Exploring the Artifacts: English Maps

Continuing our exploration of 17th-century maps (see my last featurette here), we look at yet another map in the Manor House:

Map of Buckinghamshire

 by Danielle Straub

In the Manor House’s Withdrawing Room, there is a map on the far wall across from the rope. This map is small and hard to see from across the room, but up close one can see vibrant colors and beautiful ornamentation. I wanted to point this map out because not only is it beautiful, but also because it is an interesting specimen of maps from the 1600’s.  Be sure and click on the images to open a larger view.

I mentioned in the last Featurette characteristics of older maps, if some may recall, which I will be using again in this article. Our map is of Buckinghamshire in England, from 1610. Since this map is 100 years older than our Pennsylvania map (also seen in the last Featurette, follow link above to view), we can see more decoration and the use of mythical creatures.

To begin, in the center of the map is the main map of Buckinghamshire. Noted on the map are man-made features such as towns, cites, and bridges. The towns and cites are marked by a symbol of small buildings with a red dot of watercolor over it. Our mapmaker seemed to use red and yellow watercolors more than the others! These colors are splashed across the crests, fleur de lis, and well-inked lions. Getting back to the central map, the natural features that we placed on the map include hills, mountains, trees, and rivers. The shape of the hills and mountains appear to be anywhere from a bump to a rounded peak, while rivers are a consistent bold line. The trees stand alone at places or are placed in clusters as well on the map.

At the top corners are inset boxes. The box on the left is of Buckinghamshire and on the right is Redding. These insets are like mini maps to important cities and include their own compass, distance scale, crest, and key. They show the roads, river, groups of buildings, fields, and is decorated with oversized farmers and their animals. The key is for the street names which each have a corresponding letter or number on the map. The inset of Redding also labels the South Giles Church and the school in Redding.

Lastly, in the bottom corners are arches. These arches have titles held up above them by two cupids. In the arch on the left is the King’s crest and below are crossed lances and flags with a crown. Across the lances is a banner which reads “UNION”. In the arch on the right are four crests with the title of “The Armes of thofe Honorable Families which have born ye Titles of Buckingha(m)”. The family crests include those of “Walter Gifford Earle, Richard Stanbowe E., Thomas of Wodftoke E., and Humfr. Stafforde Duke”. This map is beautiful and was a symbol of pride for these families to be from Buckinghamshire. If you ever get a chance to see it close up, please go view and enjoy it.



**A big THANK YOU to Danielle Straub for her work on these summer featurettes and helping our curator Todd with his work in Pennsbury’s archives!**


One comment on “Exploring the Artifacts: English Maps

  1. fireflite says:

    Not long ago I had a lady from Holland on one of my tours who was looking at the Dutch-made map located just inside the withdrawing room door. She noted that one of the names was misspelled. I explained that this was before the invention of the dictionary, so there was no such thing as incorrect spelling. The Buckinghamshire map has some great examples of this.

    Look closely at the street name key for Redding. There are a number of interesting spellings, such as schole (school), schomakers (shoemaker’s) and brode (broad). But my favorite is the word street, which is spelled no less than three different ways (strete, streate, and stret), none of which is the way we spell it! I think in the latter case, he might have left off the last ‘e’ simply because he ran out of space.

    There are also some interesting printer’s conventions evident on the map. The most obvious is the infamous s-shaped-like-an-f. It should be noted that, although it’s stretched in height, this is in fact the letter s. You can tell the difference since the f has the crossbar, while the s (normally) does not. It’s akin to how some letters look quite different in various modern fonts, say Times Roman vs. Futura vs. Old English.

    There is also an example of the word “ye”. This is vestige of an obsolete letter called a ‘thorn’, which looked something like a p and a b printed on top of one another. The thorn represented the “th” sound. However, when the thorn was dropped from modern English, typesetters decided they could substitute either ‘th’ or a ‘y’. Hence the word “ye” is pronounced ‘the’, not ‘yee”.

    Tom Turner

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