Author Archives: stuart

To the readers hello

This remarkable early example of a town plan shows the French port of La Rochelle under siege in 1573.

During the French Wars of Religion La Rochelle had become a centre of Huguenot support, and was besieged by troops loyal to the Catholic Duke of Anjou. The siege was lifted in the year the map was made and La Rochelle became one of the few cities in France where Protestants were allowed to worship.

In the box in the top left, ‘Aux lecteurs salut’ (To the readers hello) the cartographer first claims he has made this map to meet the desire of the most curious, and then sets out what his map shows; the defences and how the rebels holding the city were besieged both from the land and the sea, the damage caused within the walls and the names of locations. The text ends by stating that the Royalist forces did not spare any lives or goods in order to deliver to the King victory, though the siege was lifted in June 1573 without outcome. The brief publishing information at the bottom of the map is intriguing. The text tells us it was made by F. Desprez in the Rue Montorgueil, Paris, there is then the words ‘au Bon Pasteur’ (the Good Shepherd or Pastor) which may relate to the fact that Desprez worked close to the Church of Saint-Eustache.

The map clearly shows the formidable fortifications La Rochelle had, full of thick and angled walls designed to deflect cannon fire and force attacking troops into narrow spaces easy to attack from the walls. More on this type of fortification and the beautiful maps that show them can be found here

The map publication date of 1573 means it is a very early example of a town plan held in the Bodleian. The earliest for Oxford is from 1578 (Ralph Agas, see an image here,). For London 1572, a map that comes from an atlas of town plans called Civitates Orbis Terrarum, an earlier blog post gives more information about this celebrated atlas here

Portraict de la Rochelle, & des Forteresses q les Rebelles y ont faict, depuis les p’miers troubles jusque á pňt. 1573. (E) C21:50 La Rochelle (1)

Why some maps lie and how they do it

Maps are 2-dimensional representations of a location, created by a cartographer, editor or publisher. Most are straightforward in that they portray accurately (hopefully) that area covered. Occasionally they mislead, either accidentally or deliberately. A misleading map played a part in one of the most famous and important events in World history. Christopher Columbus’s decision to sail west to reach the East Indies was partly due to a map in an atlas of maps by the Classical cartographer Claudius Ptolemy (c. 100-170). While this map was the most up to date

based on contemporary knowledge it  missed parts of the Earth as yet undiscovered by European explorers. Without the knowledge of a whole new continent in the west Columbus set sail hoping to find a new and quicker route to the East Indies but instead discovered the New World ( To read more about how the Bodleian’s copy of a Ptolemy atlas has an amazing connection with Columbus click here).

Another  intriguing example of misleading cartography is the representation of ‘Phantom Islands’ on maps. These are islands which for a number of reasons; low cloud, recording already surveyed locations as ‘new islands’  and mirages have all been the cause in the past, are mapped and then continue appearing on maps as cartographers use old information, until a new survey is made or a ship reports that the island doesn’t actually exist. The inset on the right is of a map made in 1710 of South America which features Pepys Island, named after the famous diarist who was also the Secretary to the Navy. Lying off the coast of Argentina  and first recorded in 1683. Pepys Island was shown  on maps for over 150 years until 1839, when was finally proved not to exist. This extract is from South America corrected from the observations comunicated to the Royal Society’s of London & Paris… by John Senex, which featured in a blog here

These are just a few examples of how maps can, without meaning to, lie (or, to be fairer, give incorrect information). There are a number of examples though of publishers deliberately making mistakes on their maps. Soviet-era maps intended for Western visitors were often  misleading to avoid Western states having accurate mapping of Soviet cities and towns. Some commercial publishers include false information amongst their maps to catch competitors out who have copied work without acknowledging or seeking permission, This is more common on street atlases, which is why the these false inclusions have the rather wonderful name of ‘trap streets’.

The reason for this long preamble is that, like other colleagues in the Map Room at the  Bodleian, i’ve spent a good part of the lockdown going through scanned images in folders and recording shelfmarks and other details (see the blog ‘Rummaging through virtual maps’ directly below). My work has involved working through the Bodleian’s trench and other maps of the First World War. These are amongst the most evocative of all the maps in the collection, full of names that for anyone interested in history are instantly recognizable; Mametz Wood, Passchendaele, the Somme, Messines and Vimy Ridge.  These are maps made for, and used in, the planning and carrying out of operations that in some cases cost the lives of thousands while making miniscule gains in land. But the reason for including these maps in this blog is that the more detailed trench maps, at 1:10,000 and 1:20,000 scales, ultimately, but necessarily, lie. For example take this extract of a trench map covering the French city of Lens.

