Archive for the ‘Maps Old maps of Greenwich’ Category

The Ogilby Map

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

John Ogilby was a 17th Century printer, translator and cartographer who, like most 17th Century characters, seemed to have fingers in many pies. He published Wenceslas Hollar (whose pictures of Greenwich Palace are pretty much all we have to go on these days) but his translations were less enjoyed ┬áby some – he suffered the indignity of being lampooned by John Dryden and Alexander Pope – though it’s worth pointing out that both poets were also translators of the same classical writers themselves, so it’s possible they were just bashing the competition.

What Ogilby’s most famous for, though, is his 1675 map – the first British Road Atlas. It’s a charming series of line drawings (though a bit difficult to follow now as it used both standard and ‘local’ miles), many of which are by Hollar. And of course, the old Watling Street, the London to Dover Road, is one of the routes published.

Okay, so I was in Quinto’s basement (one of the Charing Cross bookshops) yesterday and I discovered a 1939 repro of the maps at a price I could do. Brilliant, I thought, flicking immediately to Plate 18.

It was only when I got home and read the little bookplate at the beginning, that I realised that this had more of a Greenwich connection than I first thought.

Ah, that’s lovely. But hang on. That signature. It looks like…blimey – yes it is. The fortieth anniversary this antique-book lover is referring to is that of Duckham’s oil and the signature is of Alexander Duckham, founder of the company in 1899.

And where did Alexander Duckham live? Vanbrugh Castle, of course – it still boasts a little sign of his tenure on the roof – the castle’s weather vane is in the shape of a duck.

It’s hardly surprising that a road enthusiast and early flying fanatic would be fascinated by the country’s first road atlas but I’m particularly delighted that, in the middle of the Phoney War, he thought to republish his favourite maps for the enjoyment of others.

So here, in the same spirit, I give you the London – Dover plate…

…and the bit that we’re most interested in.

Greenwood’s Map

Friday, July 11th, 2008

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…