During the Little Ice Age of the sixteenth to the nineteen centuries the River Thames occasionally froze right from bank to bank. Never ones to pass up a commercial opportunity the good folk of London decamped onto the ice to sledge, skate, roast oxen, play nine pins or drink coffee. The whole of London life was there and obviously maps and keepsakes were produced to mark the occasion. Mementos were even printed on the ice.
The maps produced at this time show quite an organised affair with rows of stalls and marked footpaths.
The first frost fair was in 1608, then 1683-84, 1715–16, 1739–40, and 1789 then the final one in 1814. The maps we hold date from the earlier fairs in the seventeenth century. This one is illustrative rather that truly accurate but encapsulate the holiday-like feel of the time.
We may never see the Thames frozen in London again so these are not only historical documents but images unlikely to be repeated.Gough Maps 21