Many maps exist for London but just a few are really important in the study of its history
You may be surprised to learn that no street maps for London exist from before 1550. At that time, printing was in its infancy and nobody had thought of producing such a map of London. Here are some of the most important names in the history of the maps of London.
Please note that all the maps listed below have been reduced so that each image is the same width, so the images are not all to the same scale.
The Copperplate Map
It is only since the 1960's that librarians have known about this map. One panel (shown in black and white at the top of the picture) was discovered. It shows Bishopsgate and Moorfields. Within a few years the next panel below it was found (shown in black and white towards bottom right). It continues south with Bishopsgate and extends to the River Thames with a small part of London Bridge. It was not until the 1990's that the third section (shown in black and white towards the left). It contained St Paul's Cathedral, Holborn and the River Fleet.
The only parts of the map to be found are three of the original copper plates and, by examining the drawing, the date is before 1559. Needless to say, the hunt is on for the remaining sections. The map could be as large as four rows of six panels, so only a small amount of the map has been found.
The 'Agas' Map
This map was printed in whole, using wooden blocks. Only three copies are known to exist and their content is dated at around 1561. One of them is in the Guildhall library. It is quite similar to the Copperplate Map.
The 'Agas' Map is so-called because an 18th century antiquarian thought that Ralph Agas was the originator. We now know that this assumption was wrong but, since the author has never been deduced, the name 'Agas' is a handy way of referring to this map.
Braun & Hogenberg
This map was produced by two Germans around 1575. It is this map that was used to overlay the three sections of the Copperplate map in the first image. It is generally assumed that, if all the copper plates are eventually found, they will cover the same amount of London as this map.
Braun and Hogenberg's map extends from Westminster, in the west, around the Thames, via the Strand, right across the City of London and finally east to the Tower of London and what is now St Katharine Docks. On this map, St Katharine was the name of a religious house. Part of Southwark is in the foreground and, at the top, are parts of Clerkenwell and Shoreditch.
Moving the story forward to 1746, we have a much more sophisticated map, produced by a man called John Rocque. Being of French origin, his surname is usually pronounced 'Rock'.
The extent of the map of from part of Hyde Park (in the west) to where the Thames flows past the western side of the Isle of Dogs (in the east). It includes parts of Lambeth, Southwark, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe and Deptford (in the south) and up to Clerkenwell, Shoreditch and Mile End (in the north).
Horwood's map covers a vey similar part of London. He produced several versions around 1800. The detail on his map was even greater than that of Rocque. Horwood attempted to draw every house in a street and today his craftsmanship is considered remarkable for his time.
Christopher & John Greenwood
These two brothers worked on their map around the 1820's. It was to be the last map produced before the railways came to London. The first one was the London and Greenwich Railway, which opened in 1836.
More maps will be added to this history . . . please visit this Website again !