Greenwood’s Map

I’m a very excited Phantom today. Vicky has sent me the link to a fabulous Map of London from 1827, most generously hosted by Bath Spa University.

It was the result of a survey conducted by Christopher and John Greenwood between 1824 and 1826.

Even new editions of maps were notoriously out of date in those days, unscrupulous map-mongers just copying old versions – sometimes many years older and showing stuff that was long-gone, while, of course, failing to show newer buildings.

The Greenwoods were able to fund it by getting interested parties to subscribe, but money was always going to be an issue and the first edition had a few hiccups in delivery. The version Bath Spa’s got is one of the first edition versions. All the same it was much enjoyed – a critic was astounded to see “A map of London from an actual survey” – as opposed to being – well, made up, really.

We don’t really know what happened to the Greenwoods (brothers, presumably) but we do know they fell out with their publisher. They brought out a new, improved version in 1830 with a new publisher, but in the meanwhile a rival, one Mr Critchley, had rushed out a vastly inferior copy in 1828 to cash in on the excitement of a new map.

The map was reprinted several times during the early 19th Century, including in 1856, the final reprint, published by one W.H. Smith & Sons (BTW – did you know that the world’s second-ever W.H..Smiths was at Greenwich station?)

The map’s fantastic – and very easy to use. Not only that, it goes out further than many maps of the time, which usually end around Maze Hill. This one goes over as far as half-way across the Peninsula. It’s already answered one question of mine that I’ve been pondering some time (but that’s for another day) and it’s absolutely fascinating stuff. You can even print it off in sections.

While I was playing with the map, I found an even more esoteric but just as procrastination-worthy site – The Proceedings of The Old Bailey, one of whose pages uses the Greenwood Map. Hours of fun to be had reading about villains in YOUR street or neighbourhood…

Happy map-reading, folks…


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