Category Archives: Cartography

Mapping Guyana

Earlier this month, the Map Room was visited by Christina Kumar; a cartographic advisor to the President of Guyana. Over several years, Christina has created a large and highly detailed map of Guyana, and kindly donated a copy to the Bodleian Library during her visit.

Christina Kumar presents the map to Map Curator Nick Millea

The map, more than 1.5 metres in length, provides a detailed picture of the country’s land cover at 1:600,000, as well as its settlements and transport infrastructure. Christina explained how GIS software had been used to process satellite imagery in order to produce a map of this intricacy; including its detailed insets showing oil, mineral deposits, and carbon density. The map also features an attractive street plan of the nation’s capital, Georgetown.

Administrative map of Guyana (2024), H10 (143)

The Bodleian already holds a substantial collection of maps of Guyana, particularly from the British colonial era which officially lasted from 1831 until independence in 1966. The area had previously been in Dutch hands since 1627, with the exception of short-lived periods of French and British occupation. As a result, our collection also includes French and Dutch maps of the region from the late 18th and early 19th centuries; each map a window on the various attempts to understand and control these northern shores of South America. The 1803 British occupation of the Dutch Colony of Berbice (Kolonie Berbice) proved to be longer-lasting, ultimately leading to the formal establishment of British Guiana.

We were happy to show Christina a sample of these European maps, including this Dutch map from 1802, the final year before British occupation. The map shows land holdings along the Berbice River, and features an imaginative cartouche depicting the region’s flora and fauna, perhaps with some artistic license. Christina noted that the cadastral land numbering system still remains in use today and that, with the exception of a few variations in spelling, many of the place names included on the map remain unchanged.

Karte van de Colonie de Berbice gelegen in Bats. Guiana in America (1802), (E) H10:2 (3)

Christina’s new map becomes the most recent addition to this cartographic timeline of Guyanese history; distinctive in its presentation of the nation through local eyes, rather than from a European perspective. In an era when Guyana’s natural resource management and relations with its South American neighbours are high priorities, the role of maps in understanding and administering territory remains crucially important.

The Summer Solstice

A short blog to mark a long day.

A curved line is a beautiful thing. Especially when it is both convex and concave, inward and outward, especially when it shows something as magical as the journey of the Sun across the Earth. This path is called the ecliptic. Today is the Summer Solstice*, the day of the longest amount of sunlight for those in the Northern Hemisphere. We blogged, here, about the Spring equinox, using a beautiful Dutch double hemisphere map of the World from an atlas by Claes Janszoon Visscher. In that blog we highlighted the straight line of the Equator, crossed by the Sun twice in a year to give us the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, days of equal day and night.

Planisphærium Terrestre sive Terrarum Orbis…from Atlas Minor by Claes Janszoon Visscher, c1705. Map Res. 85

Here we follow the curved line, showing the Sun’s journey through the Heavens, the ecliptic. When the Sun is at its most northern point, today, it reaches the Tropic of Cancer, and marks our Summer Solstice. It’s both obvious and amazing that it’s not the Sun though making this curved journey. The Sun stays where it is within the Solar System, even though, along with all the other objects in the Solar System we’re travelling at 450,000 miles per hour around the Milky Way. It’s the Earth that moves, tilting on it’s axis throughout the year and it’s this variation of tilt towards the Sun that produces this curved path in relation to the Earth, and from this our seasons.

Here’s a diagram from a 1909 edition of ‘Bacon’s popular atlas of the World’, showing the workings of the Solar System.  ‘Astronomical diagrams’ shows not only the seasons but also a  diagram showing the difference in the spread of the Sun’s rays at the two solstices,  a concentrated 15° on June 21st (or 20th in this year) and a wider and hence weaker 28° a the winter solstice. Surely this though depends on whereabouts on the Earth you are?

Bacon’s popular atlas of the World, 1909. G1.B1.52

Bacon’s atlas uses the Patent thumb-index,  which the publisher claims has been ‘invented specially for this work’.  Along the right-hand  edge of the atlas the margin gradually gets cut away as you journey through the atlas. This allows you, with a sliding motion up with your thumb,  to open up the atlas at any of the general maps you want, Africa for instance, and from there see a list of maps of Africa and the countries therein, followed by the country maps of that area.  Bacon promises, ‘This important improvement, it will be seen, has thus been effected without disfiguring the edge of the book’. Probably helps here to have reasonable finger-nails.

