Monday, September 03, 2018

The Interactive Map of Tudor England

A new interactive map allows you to explore London as it looked in the time of Henry VIII. The Layers of London project has added a Tudor Map overlay which shows a map of London in the year 1520 (select the map from the 'Layer tools' menu).

The Layers of London Tudor map features lots of locations which now no longer exist. The Fleet River, which gave its name to Fleet Street, and which is now a subterranean sewer, can be found on the map flowing past the Fleet Prison and entering the Thames next to Blackfriars Stairs. The Fleet River also connects to the London Wall moat. While parts of the London Wall still exists the moat is long gone. The moat is still partly memorialized however in the name of the street 'Houndsditch', a part of the moat where local residents would often dispose of their dead dogs.

The Tudor map also shows the original location of the Bedlam Hospital (Priory & Hospital of St Mary Bethlehem), Europe's oldest extant psychiatric hospital. The word 'bedlam' comes from the hospital's popular nickname. Although the hospital still exists it has moved many times from the position it occupies on the Tudor map (where Liverpool Street Station now is). It is presently located in West Wickham.

London Bridge was the only bridge across the Thames in Tudor London. South London, at the time shown in this map, was a den of iniquity. By the end of the 16th century a number of theatres would be built in the area. This map shows the area just before the emergence of the Southwark playhouses. However you can still see on the map that Southwark at this time was packed with inns. In Tooley Street you can also see the 'Cage', where drunks were held who were arrested too late in the day to be imprisoned. They would sleep in the cage until sober.

The area also had an abundance of brothels. On the map you can see the Palace of Winchester. The Bishop of Winchester made a lot of his money from taxing the local prostitutes, who were widely known as Winchester Geese. The area was also well known for the sport of bear baiting. Although the map doesn't show much evidence of this (except for two separate inns called The Bear) we know it was popular in Southwark because in 1546 Henry VIII tried to ban the practice "in that side London Bridge."

The Layers of London project is an attempt to document and map the history of London from the time of the Romans right up to the present day. Layers of London uses vintage maps, images and crowd-sourced information to identify locations across the capital which have important historical significance. All of which can be explored and viewed on the Layers of London interactive map.

Essentially Layers of London is an interactive map to which anyone can add historical markers. These markers identify locations of historical importance across the capital. Anyone can contribute to Layers of London by identifying locations of historical significance. These contributions can be supported by old photographs, first hand memories or the results of the results of historical research projects.

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