The red lines to the right are the German front-line and support trenches, the blue lines are the Allied trenches (most trench maps only show the Allied front-line, it’s not often that you have so much Allied trenches shown in case the map was captured by the enemy). These trenches, the information relevant for the December 1917 date of the map, are overlaid onto a pre-war map showing what looks like a normal French city with railways, roads, houses and churches. In reality the city had been heavily bombed during the War with most of the buildings levelled, and the trenches were made out of the rubble caused by bomb damage.

A better example of the contradiction between map and ground can be achieved by comparing this map covering Chateau Wood with a photo of the same area. Chateau Wood is east of the Belgian city of Ypres and had been behind the German front-line until Allied advances towards the Passchendaele Ridge in the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917.

Hooge, 3rd ed, 1917. C1 (3) [1973]

 On the trench map the Wood has  field boundaries and tracks through the trees (Chateau Wood is east of Hooge in square 13, and can be seen in this extract). Compare the calm and ordered landscape portrayed on the map with the reality on the ground from this photograph of duckboard tracks going through the wood taken in October after advanced beyond the wood and beyond towards Passchendaele.

Ultimately though how do you map land like this which has had all recognizable features long-since destroyed and ground constantly altered by artillery fire? During major battles maps were produced on a regular basis to keep as up to date as possible with an ever-changing front-line, hard enough to do if just mapping the new positions of trenches, impossible to complete if you mapped each new shell crater or destroyed pill-box. To have vital and ever-changing information such as trenches and enemy positions printed over a landscape that was no longer there but was shown on pre-war mapping was, with the need for accurate and quickly produced maps, the only option, but by necessity a lie.

For more on trench maps and the Bodleian Library click here

The Devil’s what?

Herman Moll (c1654-1732) was a cartographer  who moved to London from north-west Europe in 1678. At first Moll worked for other established mapmakers as an engraver before setting up his own workshop making and selling maps. These images come from one of his most celebrated works, ‘A set of fifty new and correct maps of England and Wales’* published in 1724. The Bodleian has a number of copies of this work, some of which were in black and white with others hand-painted, these images come from one of the black and white editions.

Oxfordshire has two illustrations for Blenheim Palace, completed two years earlier in 1722, and one for the Rolle-Rich Stones (Rollright Stones), built considerably earlier at some point  between 2670 to 1975 BC. For those familiar with the Rollrights this is an image before restoration in the late 1800s which replaced a lot of stones broken up from the original circle, increasing the amount of stones in place. Next to the Rollrights is a mosaic from a Roman villa north of Woodstock.

One of the stranger illustrations found on any of the county maps is from the the West Riding of Yorkshire page, of the Halifax gibbet, which promises ‘according to the Halifax Law whereby they beheaded any one instantly‘. A ruling (the ‘Halifax Law’) that allowed the Lord of the Manor to execute thieves by beheading had been in place since the 1200s, and the gibbet was Installed at some point in the sixteenth century. A large number were executed under this law but it isn’t known how many were executed using the gibbet, which was dismantled after the the last executions in 1650 under instruction from Oliver Cromwell.

Moll had an obvious love of anything old, his county maps are filled with portraits of antiquities around the margins, and on his title page a note promises ‘to render this work more acceptable to the curious, the margins of each map are adorn’d with great varieties of very remarkable antiquities’. Roman coins and fossils, given all sorts of weird and wonderful names, feature prominently. On this half page of Wiltshire two views of Stonehenge are given. Both are a relatively accurate portrayal, something that earlier cartographers such as John Speed, hadn’t done, setting the great circle in mountainous countryside and making the stones look tubular (extract from Wiltshire, John Speed, facsimile (E) C17:61 (49), original map 1610).


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This last page is a map of the county of Derbyshire, parts of which have an underlying limestone bed, leading to numerous cave systems.

The Devil’s Arse is more commonly known now as Peak Cavern.

There is little in the maps in Moll’s book that make them any more special than similar atlases printed at the time. Few roads are shown, though those that do have distances between towns marked, and boundaries of the county hundreds are set out. What makes Moll special is the illustrations, historical portraits made to appeal to both the armchair traveller and any with an archaeological and scientific interest giving an idea of the unique features found in each of the counties.