*This year’s solstice is the earliest since 1796. It’s because 2024 is a leap year, which means the solstice is 18 hours earlier than in a non-leap year. That it’s as early as it is is due to some complex maths based on  how the Georgian calendar tries to fit in leap years over the course of centuries.

Spring

Around this time we celebrate the Spring Equinox, an important point in the yearly calendar but also, marking as it does the change from Winter to Spring with the hope of better weather and more light, good for the soul. Both the Spring and Autumn equinoxes mark the point when the Sun’s path is directly above the Equator, giving equal amounts of daylight and night (the word ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin term Aequus nox, equal night). This double hemisphere World map comes from a Dutch eighteenth-century atlas* and shows the paths of the Equator and the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, when the Sun is at it’s highest point for Northern and Southern summer and winter solstices.

Planisphærium Terrestre sive Terrarum Orbis…from Atlas Minor by Claes Janszoon Visscher, c1705. Map Res. 85

The line of the Equator is described as ‘Æquator sive circulus æquidialis vulgo æquinotialis’  (‘Equator or equidistant circle’)

Here’s a page from a German atlas by the publisher Justus Perthes, circa 1910, explaining the way the movements of the Earth around the Sun (Erde und Sonne) create the solstices, equinoxes and seasons.

Page 2 from ‘Sydow-Wagners method. Schul-Atlas’ c1910. B1 (1745)

In Erde und Sonne different diagrams explain the journey of the Earth around the Sun, showing the tilting of the Earth on its axis that gives us the changing seasons. For the purposes of the blog figure 5 is the most important, Lauf der Erde um die Sonne (Erdrevolution), which shows the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. At the top is the Earth in relation to the Sun on the 21st of March, showing a perfect split between light and shade running from Pole to Pole,

This last third period of March has a number of ‘named’ and other important days. As well as the Equinox, the 18th of March, according to the Venerable Bede, was the first day of the Creation. This idea was due to Lady Day, the 25th, which was until 1751 considered the first day of the year. With the 18th being the first day of Creation it could then be worked out that, by a nice coincidence,  fours day later on the 21st the Sun, Moon and Stars were created, this is also St Benedict’s day. The 25th, Lady Day, marks the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, nine months later it will be Christmas.

Mary is an important figure in the history of navigation. She is the Pole Star, a constant in the night sky and is also the saint of Navigators and, most useful on a journey, the ‘Virgin of Good Winds’. This image of the Virgin and Child comes from an early Portuguese portolan chart of the Atlantic. The cartouche with Mary in the centre is located in North America, a guide to those making the perilous journey across the ocean to the New World. Circling Mary are the words to the prayer ‘Ave Maria’, a prayer no doubt uttered on many a dangerous moment on-board ships, ‘…pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen’.

[From an] Untitled portolan chart of the Atlantic, c1550 MS K1 (111)

*We have more than one edition of the Atlas Minor…, one edition uses gold-leaf at key points to highlight certain features, including appropriately enough, a Sun

 

Plane Globe, or, Flat Earth

Geographic depiction of the globe comes in several forms but this one is still a little unusual.  The Modern  Geography… a treatise on the newly-invented Plane Globe  contains essentially two cardboard hemispheres mounted as volvelles with accompanying text description and detailed instructions for use.  The maps are beautifully engraved and hand coloured, centred on the North and South Poles fixed with brass measuring rules.  Curiously for the time the measure is marked in centimetres rather than inches.

This plane globe was issued at a time when geography was emerging as an academic discipline, indeed the Royal Geographical Society had been founded less than a decade previously.  The volume was printed in Manchester in around 1839 by Bancks and Co. which was responsible for the impressive large scale Plan of Manchester and Salford (1832).

