Old Maps of London – Late 1700’s


A lightly but exquisitely hand coloured town plan dated 1799 that is guaranteed to generate a fascinating addition and conversation point in any home or office. Featuring grid references to over one hundred churches and over 50 Public Buildings. A fascinating explanation of the grid referencing appears at the base of the plan in an attempt to make this easier to use than other old maps of London. “The plan is divided on the four sides into Miles and half Miles. And for the easier finding the Buildings referred to in the following table every division of half a mile at the top and bottom, is marked with a capital letter from A to K, and on the sides with small letters from l to q.  Suppose you want to look in the map for The Royal Exchange the table shows that in the plan stands for The Royal Exchange that is situated in Cornhill & the small column directs for it in Gn therefore only suppose the Lines which mark the half miles, extend till they should meet, and in the Square which would be formed by the extreme Lines in G and n is the space within which k the Royal Exchange will be found.” There follows a further Geometrical Explanation; “In like manner the Angles of Incidence formed by extending the lines referred to to will show the Square in which any Buildings sought for is to be found”.

This map is a delightful reworking by Robert Wilkinson of a better known John Bowle’s map published just a few years earlier for the purpose it seems of detailing new streets and the widening of existing roads along with improved aesthetics provided by the intricate colouring.