Ogilby and Morgan’s Map

Above: Small scale representation of the whole map. Details easy to identify are – Lincoln’s Inn Fields on the far left (with High Holborn above them and Strand below). St Paul’s Cathedral towards the centre. Part of London Bridge is shown at the bottom of the map. The Tower of London is shown in the bottom right-hand corner.

This is one of the important maps of London, made just after the Great Fire of London (1666) and published in 1677. Its name relates to two men – John Ogilby and William Morgan. John Ogilby was born about 1600 and did not turn his attention to surveying until he was aged 66 years when he secured the appointment as ‘King’s Cosmographer and Geographical Printer’. He died in 1676, a year before his map was published. He was assisted in producing the map by William Morgan, his wife’s grandson. Most of the actual engraving of the map was carried out by Wenceslaus Hollar.

It is essentially a map showing the City of London, with the streets and houses shown rebuilt by 1676. The original is an enormous map, printed on 20 sheets, forming a map about eight feet wide and four feet high when the sheets are laid out. The whole map features the title along the top, the City arms and a dedication to the Lord Mayor, the Aldermen and Sheriffs of the City. When first published, it was the first accurate and detailed map of the City of London, with all the buildings represented in plan rather than a bird’s-eye-views. For accuracy and detail, the map is unrivalled, particularly bearing in mind that it was produced at the early date of the mid-17th century.

For those who study the City of London – including historians and archaeologists alike – the map is probably one of the most important of all the maps produced up to this date. The early 16th century maps are useful but all the details appear as a bird’s-eye-view which does not help in establishing the exact scale of a building. The Ogilby and Morgan map was carefully surveyed and, therefore, acts as the first accurate record of the dimensions of the streets and buildings in and around the City.

In passing, it should be mentioned that there is also another much smaller scale map of the City of London, showing the extent of the Great Fire of London. The map was made by John Leake but the engraving for printing the map was also made by Wenceslaus Hollar.


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Maps of London (Background Page)

Until printing presses were invented, any map or book was completely hand-produced. This meant that only one copy was made. For another copy to be made, the whole book or print had to be laboriously copied by hand. It is usually claimed that the printing press was invented by Gutenberg, in Germany, in 1450. The production of maps of London as engravings (that could be printed and therefore easily duplicated) did not happen until about 1550. Production was probably small – maybe only 100 or 500 copies being produced. The market for the printed maps was small because so few people could read. Most publications were purchased at great cost by royalty, noblemen and very wealthy merchants to add to their own personal libraries.

Today, many of those printed maps only exist in very small numbers. For example, only three copies are known to exist of the Agas woodcut map of London. Most of the early maps are now owned by museums and reference libraries. Thanks to many modern publishers taking the initiative, some of these priceless works are now available as facsimile copies on paper. In many cases, the maps are also reproduced on various Websites to be viewed on the Internet.

To obtain a better understanding of London and its history, it is essential to become acquainted with London’s maps. Many versions have been produced showing the City of London. Others show the many parishes and liberties in and around the City. By the middle of the 19th century, Ordnance Survey maps were being produced and they continue to be published right up to the present day. In the case of Ordnance Survey maps, some have really large scale maps at 50 inches to the mile which record every post, lamppost and tree in every street and park are shown on the map.

The more important maps of London each have separate pages on the Website, showing a small version of the map and providing a brief description. They start with 16th-century maps (known as bird’s-eye-views) and a selection of maps for the following centuries will be added in due course. The list includes – maps, bird’s-eye-views and panoramas of London.

A list of all related pages can be found under –
Subj_Maps of London
which is in the Categories list on the right-hand side of this page.


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Magazine 05

Today a new members magazine is published. You can find it below as a pdf which makes it easy to download and store for future reference. The magazines are not kept on the Website. This one will be available to download for two weeks and then it will be deleted.

It is to be hoped that the information the new magazine contains is of use to those who follow this Website.


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Copper Engraving Map

Above: An overlay made by the Museum of London for an exhibition of the three Copper Engravings in the 1990s. Photocopies (in black and white) for each of the three copper engravings were overlaid onto an enlarged copy of the Braun and Hogenberg map. The top copper engraving shows Moorfields. The plate below shows Bishopsgate and the plate on the left has St Paul’s Cathedral at the centre. Along the bottom of the two lower sheets is shown the City bank of the River Thames.

If you think that London’s history is so old that all of it must be already known by now, you are sadly mistaken. Archaeologists are still making discoveries about Romans, Saxons and Tudors when new sites are excavated in London, even though we are so many centuries away from those times. This is also true for documents, prints, maps and books relating to London. Every now and then a new work is discovered or a new map is found and another step forward is made relating to the capital’s history.