*The full title is A set of fifty new and correct maps of the counties of England and Wales, &c. with the great roads and principal cross-roads, &c. Shewing the computed miles from town to town. A work long wanted, and very useful for all gentlemen that travel to any part of England. All, except two, composed and done by Herman Moll, geographer.

Allen 18

Sending cabbies in circles

Joachim Friederichs map of London takes an interesting approach to measuring distances. A series of circles covers the whole map, each one representing ½ a mile in diameter, making it possible, according to the cartographer, to ‘merely count the number of circles between one point and another you have at once the distance travelled’.

The Circuiteer, or distance map of London: invented by J. Friederichs, particularly adapted for cab conveyance c1850. (E) C17:70 London (359)

Measuring distances in maps is a long established practice; from simply putting in distances along roads from point ‘a’ to ‘b’ to concentric circles at a set distance radiating out from a central location to the scale bars and grids so familiar to us from our Ordnance Survey maps. With so many maps of London published Friederichs map stands out with it’s unusual approach.

As well as a distance guide the map serves as a proposal to right what the author sees as a serious case of wrong-doing, the over-charging by Hackney Carriage drivers. In text accompanying the map Frederichs writes ‘The monstrous imposition practised by Cab-Drivers upon the public have long been the subject of general complaint, but of all the plans hitherto suggested to remedy the abuse – and they have been many – not one has been found to ensure. The purpose the Circuiteer, or Distance Map, at least offers  a certain protection against such extortions, as the reader will be enabled to judge for himself, from the following concise explanation.’

The text goes on to give examples of proposed fares, considered reasonable, by mile as opposed to by route, and suggests the buying of pre-paid tickets instead of paying cab fares.

Hackney Carriage fares have featured on numerous maps of the City. This example, A new and exact plan of the cities of London and Westminster & the Borough of Southwark…whereunto are added the rates of Hackney Coachmen and watermen with several other embellishments. By Robert Sayer, 1775. (E) C17:70 London (72),  has, as well as a wonderful map of the City, a small box in the bottom corner giving a ‘Table of Rates’ at both a shilling and eighteen-penny and rates for the Thames watermen. The map also has insets of the major buildings and shows the Ward boundaries.

 

Centred

This style of mapping, to centre on a major city or town, was a popular form of cartography that dates back as far as the late 1600s (the earliest example in the Bodleian is a map showing the towns within a twenty-mile radius of London from c1686). Often produced within a circle the style had gone out of fashion by the mid-1800s with the arrival of detailed area maps such as the 1st edition of the 1″ Ordnance Survey.

This map of the country 11 miles around the city of Bristol‘ is an excellent example of the genre. It was made by the Devonshire map-maker and mathematician Benjamin Donn, who had moved to the city in 1764 and had set up a subscription to pay for the making of the map in 1767. There are a number of things of note on the map, not least the skill shown in the cartography and engraving (engraving done by the rather unfortunately named R. Coffin) . Market towns – such as Thornbury shown here – have the market days noted which would have been important as these towns were centres for the sale of local produce as well as a place for labourers to gain employment. With the collection of rents and tolls they were also a useful way for the host town to gather funds. Subscribers are named throughout the map at their place of residence, giving a wonderful connection to people alive in the area at the time, such as Mr. Stephens of Titherington. Rich subscribers often appear in a number of the maps of their area, a way not only of helping with the production of the item and hence adding to the knowledge of their location but also, literally, a way of putting yourself on the map. For instance, a Messrs  Hawkins and Harrington appear on our map of Bristol and also of a similar map for Bath (‘A map of 5 miles around the city of Bath’, 1771, (E) C17:54:15). 

Mr. Harrington was a descendent of Sir john Harrington, courtier to Elizabeth I, poet and inventor of the first flushing toilet, which was installed in Kelston Manor (Kelweston on the maps), while Mr. Hawkins was Sir Caesar Hawkins, one of the physicians to both George II and George III.

The map marks distances in miles along the important roads out of Bristol, industrial works and places of worship and has two insets, both intended to show off local landmarks. In the bottom right corner is a plan of the prehistoric Stone Circle at Stanton Drew, which is the second largest in the country after Avebury. With this plan Donn shows his mathematical skills, measuring accurately not only the diameters of the three circles but also the distances between them.

One of the most interesting things on the map though isn’t the most obvious. Tucked away under the legend is this seemingly innocuous note

highlighting the problems that any author had before strict copyright laws of losing sales to  poor imitations or downright plagiarism.

