Long title: Herefordshire described with the true plot of the Citieof Hereford as also the Armes of thos Nobles that have intituled with that Dignitye . Copper engraving with later hand colouring. Overall sheet size: 53.3cms x 44.7cms ; 502mm x 378mm. Some archival strengthening to centrefold on verso else superb impression in very good condition.
Plan of the city of Hereford with armorials and battle-scene below. English text verso. Centrefold as issued. In Speed’s day 28 castles with their feudal appendages survived intact and were occupied as homes by their owners. Like other marcher counties, there were anomalies in the extent of Herefordshire, it had outliers in three adjoining counties and itself incorporated a part of Monmouthshire. Several further oddities had been ironed out at the Union of England with Wales in 1536, but those remaining were largely resolved by Herefordshire falling within the jurisdiction of the Council in the Marches of Wales, which had its headquarters just across the Shropshire border at Ludlow. (See The Counties of Britain A Tudor Atlas by John Speed A Hawkyard) The battle of Ludford Bridge (actually fought in Shropshire in 1461) is depicted on the right hand side of the map. The list of armorials also contains a high number of errors. Bottom right and left are two surveyors or mathematicians, the right hand one encompassing the scale of distance is believed to be a depiction of John Speed himself. Chief Archivist of Hereford Records office, Elizabeth Semper O'Keefe, said in 2016:
'Speed's map (the town plan) is so remarkable because it provides a mixture of the familiar and the forgotten.".. "So we have the on the one hand the Cathedral and on the other St Owen's Church that was destroyed in the Civil War. It is a snapshot of a city almost on the eve of violent change.'
Unfortunately, there are no surviving records of how many examples of the First Edition (or indeed of any edition) were printed. One might speculate that the First Edition could have numbered between about five hundred and one thousand examples. It should be remembered that market for maps was not well developed in England in 1612. This, together with the cost of the atlas, the need for a second edition soon afterwards, and the high quality of impressions from the third, Latin text, edition of 1616, suggests that the first print-run may have been closer to five hundred copies or so. Unfortunately, until an attempt is made at a census of surviving examples, these figures can be regarded as only the roughest of estimates. Ashley Baynton-Williams see http://www.mapforum.com/02/speed.htm
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