This is the story of how a new map of London was discovered as recently as the 1960s. The forerunner of the Museum of London was a smaller collection known as the London Museum. It was visited in 1962 by a member of the public who owned a very unusual oil painting. Instead of being painted on a canvas was painted onto a sheet of copper and was in remarkably good condition. What made it unusual was that on the other side of the copper sheet (which was about 20 inches by 15 inches in size) was an engraving that was obviously part of a very large map. The London Museum looked at the map are immediately recognised it as being part of London, just north of the Roman Wall in the area of Moorfields (now known as Finsbury Circus).

There was great excitement at the time in the museum because it was a map that was completely unknown. It is unlikely that the map had been seen since it was made in the 16th century. Closer examination revealed that the map was very similar to the visual representation shown on both the Agas map and the Braun and Hogenberg map. The museum published a monograph about the unusual find which included pictures of the whole map and enlargements of various parts of it. By chance, a copy of the monograph found its way to another household that also had a copper engraving of similar size showing the City. After contacting the London museum, it was discovered that the second copper plate was another part of the same map on the reverse of a painting. Better than that, the second copper plate was the continuation of the first copper plate. This map shows the City just south of the Roman Wall, around Bishopsgate and continues south to the Thames.

The museum estimated that the whole engraved map had been made from possibly 24 copper plates – probably six horizontally and four vertically. The story went out across Europe just in case any archivist recognised the description of the copper plates and had any of a similar type in their collections. The trail went cold for several years and nobody reported having any plates matching the two already found. During the 1990s a German museum found a similar copper plate and contacted what was then the Museum of London. Yes, the plate was one of the same set of plates and remarkably it matched along the left side of the lower plate. It showed more of the River Thames and in the centre was drawn the old St Paul’s Cathedral (the one destroyed in the Great Fire of London).

Mathematically, the chance of finding three sheets – all touching – in a set of maybe 24 sheets in total is extremely long odds. In case you are wondering, no more copper sheets have been found since the 1990s but the search continues. We all live in hopes!

Because nobody knows the originator of the map and also because it has no official title, it is simply known as the Copper Engraving map. It is very large scale and being a copper engraving means that the detail is really large and very detailed. Studies have revealed that the Copper Engravings were probably made about 1550. Additional studies have also revealed that the Copper Engraving was the source map from which both the Agas map and the Braun and Hogenberg map were copied. When one schoolboy copies the homework from another boy, the schoolteacher usually knows who did the copying because there are often copying errors. Similarly, it is possible to deduce that there are copying errors on the two later maps when compared with the original Copper Engravings.

It has been a long-running story of discovery – from the 1960s to the 1990s – and the hope is that some of the other copper sheets may be discovered one day. Because two sheets were found in England and one in Germany, it is believed that the sheets are now distributed over a very large area. How many remain to be found is something that we are all anxious to hear about!


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Braun and Hogenberg Map

Above: Small version of the Braun and Hogenberg map.

The Braun and Hogenberg map of London was published in a large book of maps of many of the cities around the world. The town atlas eventually became six volumes and is generally known as the ‘Civitates Orbis Terrarum’ by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg. However, the title only refers to the first part which was published in 1572 by Filips Galle in Antwerp and Cologne.

The single-page map, showing a bird’s-eye-view of London, is on one of the pages in that publication. It is generally known as the Braun and Hogenberg map, made originally in black and white but there are also several versions of the same map with colour added. It covers much the same area as the Agas map but whereas the Agas map shows London in perspective, the Braun and Hogenberg map is in plan form. Comparing the two maps, they look very similar and close inspection reveals that they show detail as if one was copied from the other. This is, in fact, the case but one mapmaker did not copy the other. It is now known that both of them were copied from an even larger map – known as the Copper Plate map – which is described in a separate blog.

The Braun and Hogenberg map is a single sheet, about A3 in size (to use a modern paper size). Although the map is much smaller than the Agas map there is just as much detail, if not more than the Agas map. This is because Braun and Hogenberg’s map is an engraving that allows more detail than the Agas woodcut map. As a record of London in the middle of the 16th century the Braun and Hogenberg map is one of the most important. Anyone interested in Tudor London should study both this map and the larger Agas map.


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Agas Map or Woodcut Map of London

Above: A very small reproduction of the remaining map. Notice the gaps between the map sections which are due to the edges of the original wooden blocks being damaged. There are eight blocks – two small ones on the left and then six large ones – which form the whole map.

Before the days of printing, which paved the way for prints, text and maps to be reproduced in large quantities, a few simple maps do exist but they were one-off, hand-drawn works, produced usually on parchment by talented artists.