Another example of this type of map is this beautifully coloured map of London by John Fairburn (Fairburn’s map of the country 12 miles round London, 1800, (E) C17:40 (145)). Fairburn uses the same design as Donn, complete with illustrations

and like Donn’s map Fairburn’s is backed with cloth to strengthen the paper and avoid damage caused by folding. The London map is  a second edition though, the first proving popular, as well as profitable, enough to not need subscribers. And to finish, one further example of these ‘Centre’ maps, this time of Oxford by another Benjamin Donn(e), who despite the Jnr. was in fact the nephew of the B. Donn whose map is at the start of this blog (A new map of the country round the city of Oxford…c.1790. (E) C17:49 (78).

‘This map of the country 11 miles round the city of Bristol…’,  1769. (E) C17:31 (33).

 

A map, a view and an elevation

This beautiful map of the Teign Estuary incorporates three different ways to show off the new bridge across the river linking the village of Shaldon with the important Devonshire port and seaside resort at Teignmouth.

The bridge, completed the year before the map was published, was just over 1,670 feet long, making it the longest wooden bridge in the country at the time. A swing-bridge at the Teignmouth end allowed ships through to the estuary.

The map is a work of self-promotion, designed to show the route of a new road which had been proposed by Roger Hopkins, Civil Engineer and Mineral Surveyor, who designed and built the bridge and made the map. To show off Hopkins skills as an engineer and surveyor the bridge features prominently, not only on the map but both in a portrait

and then in profile; the former to show the beauty of the design within the context of the setting, the latter to show off the surveying and engineering skills of Hopkins.

In the title Hopkins reminds the viewer that it is he that ‘projected, designed and executed…’ the bridge and then goes on, as his ‘most humble servant’, to dedicate the map to the Duke of Clarence, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom. As can be imagined the Lord High Admiral was the head of the Royal Navy and the holder was usually drawn from the Royal Family (the current High Admiral is Prince Philip). Three years after the publication of the map the Duke of Clarence became William the IV.

By showing evidence of his surveying and engineering skills with the views of his bridge Hopkins sets out why he is qualified to propose his new road, despite there already being a road from Newton (now Newton Abbot) to Shaldon. Hopkins road would be far more direct, transporting the produce from the mills in the town to the port at Teignmouth. Despite the beauty and surveying and engraving skills on show Hopkins was ultimately unsuccessful, the road only existed on paper and twenty years later the railway came to South Devon, and Newton Abbot was linked to Teignmouth along the northern side of the Teign.

Map of the towns of Teignmouth and Newtonand the country lying between them, showing the advantage of a proposed… road… from actual survey made by R. Hopkins, 1828 (E) C17:25 (41)

I do here, good reader…

In a time of uncertainty here on Earth it’s reassuring to look to the heavens for a more stable  environment, one in which we can predict what will happen with remarkable accuracy considering the vast expanse of space. This amazing map, ‘A scheme of the Solar System with the orbits of the Planets and Comets belonging thereto, describ’d from Dr. Halley’s accurate table of Comets…founded on Sr. Isaac Newton’s wonderful discoveries, by Wm. Whiston, M.A.’ shows with a great amount of information how a complex system of orbits and planetary bodies  work together and present a predictable path through time and space.

A scheme of the Solar System with the orbits of the Planets and Comets belonging thereto, describ’d from Dr. Halley’s accurate table of Comets…founded on Sr. Isaac Newton’s wonderful discoveries, by Wm. Whiston, M.A., 1712, (E) A1 (3)

William Whiston (1662-1752) was for a time Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, and he also lectured on Natural Philosophy in London. He produced this map in 1712 with the noted map and globe maker John Senex to illustrate the course of comets as predicted in  work by Sir Edmund Halley and the ground-breaking work on planetary motion set out by Sir Isaac Newton.

The map shows the orbits of  ‘about twenty one known Comets…’.  according to Halley’s calculations (there are now over 3,000 recorded Comets in the Universe), the orbits of the Planets and, at the top, the relative size of the 6 known primary Planets and the Moon (the size of the Sun is represented by the outer circle of the map of the Solar System).

