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Description: This large original copper-plate engraved antique print by Johannes (Jan) Kip, after Leonard Knyff, was published in the 1724 Joseph Smith edition of Britannia Illustrata or Nouveau Theatre de la Grande Bretagne. This beautifully engraved original antique print is testimony to the fine, detailed work produced by Jan Kip.
Britannia Illustrata was first issued in 1707 by David Mortier as a single volume containing 80 topographical etchings by Johannes Kip, after drawings by Leonard Knyff. Many are birds eye views of country seats, but there are also a number of interesting London views. The series was first reissued and expanded into two volumes in 1708-1713, and provided with a second French title Nouveau Theatre de la Grande Bretagne. An expanded edition of Britannia Illustrata was re-published by Joseph Smith in 1724 under its French title, Nouveau Theatre..., containing many of the plates from the original edition by Mortier and also containing may new plates of places, churches, cathedrals and architecture of the landed gentry.
Background:The parish of St Mary le Strand may lay a good claim to being one of the oldest parishes in London. It stands dominating a roadway which since prehistory has been the main artery to the west from the City of London. In early Saxon times the Strand area was the very heart of London, for it seems that the City was effectively abandoned by the newly-arrived settlers. The Saxons predominantly inhabited "Lundenwic", an area stretching from Fleet Street to Whitehall and from the Thames to Covent Garden from the sixth to the ninth centuries. Christianity came to this settlement with St Mellitus and his followers in 604, and, despite their brief expulsion in the 620s, became firmly established. We do not know if any of the existing churches in the area date back that far but some, such as St Clement Danes, are known to have existed in later Saxon times.
There is no record of when St Mary le Strand was founded, but the first church, which was dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, stood just south of the present church on a site now covered by Somerset House. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bishops of Worcester were the Patrons of the parish and had their London residence on an adjoining site. For throughout the period from the Norman Conquest to the Reformation, the Strand was mainly the home of bishops and princes. Within the parish were the "inns" - large town houses with chapels, stables and accommodation for a large retinue - of the Bishops of Worcester, Llandaff, Coventry and Lichfield. A large part of the parish was absorbed by the building of a great house, the Palace of the Savoy, by Count Peter of Savoy, the uncle of Henry III, in the 1240s. A century later this became the home of John of Gaunt, Earl of Lancaster, and the palace became a centre of culture; among its residents was Geoffrey Chaucer, who was married in the palace chapel. Gaunt's unpopularity, as the king's chief minister, caused the palace to be burned in the Peasant's Revolt. Despite its long absence, the fame of the palace has lasted in the area and was recreated in the nineteenth century by the Savoy Hotel and Theatre. The site where the present church stands was occupied in medieval times by Strand Cross. The origins of this are unclear. It was not a cross erected in memory of Queen Eleanor - as was Charing Cross - but seems to have dated back at least to Norman times. Perhaps it began as a market cross; by the early fourteenth century it had been rebuilt in a lavish manner, almost certainly following the design of the Eleanor Crosses. Strand Cross was a famous site and it is recorded that in the thirteenth century the local magistrates held their assizes in front of it. Until the sixteenth century, the Strand was no more than a line of Bishops' palaces on the south side of the roadway stretching all the way to Whitehall. On the north side stood a wall which bounded the Convent - later Covent - Garden, while the churches further away, St Martin's and St Giles, stood "in-the-fields". All this was to change with the Reformation. The bishops' inns around the church were seized by Edward Lord Protector who set about building himself a renaissance palace in what was then the most fashionable part of town. Even with the extensive site that he had now obtained, further space was needed and towards the end of 1548 the Lord Protector's workmen fell upon St Mary's church and demolished it to provide stone for the new palace. Further stone was provided by the demolition of a cloister at St Paul's Cathedral known as Pardon Churchyard and the greater part of the Priory of St John at Clerkenwell. Even by the standards of the time, the demolition of so much sacred property was an outrage. Somerset was never to enjoy living in his new palace; just as it was nearing completion he was overthrown by his political enemies and executed at Tower Hill in 1551. It is said that Somerset had intended to build a new parish church. If so, all thought of it passed away with his fall. Initially, the parishioners scattered but within a short time we find them gathered in the chapel of St John the Baptist in the Savoy. Here they would remain for the next 175 years. Now known at "St Mary le Savoy", the parishioners chose and paid for their own ministers. The most famous of these was Thomas Fuller, the church historian, who was appointed in 1642, fled during the Civil War and was restored to his living in 1660. Following the execution of Somerset, his palace had passed to the possession of the Crown. Elizabeth I occasionally lodged there and it was from Somerset House that she set off to give thanks after the defeat of the Armada. Under the Stuarts, extensive improvements were made to the palace, the most impressive being the lavish Roman Catholic chapel built by Charles I's queen, Henrietta Maria. The roadway in front of Somerset House, where Strand Cross had stood and where the present church was later to stand, was occupied in the early seventeenth century by a windmill used to pump water. In 1634 the first Hackney Carriage stand in England was established here by one Captain Bailey. Here also a maypole was erected which became the most famous maypole in London. Demolished by the Puritans, a new maypole was erected in 1661. Parts of this maypole remained until 1717, when they were removed and presented to Sir Isaac Newton as the base for a telescope. In 1711, an Act of Parliament was passed for building 50 New Churches in the fast expanding suburbs of London. These were the so-called "Queen Ann Churches"; among them are Hawksmoor's Christ Church Spitalfields, St Anne's Limehouse, and St George's-in-the-East, Archer's St Paul's Depftord and James' St George's, Hanover Square. St Mary le Strand was quick to apply for a church to replace their demolished one and, as the site on the Strand was so prominent, the Commissioners for building the New Churches decided to make the Strand church the most lavish of the churches. Initially, it was intended that there should not be a spire but that a column celebrating the building of the New Churches should stand directly in front of the church.
General Description: Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable Paper colour: - off white Age of map colour: - Colours used: - General colour appearance: - Paper size: - 26 1/2in x 22in (670mm x 560mm) Plate size: - 23in x 18in (585mm x 460mm) Margins: - min 1in (25mm) Imperfections: Margins: - None Plate area: - None Verso: - None