Friday, February 07, 2020

Exploring Romantic London

Romantic London is a website which allows you to explore various aspects of life and culture in London as it existed at the turn of the Nineteenth Century. The site uses Richard Horwood’s pioneering Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster to present a number of artistic images of London. It also maps a number of historical textual descriptions of places around London, for example from Wordsworth's Prelude and from Fores's New Guide for Foreigners.

Horwood's Plan (produced between 1792 and 1799) was an attempt to map every single building in London. Horwood had originally planned to include every house number on the map. The finished map did show every building but the numbering of the buildings was never completed. Romantic London uses a digitized version of Horwood's Plan and William Faden's later 1819 revised edition of Horwood's map. You can learn more about Horwood's Plan on Romantic London's Introducing Horwood's Plan.

The last time that Romantic London featured on Maps Mania was to explore Harris' descriptions of London prostitutes. Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies was an annual 18th century directory of London prostitutes. The directory not only provided the addresses and rates of London's prostitutes it also included descriptions of their physical appearance and sexual specialisms. Romantic London has mapped the 93 entries in the 1788 edition of the directory. Mapping Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies (1788) plots the addresses of the 93 entries on top of Horwood's Plan of London (1792-9). Select a marker on the map and you can read the 'lewd and frequently misogynistic' account given in the directory.

My favorite maps on Romantic London, however, are those which map vintage images of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century London. These include maps of the drawings of London in Thomas Malton’s A Picturesque Tour Through the Cities of London and Westminster, John Papworth's Select Views of London and Richard Phillips 1804 guide Modern London. All three of these maps include some wonderful images which help to show how London looked at the turn of the Nineteenth Century.

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