1676 John Speed Antique Map of County of Midlesex Views London & Westminster

Cartographer : John Speed

  • Title : Midle-sex Described with the most Famous Cities of London and Westminster
  • Date : 1676
  • Size: 21in x 16in (535mm x 405mm)
  • Condition: (A) Very Good Condition
  • Ref:  35602

This original hand coloured copper plate engraved antique map & views of London and the English county of Middlesex by John Speed was published in the 1676 Bassett & Chiswell edition of Speeds famous atlas The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine.
The map is embellished with the famous birds-eye views of London, Westminster and the churches of St Peters (Westminster Abbey) and old St Pauls before the great fire of London in 1666. English descriptive text of London on the verso.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Blue, yellow, green, pink
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 21in x 16in (535mm x 405mm)
Plate size: - 20 1/2in x 15 1/2in (520mm x 395mm)
Margins: - Min 1/2in (10mm)

Margins: - Light age toning
Plate area: - Re-enforced along centerfold, light uplift
Verso: - Re-enforced along centerfold, two small repair to top of map, no affect to image

This county map of Middlesex, now greater London, illustrates the market towns of Enfield, Pancras, Osterley and Staines. The map is dominated by four large vignettes with the environs of London and the county situated in the central portion of the map. The actual cartography is based on the surveys performed by John Norden, the earlier English antiquary and map maker, who unsuccessfully attempted to publish an updated county atlas of the United Kingdom before Speed. Norden also lived most of his life in Middlesex, thus becoming an obvious source for the map.
The City of London is clearly shown on the lower right of the map with villages such as Hamsted, Pancras, Kensington and Paddington marked around the city. To the lower centre of the map is an acknowledgement to the original survey by Norden, augmented by Speed himself.
Although the cartography is of some note, it is the vignettes for which this map is justly famous. To the two bottom corners are the famous Churchs of St. Peter (Westminster Abbey) Westminster on the left and St. Pauls to the right. This is the medieval Cathedral of St. Pauls, just after it had lost its spire in 1561 and before the Great Fire of 1666, in which it was destroyed then rebuilt in its present form by Sir Christopher Wren. Above these two church vignettes are two text panels in the form of books, the one on the left describing the two churches and the other on the right with a description of London itself.
Finally, two large vignettes on the upper left and right corners depict the two cities of Westminster and London respectively. It is believed that Speed was not responsible for either of these images, more likely drawing from Norden, although there are no surviving evidence of this, to date yet to be found. There are also theories that these two views may have come from either a German sources or other lost birds-eye views of London by unknown persons.
Due to modern growth of London and border changes, the county of Middlesex no longer exists, but there is little doubt this is the most the best map of London and Middlesex published in the 17th century. English text on verso