Sunday, March 17, 2019

John Ogilby's Cartography

Earlier this week Layers of London, a website dedicated to visualizing London's history, added a new vintage map layer to their interactive maps. The new layer allows you to explore Layers of London's historical events on top of John Ogilby and William Morgan's 1676 map of London.

Ogilby and Morgan's map was created after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The map was originally intended to assist in the planning out of land in the City after the fire. It is believed to be the first map to show every building in London in plan (rather than through an oblique bird's eye pictorial view).

The screenshot above shows the plan of the new St. Paul's Cathedral. The old cathedral had been destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Work on the new cathedral had begun in the 1670's (when this map was surveyed) but was not completed until 1711. Ogilby & Morgan's map therefore presumably uses Sir Christopher Wren's own plans to show where the completed cathedral would soon stand.

You can view another online interactive application of Ogilby and Morgan's map on the British History Online website.

Ogilby & Morgan's map of London was published one month after Ogilby's death in 1676. As a cartographer Ogilby is probably better known for his Britannia Atlas. This atlas of roads in England & Wales is presented in a series of scrolls. Each scroll includes just one journey, shown as a strip map, from one British town to another. The Britannia Atlas includes 85 routes and provides a guide to navigating over 7,500 miles of road. The Britannia was therefore Britain's first proper road atlas. In the 1670's the finished atlas cost £5 to buy, or the equivalent of around £700 in today's money.

Late in his life Ogilby was appointed 'Cosmographer and Geographic Printer' to Charles II. However cartography was only a small part of Ogilby's life. During his relatively long life he had also been a dance teacher, a tailor a translator of Virgil, a publisher, and the founder of the first theatre in Dublin. He made a lot of money from his translations of Virgil but, if John Dryden is to be believed, Ogilby was probably a better cartographer than he was a translator. Dryden claimed that Ogilby's work was only good enough to be used for toilet paper or wrapping pies ('martyrs of pies, and relics of the bum'). I assume Dryden was unimpressed with Ogilby's translations of Latin. I can't believe Dryden would wipe his arse with Ogilby and Morgan's superb map of London.

1 comment:

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