The globe form was considered the ultimate in geographical aids so that students could fully understand spatial relationships and had a part to play in instructing astronomers and navigators, however they are bulky and unwieldy. To overcome the problem of portability, convenience and legibility ‘Inventor’ Joseph Bentley has devised what he describes as a ‘Plane Globe’ as a device for learning, as he says on the title page “… for the student, the man of business, and all classes who wish to know something of the world we live in; …”.  The Modern Geography was reviewed in The Spectator (vol.12, June 29, 1839) who were rather impressed

“…is clear and comprehensive; containing an immense amount of statistical and other useful information, packed into a close compass, and so well arranged that individual facts appertaining to any country are easily ascertained: for instance, the latitude and longitude, population, products, and manufactures of every chief town in the world. The topography of the British Isles is still more fully and minutely described: the boundaries and extent of each country – the population, constituencies, and parishes – the average rent of and per acre, the ratio of crime and instruction, and the average amount of productions – are stated. The general account of the different states and kingdoms, though concise, is lively and pregnant with matter. In a word, the publication is a complete multum in parvo of ‘Geography and the use of the Globe.”

The hemispheres are attached to the boards with beautifully illustrated figures in the corners including an orrery and a telescopic view of the moon. The Plane Globe is bound in square quarto, quarter red morocco with green cloth covered boards and black paper title label to upper board.  When the volume arrived in the library as part of the copyright intake it was one of the last books placed in the ‘Med.’[Medicina] classification which is one part of the Bodleian four-part classification. In the later years the distinction by faculty began to be disregarded, and books were added where there was space on the shelves, accounting for this rather anomalous shelfmark.

 

Not a lot is known about Joseph Bentley himself but there is mention of the availability a celestial plane globe but none seems to have survived. The Modern Geography was later issued without the globe element so the lack of further editions of this work and the high price it probably means it was not a commercial success.

 

Bentley, Joseph. Modern geography, for the student, the man of business and all classes who wish to know something of the world we live in; … Manchester, [1839]  4° P 40 Med.

Bentley, Joseph. Modern Geography : for the student, the man of business, and all classes who wish to know something of the habitable globe; … Manchester, [1839]  [Without plane globe] S 748 (Buxton Room)

A fiery map for February

This has to be one of the most dramatic items in our collection, a beautifully illustrated manuscript map of a naval engagement during the Napoleonic Wars. The French Republic had persuaded the Ottoman Empire to deny passage to the Dardanelles to the Russian navy, allowing only French warships through the straits. The Russian declaration of war to Turkey brought Britain into the conflict as a Russian ally. British naval vessels were sent into the Dardanelles on the 19th of February 1807 to force a passage into the Sea of Marmara, the action so vividly portrayed in the map.

The British Squadron under the command of Vice Admiral Sr. John Thomas Duckworth, K.B., forcing the passage of the Dardanelles, on the 19th of February 1807.  1807, MS D30:24 (12)

There is topographical information along the shore-line and in the lay-out of Turkish defences but the ships have a pictorial feel to them, and the angle of depiction is different for the two elements on show. There is a list of the ships of the line, both British and Turkish as well as information on the strength of defences and description of the damage caused to the Windsor Castle. A note at the bottom states that the ‘Circumference of the Marble Shot which entered the side of the Windsor Castle, and wounded her main mast, is 6 feet 11 inches, Weight Eight Hundred and Four Pounds’, which seems an incredibly large piece of shot. The damage that this type of artillery can cause to the crew isn’t mentioned but you can get an idea when you look into the life of Sir john Thomas Duckworth, K.B, Second in Command of the Mediterranean Fleet’. Born in 1748 Duckworth joined the navy at 11 and had a long and distinguished naval career. During one naval battle he was concussed when hit by the head of a sailor struck off by a cannonball.

The Dardanelles are more famous for another military operation, the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War. The Bodleian holds a large amount of mapping for Gallipoli; British, Turkish and commercial newspaper maps. Shown here are British War Office maps, the first highlighting the forts along the coast while the second is a more detailed map of the area. The opposing towns of Chanak Kale and Kilid Bahir in this map are the castles of Abydos and Sestos in the 1807 map.

Map of the Peninsula of Gallipoli and the Asiatic Shore of the Dardanelles, 1908, D30:3 (20) [283]

Gallipoli – scale 1:20,000 Chanak, 1915, D30:3 (20) [415]

The more detailed map would have been used for observation. There’s an intricate grid over the topographical information shown, each numbered large square is split up into 25 lettered squares (the e not used) and then in each of these smaller squares there are 9 dots, which in the top left of the smaller squares in each large square are numbered, like this.

Using a combination of the three different characters would give a very accurate field position for artillery and other purposes.