There were no maps of London before about 1550 – that is to say, there were no maps of London in the way that we know them today. The reason why is simple to explain – printing was not invented until about 1450. One of the earliest presses was invented by Gutenberg, in Germany. Early books were publications like the Bible. It took several decades before any serious printing started up in London. Any printed illustrations were usually woodcuts and they were not like the fine steel engraving that we have all seen, they were just simple pictures with rather chunky lines.

The earliest map – showing the City of London and places like Westminster, Holborn, Clerkenwell and parts of Southwark – is a woodcut produced by an unknown craftsman. It is undated but, by examining the map, it was probably produced about 1561. In the 18th century, a well-known antiquarian called George Vertue thought the map may have been made by a man called Ralph Agas. Agas is well-known for having made a detailed map of Oxford but the drawing is in a different style and could not have been made by him. Because the map of London lacked a name as well as lacking a known author, the wrongly-named title ‘Agas Map’ of London has continued to be used, even to this day. It provides historians with a shorthand way of describing the map, even when everybody knows the name is incorrect.

Early maps of London were not drawn as a plan but as a bird’s-eye-view. Now that have miniature drones that can be flown to take a picture from above the land, such bird’s-eye-views are easy to obtain. In the 16th century, nobody had seen London from above and the so-called maps were just works of the craftsman’s imagination.

The so-called Agas map was produced as a large woodcut on six blocks of wood, each block being about A3 in size and two additional blocks about A4 in size. The six blocks were laid out in two rows of three with each block in landscape mode. The two A4-size blocks are on the left of the other six. The sizes described are approximate, making a total length of about eight feet and nearly four feet high. The mapmaker had to work laboriously, cutting out the wood where ‘white’ was to appear on the printed map and leaving thin ridges of wood to form the lines on the finished map.

The final map shows the River Thames with parts of Westminster on the left and the Tower of London on the right. Parts of Holborn, Clerkenwell and Shoreditch extend northwards. Along the south of the map can be seen parts of Lambeth, Southwark and Bermondsey. The whole map was published about 1561 but those imprints no longer exist. The paper imprint would have been very expensive. No general member of the public would have been able to afford to buy a copy and most of the public was not able to read either. It may be that only 500 or 1,000 copies were printed with the main purchasers being noblemen or wealthy merchants.

The wooden blocks must have been stored somewhere for several decades before being used in 1633 to publish a new imprint. How do we know all this if the first imprint of the map no longer exists? It has taken a bit of detective work but the answer is because the later imprints bear a coat of arms dating from about 1633. The old coat of arms has been cut out of the map and a new one inserted. The map is otherwise unchanged. Of course, when the later imprint was produced, the map was rather out of date. Of the later imprint, only three paper copies exist and have parts missing along the edges of the original blocks. The wooden blocks have never been found and it is assumed that they were later destroyed or just thrown away.

Above: A sample of the Agas map showing a small part of the riverside. The map shows an amazing amount of detail which can be seen on the original which is even larger scale than that shown here.

All three paper copies of the map can be viewed by the public – one copy is in the Guildhall Library, one is in the Public Record Office and a third is held in a university library in Cambridge. Facsimile reproductions of the map can be purchased via the London Topographical Society Website. That reproduction is taken from the copy held by the Guildhall Library.


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Tarn, Court Road, Eltham

Above: The rounded top of the ice well.

The ice well was built between 1750 and 1760 within the grounds of Eltham Lodge which is now used as the Royal Blackheath Golf Club. Eltham Lodge was the property of the Shaw family, being built in 1664 by Sir John Shaw. During the 1750s, the house and grounds underwent considerably modernisation.

In the days before refrigerators, ice was cut from ponds and lakes in winter and preserved in ice wells. The first record of ice wells was in 1683 when one was constructed in nearby Greenwich Park.

The ice well worked like a vacuum flask by insulating the ice and excluding any warmth from the surroundings. The ice well at The Tarn is sited in a shady spot, with a brick-lined pit in damp ground. Its situation is some distance south of Eltham Lodge which was presumably because of its nearness to the source of ice from the deep lake. The top opening of the pit was north facing for extra coolness and the top would have been thickly insulated by a conical straw thatch covering.

Above: The adjacent lake where the ice formed. The wooden bridge is a modern addition. The water was covered in duckweed when the picture was taken.

The lake, with the ice well at the side, is now a public park and a local nature reserve. The tranquil site has changed little over almost 300 years since the ice well was built for a very specific purpose.


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Ice and Ice Wells (Background Page)

Above: Ice being conveyed in winter by horse and cart from ponds near Hampstead.

What did people do when they wanted to cool food down in the days before refrigerators? How did fishmongers and butchers keep their produce cool? Did domestic cooks have a way to keep food cool? There are answers to all these questions but the various methods would depend on how much money a shop or cook was prepared to spend.

