Sunday, February 23, 2014

The London of Sebastian St. Cyr: Maps of Old London

When it comes to the topography of early 19th century London, this tattered tome is my bible. Based on a survey by Richard Horwood from 1792-9, the map was updated by William Faden in 1813, which makes it perfect for the Sebastian St. Cyr series. It is beyond wonderful; not only does it show all the streets, lanes, courts and alleys, but it even shows individual buildings with street numbers! Unfortunately for those of us with aging eyes, Faden's originally larger map segments have been reduced for publication to pages that only are about 8" x 12", so these days I find myself reaching for a magnifying glass a lot.

When I first started What Angels Fear, I had yet to discover the London Topographical Society and had to make do with an 18th century map of London and the Greenwood map of 1827, which is on line here (that's a screenshot from the Greenwood map, above).


Although London in 1827 was amazingly different from London of 1811-13, I still use it sometimes because you can really zoom in on a location and print it out. (Once upon a time I had the entire map printed out and mounted on giant sections of foam board, but then this little thing called Katrina flooded my office, and that was the end of that.)

Also online is John Rocque's 1746 map of London, which is here. It's also available in book form from the same people who print the 1813 Regency map.

To give you an idea of the kind of detail these maps provide, here is Hyde Park corner from 1746, showing the turnpike, the Tiburn gallows, and the nearby spot where, the map tells us, "soldiers are shot."

I love these maps and spend hours pouring over them just for fun. Some of us are easily amused.

21 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

So cool. Puts you right in that world.

lmhess said...

I love maps - I remember when Google maps started to become popular - I was always investigating something. These ones you've discovered are wonderful. I personally couldn't survive without my map of London so I'll be investigating the ones you've shared. They will make Sebastian and Hero seem that much more real.

Anonymous said...

c- one of the things i love most about your books is the detail about the time period and actually learning something! Whether its the clothes, customs,or historical London. i feel i know so much more now. i just bookmarked the website Locating London's Past. the maps must be great fun! i would spend hours with them as well.
best,
ali

JustWingingIt said...

Maps are so helpful. I'm a visual person and it really helps me if I can place where the characters and the action are in relation to the setting so this is great.

Also, I was wondering how you decided on 'Hero' as a name for Miss Jarvis. Was it a common name back in 1812 London?

Veronica

Barbara Butler McCoy said...

Ooh, this is very cool. It does pull you right into Sebastian and Hero's world, their days, and I, too, spend time looking at maps trying to get a feel for other places. I saw on the BBC site today that that woman who made the A-Z maps of London (a significant clue in an episode of "Sherlock") has died. Which is more awesome, I ask tongue in cheek, cartography or writing? ;0 Thank you!

Suzanne said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I love looking at old maps. Looking at them and finding the places where my favourite fictional and historical characters lived is one of the things I like to do prior to travelling to a place.

paz said...

Excellent post! Map lover hear too, particularly those hand drawn, better yet if they are quirky. Thank you yet again for suggesting websites with all this historical detail. I am off to check old London out with my kids again!

cs harris said...

Charles, it really does.

Imhess, yes, I can also spend hours on Google maps!

Ali, I do try really hard; it's fun.

JustWingingIt, I don't think "Hero" has ever been a common name, although it was around then. I simply couldn't think of anything else that fit her.

Barbara, if I'd realized how many map lovers we had, I'd have put this up long ago.

Suzanne, I love that they're on line like this. The British have done a wonderful job of putting historical stuff up.

Paz, yes the hand drawn ones are really wonderful.

JustWingingIt said...

I love that answer about Hero's name. Can you tell I just love her? What a perfect match for Sebastian. *grin*

Veronica

Anonymous said...

Ooooooo. I can't wait to troll through these and compare with London of today. My husband and I are taking our 13 year old to Europe for the first time this June. I'm going to go back through all the Sebastian books and look for landmarks for us to see that might still be there. Any recommendations? Like is the cemetary next to Jamie Knox's place still there? I think you said the church where Kat went to look for Sebastian after he learned the truth (well, one truth) was still there. Would love to hear if you have any suggestions. Sabena

cs harris said...

Veronica, I really can't imagine her as an Emma or Hannah, can you? Never!

Sabena, Yes, the Temple is still there, although they've stripped off some of the "improvements" that were there in Sebastian's time, so that it now looks more like it was meant to. Sebastian's house at #41 Brook Street has been torn down and replaced by a hotel. The 18th century Somerset House is there, although now with the Victorian Embankment between it and the river. Lambeth Palace is still there. St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, by Jamie Knox's tavern, is still there. I guess I should do a post on this some day!

Dorothy Love said...

Hi Candy, Recently discovered your St Cyr books and love them!! I'm a PhD and a former academic. Now I write historical romantic suspense set in 19th century America, and I collect old maps, mainly those by Johnson and John Tallis. In May I'll be in NOLA for a couple of days attending a convention. Would love the chance to say hello while in town. Sorry for contacting you in a public space--I couldn't find a way here on your site to send a private message. My web addy is below. In any event, you now have a new fan. Dorothy

Rebecca said...

I just KNEW you loved maps! I have found those same maps on line and have printed out certain sections which I keep tucked in the cover of my Sebastian books to refer to while I'm reading them. What a shame your foam mounted maps got ruined in Katrina. I frequently wish I had a several giant maps of London to refer to.

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