Mapping Tudor London
reproduction of part of the Agas map.
Image from Wikipedia PD
A look at the Agas map of 1560.
One of the earliest detailed maps of London is the Agas Map. At 6ft by 3ft it is a detailed panoramic view of London published c.1560. Entitled Civitas Londinum, the original has not survived, but there are three surviving copies of the map which were all published in 1633. One of these is held in the Guildhall Library, London.
The map shows London in great detail. The crowded city between the river and Cornhill, Cheapside and Newgate Street. Whitechapel with just a few houses, the Tower of London surrounded by a moat and, unlike today, filled with water.
Surrounding the city are pastures and fields, dotted with cows and the occasional windmill. London Bridge is the only bridge across the Thames.
The roman London Wall guards the city. St Giles is just a village, Westminster a small town, and in the Strand, houses for the well-to-do with gardens reaching down to the river.
The map shows a little of London life: bull baiting, bear baiting, water taxis plying between the City and Westminster, trading vessels in the docks, artillery on the riverside by the Tower, women drying sheets on the fields at Moorgate.
To have a fascinating tour through Elizabethan London go to the University of Victoria.
The website has two ways to view the map. The first is through the navigation tabs at the top of the page. Click on Map. Then click a section of the map to view. Each section of the map has notable places marked. Click on these and a more detailed description is shown. Or you can go to the detailed index of the streets, churches, sites, wards, and people, with information on each topic and a link to the relevant section of the map.
The second way is their new experimental map which has layers of information which you can manipulate. A far better quality image is gained when you zoom at 100% than of the map mentioned above.
The map is also a useful guide when reading A Survey of London by John Stow, written in 1598.