Finally one of numerous maps created by newspapers to illustrate news reports on the campaign. This is a particularly fine example of a pictorial map, and shows the area at the entrance to the Dardanelles.

“The Graphic” map of the Dardanelles Operations, c1916, D30:24 (3)

The Duckworth map is similar to another held in the collection, by the diarist John Evelyn. Evelyn was reporting back to his friend Samuel Pepys, who at the time was an administrator in the Navy, about a battle in the River Medway. More on this fascinating story can be found in an earlier blog and more on Gallipoli can be found here

The map’s intention is a mystery. The Bodleian doesn’t hold a printed version so it is unlikely to have been made for publication. The map could, with its accurate depiction of the action and the level of information given, have been made for a report or a record of events. Whatever the reason, we’re left with a dramatic and intriguing document of a relatively unknown part of one of the more famous conflicts in history.

…made by English, or strangers.

The terrestriall Globe is defined to be a sphericall body, proportionably composed of Earth and Water: into which two parts of it is divided. Whereof the Earth comes first to view, whose parts are either reall, imaginary, and the reall parts, either continents, islands…

A new and accurate map of the World*…1641. (E) B1 (420)

William Grent made the first version of this beautifully elaborate and descriptive double hemisphere World map in 1625. Little is known about Grent and there are no other listings for any work apart from his World map, which went on to be copied and improved on a number of times. John Speed used it as the basis for his World map published in his ‘A Prospect of the most Famous Parts of the World’ atlas a year later while Thomas Jenner, publisher, bookseller and engraver, produced copies in 1632 and, the date of this copy, 1641.

It is a map so full of information, iconography and allegory that it is hard to know where to start. It may not be the best topographically – it’s one of the first to show California as an island despite numerous examples both before and after showing the location as a peninsula – but is still full of useful information about places. ‘At the Cape of Good Hope all that passe to and from the East Indies ancour to take in fresh vittaile and meete newes one of another affaires’  (a blog about ’rounding the Horn’ can be found here) and in another part of the map we’re told that ‘This south land undiscovered commonly known as Terra Australis…can not certainly be affirmed…only some few coasts thereof have appeared to sea men driven there upon by extremity of weather…’

But it’s the information that surrounds the globes as well as the text that make this map special. Want to see how eclipses work? Here’s both the Moon and the Sun , while diagrams in the top

left and right corners show the days and months and the position of the Sun during the year  and the Planets respectively while in the middle are northern and southern zodiac

hemispheres. At the bottom there’s an armillary sphere, for the plotting of celestial objects, and either side of the sphere are the figures representing Geography holding a compass and a map and wearing a dress appropriately with a landscape scene, and Astronomy, identified by the star necklace and the cross-staff in hand (a cross-staff would be used in navigation to measure stars or the Sun against the horizon to try and gauge latitude).

Most intriguing is the scene to the right of the zodiacs. This vignette states that ‘Peace is the nurse of science, and these the means to attaine it’. These means are Desire, Diligence and Observation, and set around the group are measuring and surveying instruments while Peace

holds the olive and palm branch associated with that figure. Peace signifies the conditions needed to do science, the quietness to observe, the lack of threat to survey, measure and explore and the desire to achieve all of these.

While all these parts of the map can be viewed as individual decoration when seen together they show how much a map based on science Grent’s work is, and this is something that the accompanying text based on the Earth and its climates, zones and divisions as well as the writing at the side on the heavens and measuring time amplifies. This becomes more striking when you compare the text to that accompanying the map in Speed’s more well-known ‘Prospects…’. In this Speed talks about the Earth according to how God’s creation has set it out. Compare the opening sentences of the section on geography on Grent’s map at the start of this blog to Speed’s, ‘Heaven was too long a reach for man to recover at one step. And therefore God first placed him upon the Earth, that he might for a time contemplate upon his inferior workes, magnife in them his creator: and receive here a hope of a fuller blisse, which by degrees he should at last enjoy in his place of rest’.