There is a remarkable amount of explanatory test on the map describing the six Planets and the ten secondary Planets (which we would know call the moons of the Earth, Jupiter and Saturn) and descriptions of the system of Comets and the Sun. Like all good exponents of a new theory Whiston makes a bold claim for his map at the start. ‘I do here, good reader, present thee with a scheme of the Planetary and Cometary World, part of which hath of late been called the Hypothesis of Pythagoras or Copernicus, but is now so certainly known to be the real system of nature that it ought no longer to have that uncertain title of hypothesis applied to it’. It’s amazing how many maps produced around the 1700 and 1800s include some form of claim such as this, or include in the tile ‘A new survey..’ or a variation on that phrase. The text goes on to acknowledge the size of the Universe and then ends with crediting the Creator, ‘As to the Fixed Stars, they are vastly remote from our Planetary and Cometary system but may perhaps every one be the center of another Solar System. Dr. Hook and Mr. Flamsteed think they have discovered their annual parallax and that is about 45″ which will imply there to be 900,000 millions of miles distance from our Sun; or according to Hugenius’s calculation in the like case much further than a bullet shot out of a canon could go in 100,000 years. But of such vast and numberless systems…we know very little, only so much we know of ye Planetary and Cometary World, and of the probability of Fixed Stars…as is sufficient to make us cry out with the Psalmist O Lord, how manyfold are thy works! In wisdom have you made them all!

Robert Hooke (1635-1703) produced most of the surveys of London after the Great Fire of 1666 and went on to try and measure distances to stars using parallax, which takes  the difference in angles of a measured distance seen from two different points. John Flamsteed (1646-1719) was the first Astronomer Royal and wrote star atlases and catalogues which were more detailed than any previously published. Hugenius is the Latin version of the name of the Dutch polymath Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), one of the leading scientists of his or any other age. One of Huygens many contributions to science was the discovery of Saturn’s ring system and the first of the Planet’s moons after making improvements to the telescope. Hooke and Halley were involved in a wager offered by no less than Sir Christopher Wren while the three were at lunch in 1683 to discover why the Planets orbited the Sun in an ellipse, and not in a circle as suggested by Copernicus. To find the answer Halley travelled to Cambridge to talk to Isaac Newton, at the time Lucasian Professor of Mathematics ( Whiston replaced Newton in the role in 1702). Not only did Newton have the answer to the question but following promoting by Halley wrote his findings up in one of the most important Scientific books ever written, the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, more commonly known by the first word of the original Latin title, the Principa. In  this book Newton set out his three laws of motion and explains how the orbits of the celestial bodies work and the nature of gravity. Newton’s ideas in the Principa and Halley’s work on comets are the key to Whiston’s map.

John Senex was a noted map and globe maker and uses text at the bottom of the map to promote his products, extolling the worth of his maps and globes while also warning of the inferior products made by others based on his work. There are two of Senex’s globes on display in the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room at the Weston Library (the globe of the heavens  is shown here), possibly the two mentioned in the text ‘ He maketh ye newest globes of 16. 12. & 3 inches diam. and has just finish’d in a most elegant manner a pair of 28 inches diam. fit to adorn public librarys, or of the librarys of the most curious’. Senex has featured on this blog before, first in a

piece about globes (http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/maps/2019/01/28/golden-globes/) and then, and more relevant to this piece in a post about a map of South America (http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/maps/2019/02/22/a-tale-of-two-maps/) which is dedicated to Halley and marks the point where, during a voyage to map the magnetic variations in the Earth, Halley’s ship the Paramore encountered ice for the first time. Halley then produced a map of the World with the variations shown, which would enable navigators to plot a correct course using a ship’s compass with corrections made according to the variation shown

Halley’s magnetic chart [a facsimile from 1870 of Halley’s  ‘New and correct chart shewing the variations of the compass, 1701] (E) B1 (382)

Mr. Gough’s map

The Gough Map of Great Britain isn’t just a treasure of the Bodleian map collection it’s a Bodleian treasure full-stop, and was one of the highlights of our recent map exhibition, Talking Maps, which closed a few weeks before the lockdown.

The map dates from c1390 and is the oldest surviving sheet map of the Country. It’s a manuscript, measuring 115 x 56 cm and drawn on two pieces of animal skin which have been joined together north of Hadrian’s Wall.

