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Tudor London Map

​Image showing a close up of the Tudor map, showing the area around London Bridge, © Historic Towns Trust

​A (new) map of Tudor London

In June 2018 the Historic Towns Trust published a new edition of their map of Tudor London c. 1520 in their series of Town and City Historical Maps. Publication was made possible thanks to a generous grant from the London Topographical Society. The map is a revision of the single-sheet map published by Old House Books in 2008, which was itself based on the map of early Tudor London compiled by Col. Henry Johns and published in The Historic Towns Atlas: The City of London from Prehistoric Times to c.1520, edited by Mary D. Lobel, in 1989. Until Col. Johns created and published his map, the only maps of medieval and Tudor London were sketch maps: his pioneering work brought the medieval city into focus and now, with improved technology and further research, it has been possible to sharpen the focus once more. Giles Darkes, the Cartographic Editor of the HTT, is primarily responsible for the new map, drawing on information provided by historians and archaeologists from documentary research and excavations. Caroline Barron, Vanessa Harding, and Martha Carlin contributed to both the Atlas map - at a much earlier stage in their careers - and to the new one, and Nick Holder brought archaeological knowledge to the new map. Caroline Barron and Vanessa Harding take a closer look.

The new map embodies important changes in design and cartography. It is larger, now to the standard scale of 1:2500, and has been extended to include, to the north, the house of the Knights of St John at Clerkenwell and the Hospital of St Mary at Bishopsgate, and to the south the Bridgehead section of Southwark showing the Inn of the Bishop of Winchester and the Priory of St Mary Overy. Instead of three colours, there are now sixteen, so that it is possible to indicate different categories of structures, such as parish churches or company halls. The precincts and buildings of many of the thirty or so religious houses in London have been revised in the light of recent archaeological work undertaken by Museum of London Archaeology and others. The street directory has been extensively revised and some additional explanatory or illustrative text added. For more information on the revisions, see the British Historic Towns Atlas website.

One element that researchers on medieval and early modern London will surely appreciate is that the larger scale of the map has made it possible to indicate parish boundaries on the face of the map: parishes and parish boundaries are key to understanding London’s topography, but this is the first large-scale map of pre-Fire London to show both streets and parishes, allowing users to pinpoint places and events more accurately. London parish records and registers are vital to the ongoing interest in family history, and we hope the map will facilitate such research and complement the wealth of parish material available at London Metropolitan Archives and online. A smaller-scale map on the reverse shows ward boundaries, overlaid on the parish map and a simplified street-map: since ward and parish boundaries rarely coincide, researchers will find this helpful too.

An important aspect of the new map - invisible to most users - is that the base has been georectified, so that it fits an Ordnance Survey base and can be layered digitally with other georectified maps. It has already been uploaded to the Layers of London website, where it can be explored and, in due course, further developed.

The map costs £8.99 and is available from Guildhall Library’s bookshop and other London bookshops, or to order from any bookseller: ISBN 978-0-9934698-3-1. As always, historical map-making is an art, not an exact science, and there will remain areas where information is insufficient, or our interpretations debatable. We invite users of the map to augment or correct our presentation, contacting us through the Historic Towns Trust’s website.

Vanessa Harding is Professor of London History at Birkbeck University of London; Caroline Barron is Emeritus Professor of History at Royal Holloway University of London.

12 July 2018
Last Modified:
30 August 2019