There’s a suitably grand title befitting such a map. ‘A new and accurate map of the World drawne according to the truest descriptions, latest discoveries, and best observations, that have beene made by English, or strangers, with briefe and most plaine notes upon the whole body of Cosmographie for the easie understanding thereof. Pleasant and usefull for all such as desire to know further than of their owne home. ‘A new and accurate map…’ are words that often appear on maps of this time (Speed copies the first part of the title exactly) which sort of makes such a claim redundant, it’s the ‘…by English, or Strangers…’ part that stands out. Grent not only includes the pictures of four circumnavigators; Thomas Cavendish, Francis Drake (both English), Ferdinand Magellan (Portuguese) and Oliver van der Nort (Dutch) he also uses information provided by both Spanish for the central, southern and western parts and the English and French for the north-eastern parts of America and Dutch cartography for the East Indies. Hence the ‘English or Strangers’ part.

Finally, and somewhat ironically, the dedication. ‘To the Right Hon.ble Henry Mountage, Baron of Kimbolton, Viscount Maundeville…’ Montague was, amongst other things, a close confident of Charles I, Lord Privy Seal, judge, politician and the 1st Earl of Manchester. The irony comes from being dedicatee of a world map which deals with, and is partly based on the recent major discoveries and explorations, while being the judge who condemned Sir Walter Raleigh, one of England’s leading Elizabethan explorers, to death seven years before Grent’s map was published, in October 1618.

*Apologies, this isn’t the easiest map to get an image from. There’s only one copy in the Bodleian and it’s been enclosed in a Melinex sleeve for protection which causes light to reflect off and doesn’t give that clear an image.

A plan of the River Calder…

This map shows that, leading up to and during the Industrial Revolution, the improving of rivers for navigation went in tandem with the more celebrated building of canals. The noted engineer and surveyor John Smeaton (1724-1792) has made a map of part of the River Calder from just south of Halifax to Wakefield, listing along the route with variations of capital and lowercase letters the owners of the land,  the places marked for some form of navigational work (mainly locks and bridges) and mill owners.

A plan of the River Calder from Wakefield to Brooksmouth and from hence to Salter Hebble Bridge, laid down from a survey taken  in October and November 1757, with a projection for continuing the navigation from Wakefield to Salter Hebble Bridge near Halifax in the County of York by John Smeaton. 1757. (E) C17 (451) [17]

The whole amounts to a beautifully drawn and engraved map of the river at the start of the Industrial Revolution, and, with it’s listing of owners of lands and mills, a nice glimpse into Yorkshire life around 1757, a glimpse increased by the depictions of the towns and villages along the way, including the important wool town of Halifax. The map is both a plan of the river and a proposal for changes to the river to aid navigation, hence the claiming to be both a map of the river from Wakefield of Salter Hebble Bridge as well as a ‘projection for continuing the navigation…’ between the two. It’s nice to be able to note that the instrument maker Jesse Ramsden was born in Salter Hebble (now Salterhebble Bridge and part of Halifax) in 1735. Ramsden made the theodolite used by General Roy in the triangulation of Britain.

The left and right of the map in more detail.

The way the Calder links up with the other river and canal systems in the area can be seen on this map.

With A map of the existing navigations of Yorkshire… from 1819 ((E) C17:63 (31)) all the smaller rivers merge with larger waterways, eventually joining the Humber and from there the North Sea. The industrial importance of the area can be seen by the reference to local industry; coal, iron, waste, lime and chace (a form of metal working) and the map is, like the main map in this blog, a proposal for a new waterway, in this instance the Went Canal, though a proposal that seems not to have come to anything as the Went doesn’t appear on subsequent Ordnance Survey maps.

Smeaton was an important figure in the history of surveying and engineering. Born in Leeds in 1724 after working in law and as an instrument maker by the time of this map he was working on the use and working of watermills. This led to the creation of an equation named after him, the ‘Smeaton coefficient’ which dealt with the power of wind and water to turn wheels in mills, and was used by Orville and Wilbur Wright when they designed and flew the first motor-driven aeroplane, the Wright Flyer, in 1903.

Smeaton’s fame is based on a large number of civil engineering works, including the third Eddystone lighthouse, numerous bridges including those over the Tweed, Perth and Hexham as well as a number of harbours, including this one at Ramsgate, from a map made by Smeaton a few years before he died.

Plan of Ramsgate Harbour and principal works thereof 1790. (E) C17 (451) [63]

The two maps by Smeaton come from a volume of plans and maps of English navigational waterways spanning two hundred years, from the early 1600s to the early 1800s. The collection has the rather appropriate overall title of ‘The Cutt’.