This extract shows the area between Hadrian’s Wall on the right and the join of lamb and sheep skin made to get the right sized piece of material needed to draw the map 

The map is orientated with east at the top (so Scotland is at the left and Wales at the bottom), which would have made a long piece of material easy to work on. There are over two hundred rivers shown, some prominently, and over six hundred towns, cities and settlements. The importance of York and London is highlighted with the use of gold leaf while red lines radiate out across the map,  possibly routes with roman numerals giving distances in old French miles. Scotland is poorly mapped, an indication that at the time Scotland was a foreign country, and one with which England was often at war. It is believed that a number of scholars worked on the map, over a considerable period of time, and that some of the earliest writing and work on the map is north of the wall. While Scotland is poorly depicted Calais, an English settlement following a successful siege by Edward III in 1346, is shown in great detail on the edge of the map, across the channel from Kent.

The map has recently undergone some research using 3-D scanning, hyperspectral imagery (gathering a greater amount of detail from across the spectrum than available to the naked eye) and Raman spectroscopy (the study of molecules within the material to get more information on the pigment used). One of the most startling discoveries during this study was the large amount of pin-pricks throughout the map, suggesting that part of it’s making involved laying an older map on top to trace coastal outlines and locations of places.

The name of the map comes from Richard Gough, a collector of prints, plans, maps, drawings and other ephemera that came to the library following Gough’s death in 1809. All we know about the map before this is that Gough bought the map at auction in 1774 for half a crown (12 1/2 pence). The Sheldon Tudor tapestries came to the library in this donation as well, we’ll blog these soon.

The Gough Map came at the end of a century that gave us the most celebrated Mediaeval world map, the Hereford Mappa Mundi.  While the Hereford map is based just as much on theological as well as topographical principles the Gough is purely a map for practical purposes, even if we now aren’t exactly sure what that purpose was, something the exhibition book for Talking Maps makes clear

‘Freed from the shackles of a Christian narrative, the Gough Map’s purpose was not to visualize a pathway through life in accordance with the teachings of the church, but to lead the way in a completely new cartographic direction which remains current in the twenty-first century, where geographical veracity and the primacy of relative position are foremost in the map-maker’s mind.’

There is an interactive web-site for the Gough Map here https://goughmap.uk/map.php

Work on the Gough Map has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, more information on what studies have taken place can be found here https://blog.history.ac.uk/2019/08/understanding-the-gough-map-the-application-of-physics-chemistry-and-history/

The Gough Map, c1390. MS. Gough Gen. Top. 16.

Drink up

Between July 2019 and this March the Bodleian put on a major map exhibition, Talking Maps, curated by Jerry Brotton and Nick Millea. With the World now spinning on a different axis we thought it would be good to relive some of the exhibition highlights and for the next few months staff will pick personal favourites to include in our Map Department blog.

It seems appropriate (or cruel, depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty) considering the lockdown to start with a map which deals with going to the pub. The Drink Map of Oxford is one of the most popular maps we have, it features in a lot of ‘show and tells’ map staff put on and was a popular subject during our lunch talks when the exhibition was on.

Drink map of Oxford 1883. C17:70 Oxford (7)

Over a simple skeleton plan published in 1883 the location of 319 pubs, breweries, beer houses and other licensed premises are shown using four different red symbols. Most pubs are on the main streets of the city (note how many are on the High Street for instance), while the breweries are close to the castle where there is easy access to water. Beer houses are where residents have applied for a licence to sell alcohol out of their houses to supplement income and are usually on side and residential roads, while other licensed premises are the Wine Merchants and groceries selling to the colleges and the public.

There are some intriguing aspects to this map. The first is the lack of University buildings shown, making this the only one of over 300 maps of the city held at the Bodleian with no hint of a University. There are a couple of reasons for this. Being a skeleton plan buildings aren’t included to keep the map as simple as possible (the railway is there as it is an important part of the city make-up, and also, more importantly, there is a pub in the terminal building as well). The second reason is that students weren’t allowed into the city pubs. Colleges would have had their own bars and some even brewed their own beers. Another aspect to the Drink Map is the wonderful irony in something which shows just where you can get a drink in Oxford but which is published by one a number of Temperance Societies in the city at the time, the rather grandly named Oxfordshire Band of Hope and Temperance Union. Temperance Societies were concerned about the problems alcohol was causing for the Working Class, causing problems such as poverty, crime, the breakdown of the family and church attendance. Text on the back mentions the effect of all this drinking in such a renowned city, ‘drunkenness abounds in our midst, and its attendant evils, crime and pauperism, are ever calling our attention. Can this be wondered at seeing we have up to three hundred places licensed by law for the sale of strong drink?’  The text goes on to make two claims about the city that don’t quite stand up too much investigation. The first is that the city is so overpopulated with drinking establishments that it has 50% more than any other comparable town. While there certainly is a lot in Oxford compared to now there was a lot everywhere. Post Office directories for towns such as Reading show similar numbers. The second claim is that the city magistrates come from the middle and upper class residents who tended to live in the north of the city, and while they were happy to give licences to places in the poor areas aren’t so keen to do so closer to home, hence the disparity between the north and other parts of the city on the map. Like the comparison with other towns this accusation doesn’t stand up when you use the directories. Kelly’s Post Office Directory for Oxford 1883 lists the names and addresses of the 16 magistrates in office for that year, with only a few living in the north of the city. Some magistrates live on the High Street while one even lives next to a beer house in St Clements. What is closer to the truth about the lack of pubs in North Oxford both then and now is that St Johns College owed most of the land and they were putting restrictions in place on the use of land in sale and leasing agreements which included the sale of alcohol.

