Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

BRITAIN'S TUDOR MAPS: Country by Country by John Speed

BRITAIN'S TUDOR MAPS: Country by Country by John Speed
05 Mar
2017
At the turn of the 17th century, the idea of travelling around Britain for pleasure, as opposed to for trade and governance, was starting to gain popularity.

For the nobleman wishing to experience life outside his four walls, consulting John Speed’s newly-published Theatre of Great Britain was the Tudor equivalent of plotting a route in Google Maps. Speed’s masterfully detailed compendium of county guides has been carefully restored in this handsome volume.

‘The whole country appeared to him an unending pageant,’ writes Nigel Nicholson in the introduction, something demonstrated by the sheer exuberance of each of Speed’s creations. The man seemed to loath wasted space and each map is replete with adornments, from plan views of prominent cities, to illustrations of battles fought in the region, to lists of local noble families and their crests or banners. There was a practical reason for such embellishments – each map had to fit on uniformly-sized pages and, with counties varying in size, the scale of each would change leaving ample space for decoration.

He would also provide written accounts of each location for potential visitors, sadly not reproduced here, although each county is accompanied for modern readers with summaries by Alasdair Hawkyard both of Speed’s travails and potted histories of each region. In a sense, Speed was more of an editor than cartographer. He, of course, had an undoubted talent for map creation, and certainly put in his due diligence travelling the entire country. Nonetheless, each of Speed’s creations relied heavily on the work of those that came before and this new volume makes sure to give Speed’s predecessors their due. Nonetheless, it was Speed that brought it all together and this is a fine tribute to the work of the ‘tailor from Sheffield’ who, in a sense, opened the country to us all.         

Click here to purchase ‘Britain's Tudor Maps: Country by Country’ by John Speed

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Books

by Jean Lopez, Vincent Bernard, Nicolas Aubin and Nicholas Guillerat…

Books

by Zoran Nikolic • Collins • £14.99 (softback)

Books

by John Haywood • Thames & Hudson • £19.95 (hardback)

Books

by Ed Stafford • White Lion Publishing • £30 (hardback/eBook)

Books

In need of inspiration? Check out Geographical’s best books of…

Books

by Rory MacLean • Bloomsbury • £20 (hardback)

Books

by David Runciman • Profile Books • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

Give the gift of adventure this year with these superb…

Books

by David Sim • Island Press • £26 (paperback)

Books

by Tamin Ansary • Public Affairs • £21.99 (hardback)

Books

DK • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Philip Marsden • Granta • £20 (hardback)

Books

by James Lovelock • Allen Lane • £14.99 (hardback)

Exhibitions

The largest collection of treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb ever to…

Films

Fresh from an award-winning screening at the Sundance Film Festival…

Films

The inside story about The Cave – the first feature…

Books

by Laura Waters • Affirm Press (via bookdepository.com) • £16.61 (paperback)

Books

by John Halpern, MD and David Blistein • Hachette Book…