A horse?

Chalk figures on hillsides are not uncommon especially in southern Britain but they still retain the air of mystery. What are some of them?  Who created them? Why are they there? They also caused an issue on maps.  Early modern cartographers drew maps but out of necessity gathered information from other surveyors. This is where errors crept in.  Imagine an surveyor of the Berkshire Downs at Uffington saying “well, there’s this white horse on the side of the hill”.  The prehistoric ‘horse’ famously does not look like a horse therefore the misunderstandings can be seen as a result, most notably the Sheldon tapestry map of Oxfordshire which has a truly majestic (and enormous) white horse striding over the side of the hill.

 

 

Richard Hyckes who designed the tapestry was not to know the reality was rather different.

 

 

 

 

The error was repeated by John Rocque albeit with a more modest horse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t until the Ordnance Survey surveyed the country was the Uffington White Horse depicted as it truly is.

 

 

 

 

The Cerne Abbas Giant is actually a giant cut into the chalk of Dorset, rather a famous one. He is  younger than the horse but his beginnings are still shrouded in mystery but possibly something to do with former Cerne Abbey nearby. For some reason he was only represented as lettering by Isaac Taylor 1765.

However, the Ordnance Survey somewhat sanitised him when the 25” was published in 1888.

The Long Man of Wilmington in East Sussex was not so problematic, so much so that he didn’t appear at all until the OS came along. The map by Thomas Yeakell and William Gardner (1778-1783)  ignores him completely – whether they were unaware of the chalk figure or merely swerved the opportunity of representing it history does not tell us.

 

Sheldon tapestry map of Oxfordshire  [1590?] (R) Gough Maps 261

John Rocque. A topographical map of the county of Berks (1761) Gough Maps Berkshire 6

Ordnance Survey 2nd edition 1:2500 Berkshire XIII.14 1899

Isaac Taylor. Dorset-shire. 1765 Gough Maps Dorset 11

Ordnance Survey 1st edition 1:2500 Dorset XXXI.2 1888

Thomas Yeakell, William Gardner. The county of Sussex. 1778-1783. Gough Maps Sussex 14

Ordnance Survey 3rd edition 1:2500 Sussex LXVIII.15 1909

Urbs in Rure

In the mid-nineteenth century Oxford was still a small town dominated by the University but surrounded on three sides by water which had the effect of curtailing expansion of decent housing but by 1850 a series of circumstances led to the development of the North Oxford suburbs, in the St Giles parish. The population of the town grew sharply between 1821 and 1841, the Great Western Railway arrived in 1844 and, later in the 1870s, University fellows were allowed to marry thus leaving their college lodgings to live nearby. St John’s College owned a large tract of land, known as St Giles Fields which it had acquired in 1573 from George Owen, physician to Henry VIII to the north of the town. The middle class of professionals with disposable wealth were growing, housing was required so the time was ripe to develop this land.

The first attempt came in 1852 when architect Samuel Lipscomb Seckham (who went on to built Bletchley Park) was asked by the College to submit drawings for a new suburb to the north of the town. This terraced crescent of handsome Italianate houses with communal garden, rather in the style of Bath, became Park Town, the earliest planned development in Oxford.

This was the forerunner to the later developments of Walton Manor and Norham Manor. Once again Seckham produced this drawing for the what was to be called Walton Manor. As you can see most of the large villas are in his preferred Italianate style except for one which oddly shows elements of Victorian Gothic. This was not as successful with only one of the residences being built – still currently at 121-123 Woodstock Road.

The Walton Manor estate plan was revived in 1859 with Seckham still in charge but with the plan considerably changed. The following year an adjoining piece of land was offered for sale to become the Norham Manor estate by St John’s College. Initially Seckham was to manage both estates but William Wilkinson an architect from an auctioneering family of Witney, nearby, was awarded the supervision of Norham Manor. Wilkinson’s practice was prospering but involved church restorations and work for the rural gentry on domestic and agricultural buildings rather than villas and terraces.

