartoon map of central London: Wonderground. This poster, along with its ink preparatory sketch – plus other Gill items from the LTM collection – feature in this show.

But Underground posters are a tiny fraction of Max Gill’s output and not even particularly representative of his life’s work. A formally-trained architect, Max – like his brother – was a talented typographer and calligrapher, much evidenced here. You will also see his expertise in architectural illustration (naturally) but there are plenty of examples of his work in tapestry design, heraldry, monuments, book covers, invitations, advertisements, large-scale murals. He was unapologetically a commercial artist; a jack of all trades, and yet master of most of them. Compared with Eric’s modernism, Max’s work is highly detailed, drawing much more on the past. But look at his designs for the 1938 Empire Exhibition in Glasgow and you’ll see his deco elements, delivered effortlessly.

If he is remembered for anything, though, it will be his maps. They are exquisite, colourful, funny, playful, large, propagandistic (one of his main clients was the Empire Marketing Board). Visual puns abound. Dozens of examples feature in this exhibition.

MacDonald Gill

Post Office Wireless Stations, 1938.

MacDonald Gill

Tea Revives the World (detail), 1940

Max Gill had been married for twenty years when in the late 1930s his private life became complicated when he fell in love with his god-daughter, the attractive Priscilla Johnston, 26 years his junior. This is Johnston as in Edward Johnston the typographer of London Transport’s typeface, friend of the Gill brothers and mentor of Eric in particular. You see, Priscilla was his daughter. I mention this only because in the show are two letters from 1938 in reaction to this situation breaking cover: one from Johnston to Priscilla, his daughter – forgiving; and one from Eric to Max – the opposite, berating. Both writers, as one might expect, had beautiful handwriting. There is also a rather nice letter, after Max’s death from his first wife Muriel to Priscilla.

These letters are in addition to diaries, notebooks, sketchbooks, Max’s pens, nibs, rulers, T-square, tools of his trade. Even the brass plate from his architecture practice. So Out of the Shadows is a very intimate exhibition as well as being a very complete one.

MacDonald Gill

Notebook: Trains, aged 12, 1896.

MacDonald Gill

Architectural sketch. Wisborough Green, 1935.

MacDonald Gill

Mural of North Atlantic for RMS Queen Mary.

This show is curated by Max Gill’s great-niece, Caroline Walker, alongside Edward Johnston’s grandson Andrew Johnston and Andrew’s wife Angela. The Johnstons provided many of the exhibits and personal memorabilia featured in this show. Caroline has determined to bring the artist’s life and work to a wider audience. A book is in the pipeline, but meantime visit her MacDonald Gill website and sign up to her newsletters which you’ll receive from time to time. There is a good gallery of Max’s work there too on this page.

So. Out of the Shadows. A one-man exhibition of the most charming and breathtaking inter-war commercial art. I shall definitely go again, probably several times. You should too. And it’s free.

The show runs until 2 November. Information here.

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Here is an unfinished item I’m working on. It’s pretty crude – I’m very rusty on the ol pen and ink. It’s a map of sorts featuring the old medieval London Wall and the eight City gates. All were swept away in the 1760s to make way for road widening: the city was almost literally bursting at the seams.

You’ll find this a piece of cake compared to some London Christmas quizzes on the Internet right now, but before I finish it off and caption the gates properly, can you identify them?

london wall and gates of london

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