There is an important companion to the Drink map that makes an equally strong social statement about Victorian Oxford. Dr. Acland’s map of major cholera outbreaks in 1832, 1849 and 1854 to

Map of Oxford to illustrate Dr. Acland’s memoir of cholera in Oxford in 1854… 1854. C17:70 Oxford (15)

accompany a report in 1854 is one of the earliest disease maps published in England. The map shows areas of poor or no drainage, the contaminated sections of river and the individual cases of outbreak and it is the areas of poor drainage that draw comparison with the Drink Map. The areas that feature strongest on the one map, the over-crowded working class districts of Jericho, St Ebbes, St Clements and Osney Island which are all heavily overlaid with red symbols are the same areas shaded to show areas of poor and no sanitation and drainage on the other.

The St. Ebbes area on both the Drink and Cholera maps. Most of this area has been redeveloped and is now the Westgate Shopping Centre.

These are two important maps of the history of the city, coming at a time when the population had grown considerably from the late 1790’s onward’s with the arrival of the canal, the move out of countryside by agricultural labourers following enclosure and the coming of the railway. This increase in population put pressure on the working-class areas with the inevitable problems highlighted in both maps; disease, poor housing, poor sanitation and over-crowding.

These are also wonderful maps full-stop. The cholera plots an illness which was for the time still hard to treat in a city using as their main source contaminated river water while the Drink Map is a serious attempt to highlight an important problem but now, without the social implications involved, looks like a Victorian version of a pub guide.

The art of the Ordnance survey

Sales catalogues aren’t usually the most visually interesting of things, often only giving a list of that years products. What raised up the catalogues of the Ordnance Survey between the wars is the art that illustrated these catalogues, art that was mirrored in the covers of the maps produced by the company.

The covers and art work inside are mainly the work of two artists, who were also responsible for a large number of the most iconic of OS map art. Arthur Palmer joined the OS in 1891 aged 16 and worked for the company until retiring in 1935. Initially employed as a photo-writer (a photo-writer took the negatives created from a draughtsman’s work and tidied up any damage caused by scratches and dust specks which could obscure names and features), then in the Publications division. Palmer was also a gifted artist, and his work features in a number of classic designs, including this cover for a 1″ sheet of Oxford from 1921

and this cover from one of the catalogues of the large scale mapping.

The second artist was Ellis Martin. Martin, unlike Palmer, was employed purely as an artist by the OS to design not just map covers but fonts, promotional material and even company Christmas cards. His designs were less romantic than Palmers and his pen and ink work in particular was of the highest quality, as can be seen by this image of a hiker studying an OS map, a regular feature of Martin’s work. The hiker appears in various guises and as fashions changed so did the image, with the more formal cap and boots of the 1918 designs being replaced by this more practical working attire in 1933. The hiker featured in one of Martin’s most famous covers, that of the ‘Popular Edition’ maps of the 1930s. The use of the hiker, outdoors and ready to walk, is important for a number of reasons. It gives not only an impression of the type of countryside featured on the map inside, even if that is an idealized view, but also is a selling point, this is the ideal map for this type of activity.

Martin’s cover for the 1923 small-scale map catalogue is at the start of this article. A typical Martin scene which evokes both a sense of time and place with a simple design. The lady standing at the back of the car is Martin’s wife, Mabel.

This is another example of a cover by Martin showing his design skills. There is a book on the open shelves in the Map Reading Room on OS art, Map cover art, G24 C16.13.