Since very early times, people must have realised that they could gather ice from ponds but, of course, it would not last very long as ice if the weather suddenly became warmer. As the centuries rolled on, people realised that ice gathered from deep ponds in winter could be kept for several months in a deep hole, resembling that of a well. A deep pit, often 40 or 50 feet deep was dug, with a diameter of 10 to 20 feet. To shade the hole from sunlight, a large roof was built over the hope – very often being thatched. Ice thrown into the pit would remain as ice for several months. Lumps of ice were cut from the store and used in the kitchens of wealthy households to keep foodstuffs cool. Such pits were known as ice wells.

Today, many of the ice wells remain where they were dug. Some are on private property and, therefore, cannot be viewed by the public. Others are on sites that were once part of a large estate and have now become a park. Ice wells in public places can be seen but it is only the tops of the structures that are on view. It is not possible to enter the ice well or descend to the bottom.

As transport by ship became more regular, large quantities of ice were collected from countries like Norway and transported to docks and wharves in London where the ice was stored in much larger ice wells – brick-lined, 30 feet wide and 42 feet deep. Due to the mass of the ice stored, it held its temperature, only melting very slowly in the summer months. With a constant supply of ice by ship, ice supplies were maintained throughout the year and commercial ice wells supplied people in the catering business, as well as ice-cream sellers.

Early attempts to create artificially cold conditions to form ice started in 1758 but it was not until 1861 that a commercial refrigerator was built. Although it worked well, it was very large and was used to keep meat from a slaughterhouse frozen.

Most homes in Britain were still using a cool box until after the end of the Second World War. A cool box was double-lined in metal with a material that did not easily conduct heat placed between the two sides. It would only help to keep cool foodstuffs cool, it did not cool them down. Many houses had a larder which was a small room, usually north facing, near the kitchen where food could be stored at a cooler temperature than the rest of the house.

While the technology for constructing a refrigerator was understood well before the turn of the 1900s, everything had to be on quite a large scale to work efficiently. In 1927 General Electric (GE) produced a home model that was powered by electricity. Ice no longer had to be imported to supply restaurants and the modern refrigerator became a reality.


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Holland Park Ice House

Holland House was a large house set within an enormous estate on the north side of Kensington High Street. Sadly, the house was very badly damaged during the Second World War and only a small part of the original building remains today. The land surrounding the old house is now the elegant Holland Park.

A short distance from Holland House was a small round building that stored ice to supply the kitchen of the large house. Because the house was destroyed in the 1940s, it is unlikely that the kitchen ever had a refrigerator, even in the latter years of its existence. Where the ice was collected from is not stated but there would have been deep ponds within the grounds, providing a supply of ice which was collected and stored in the ice house during the cold winter months. It is believed to have been built about 1770. The structure is unusual because all of it was above ground.

The building has been transformed into a contemporary exhibition space that is used for presenting small scale works of art. It is used as a public art gallery for an annual programme of exhibitions running from April to September. It stands near Stable Yard, Holland Park, Ilchester Place, just north of the old house.

See also – Holland House


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Huggin Hill in the 1920s

In the 1920s, Huggin Hill was known as Huggin Lane. Although it is still pedestrianised – as it was in the 1920s – there is nothing remaining today to help identify the location shown in the photograph. It was taken about 100 years ago and looks north in old Huggin Lane from its junction with Upper Thames Street. In those days – and, indeed, right up to the 1970s – Upper Thames Street was a relatively narrow street, lined with Victorian warehouses. It is now a busy dual-carriageway with noisy traffic speeding along at all hours of the day and night. The top end of Huggin Lane emerges beside the relatively modern site Cleary Gardens, where it meets Queen Victoria Street. During the Second World War, the buildings in the lane sustained considerable damage.

The charming picture shows the churchyard of St Michael, Queenhithe, on the right at the bottom of the lane. All evidence for the churchyard has long gone from the site.

On the left can be seen an artist. Who he was or the painting he made is not known. On the left was premises serving, as the sign says ‘Tea and Coffee’ with ‘Dining Rooms’ attached. There is a sign on the wall of the building on the north side of the churchyard advertising another restaurant. They have all disappeared and Huggin Hill is devoid of anything of interest along its entire length.

One feature of the photograph shows mirrors mounted on each side of Huggin Lane. At least three can be seen. They were once a common sight all over the City of London. Because lanes like this one were so narrow, the light coming through office windows was very restricted. By mounting mirrors at 45 degrees outside a window, they reflected light from the sky into office rooms.

Finally, the spire of St Mildred, Bread Street, can be seen in the distance. Sadly, the Wren spire, the tower and the church were all destroyed in the Blitz in 1941 and not rebuilt. The site is now offices.

The whole scene in the old photograph speaks to us of another age when London lived at a slower pace. Only very few locations in the City now remain to remind the visitor of times a century ago.


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