His vision for the estate can be seen clearly from this view which was painted by him in c.1860. In this incredibly detailed watercolour you can see it has been conceived as a gated community of large suburban villas for the wealthy middle classes. By the mid-1860s Wilkinson had taken over the whole of the North Oxford suburb development and was building his pièce de resistance, the Randolph Hotel (1862-64). This Oxford landmark is still standing in its Gothic splendour.The large individual residences of both Norham Manor and Walton Manor were largely complete by 1870 so attention was turned to the smaller semi detached and terraced houses which give the area its character today. However, not everyone was a fan – Thomas Sharp of Oxford Replanned (blog here) felt the area was an ‘architectural nightmare’.

The spread of development can be seen clearly in the map record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ordnance Survey 1st edition 25” Oxfordshire XXXIII.15 1876
Bird’s eye view of the Walton Manor Estate [1854] C17:70 Oxford (103)
Proposed Norham Manor Estate [c.1860] MS. Top. gen. a. 22
Plan of an Estate called Park Town [1853] C17:70 Oxford (30)
T. Jeffreys. Plan of the university & city of Oxford 1767 Gough Maps Oxfordshire 17
Alden’s new plan of the city and University of Oxford 1888 C17:70 Oxford (5)
Plan of Oxford 1902 C17:70 Oxford (6)
Plan of the city and university of Oxford [1949] C17:70 Oxford (36)

Obscured by clouds

It is hoped that the work now offered to the Public, will be found to rank among those which convey to the reader, at once, their plan, and in these, their own recommendation’.

If ever the introduction to an atlas sounded like the start of a Jane Austen novel it’s Edward Quin’s fascinating ‘An historical atlas in a series of maps of the World as known at different times…A general view of universal history from the creation to A.D. 1828′, published in 1830. Quin’s atlas shows the geographically known extent of the World (to Europeans) in a series of 21 maps, starting with the deluge in 2348 B.C. and ending with the General Peace of 1828.

The Deluge, from Edward Quin’s An historical atlas…1830. 2023 b.9

The beauty of Quin’s atlas comes from this sense of mystery achieved by revealing the known parts of the World according to the period of the map, with the rest of the World covered by thick, dark billowing clouds. With our knowledge of the World growing with each map the clouds withdraw a little further and more of the World is revealed. The engravings were by Sidney Hall, and as can be seen by this extract from the Deluge map Hall was a skilled engraver. Hall’s life and work in cartography is a fascinating story in itself, as when he died his wife carried on his work. To read more about Hall and his wife Selina see an earlier blog here.

The way the areas shown on the maps advance with each period can be seen in this map.

We are now in the eighth period, From the birth of Christ, to the death of Constantine, A.D. 337′ . By this point the World as was known had grown considerably. While the atlas is very much an European view of the World Quin does highlight non-European empires, with the Chinese and Indian Empires all appearing in this map. The Islamic Empire first appears on the twelfth, ‘From the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, A.D. 476, to the death of Charlemagne, A.D. 814′, which is shown below

But Quin is very much a product of his time. The World starts not in the deep geological past, a theory recently introduced by, amongst others James Hutton in a two volume work published in 1795 (title page from first edition shown) but with the Creation (‘As to the origin of the Earth we should be entirely ignorant, had we not the aid of the Holy Scriptures’), with the earth populated from the ‘parents of mankind’, Adam and Eve. This basing of knowledge on religious belief continues with the next map, which goes forward to the exodus of the Israelites in 1491 B.C. It’s not till the fourth map, showing the World between the foundation of Rome and the death of Cyrus that that we move away from the Bible and start to see the classical authors as the source of information.

From the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, A.D. 476, to the death of Charlemagne, A.D. 814′.

The last map to show the World with any cloud still covering unknown parts is this, from the eighteenth period, ‘From the death of Charles V. of Germany, A.D. 1558, to the restoration of the Stuarts in England A.D. 1660’. 

Despite exploration into and across the Pacific by, amongst others, Magellan, there is still cloud cover over the margins of the Earth, it would take the next map, ‘A.D. 1783, Independence of the United States’ before the World was revealed in full.

Quin wasn’t the first to create an atlas in this way, with earlier examples from Germany but Quin’s was the more famous, and certainly better illustrated. Later editions used Hall’s engravings at the start but soon these were replaced by a less-effective hemisphere based World view, you can see this online here Search Results: All Fields similar to ‘An and Historical and Atlas and Quin’ – David Rumsey Historical Map Collection