Maps of Major British Cities
Our Maps of Major British Cities are a collection of British town and city plans dating back hundreds of years. The Maps of Major British Cities available can provide an interesting and valuable resource into peoples lives and heritage.
Over the centuries London's position as the largest city has never been in any doubt; however it is no surprise that cities such as Birmingham and Liverpool did not feature in the earliest town plans of the 1500's and 1600's as they did not make the top forty rankings based on the Hearth Tax figures back in 1662. The reasons for their dramatic growth are all part of their individual heritage that can be appreciated below.
Maps of Major British Cities
The first serious printed maps of town plans appeared in the corners of John Speeds county maps of 1610 and onward. The surveys were conducted sometime in the 1590's, however the style is not that of a conventional plan, but a distorted isometric birds eye view.
Braun and Hagenberg
The first volume of Braun and Hagenberg's "Civitates Orbis Terrarum" was published in Cologne in 1572. The sixth and the final volume appeared in 1617. This great city atlas, edited by Georg Braun and largely engraved by Franz Hogenberg, eventually contained 546 prospects, bird-eye views and map views of cities from all over the world. Braun (1541-1622), a cleric of Cologne, was the principal editor of the work, and was greatly assisted in his project by the close, and continued interest of Abraham Ortelius, who's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of 1570 was - as a systematic and comprehensive collection of maps of uniform style - the first true atlas.
The Atlas included the following in the British Isles:
- 1572 London
- 1575 Cambridge, Oxford/Windsor Castle
- 1581 Norwich, Bristol, Chester, Edinburgh
- 1588 Canterbury
- 1598 Palace of Nonsuch
- 1618 Exeter / York / Shrewsbury / Lancaster / Richmond / Dublin / Galway / Limerick / Cork
It has been estimated that even late Elizabethan London embraced only some 100 – 150,000 people which was probably about ten times as many as any other English city at that time. Travellers were few and any major buildings that existed were built over many decades, so that the layout of even the larger cities scarcely changed from generation to generation. In consequence there was little need for planned guidance in the form expected today.
Town plans appeared throughout the next few centuries in all sorts of publications, for a variety of reasons, usually the proposed development of a new estate, or to publicise the development of a new feature. Over the recent centuries our Major British Cities have grown into sprawling conurbations, swallowing up smaller towns and villages in their wake. So again it's no surprise that there are many town plans that have been published for these cities as compared to the smaller towns whose town plans - if they were ever drawn - have been included in a super category of their own.
Some of the town plans featured in our Maps of Major British Cities.
- Cole and Roper – 1803 1810
- Thomas Moule – 1830's
- Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (S.D.U.K) – 1830 – 185
- John Tallis – 1851
- Bacon and Bartholomew – 1880's
- Royal Atlas – 1890's
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