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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Found Some Good Maps!

Old London map from 1520s

I’m reading a mystery that takes place in London of 1399, the reign of Richard II, apothecaries, belief in God so strong people bless their bowels, and superstitions strong enough to beat people to death in the streets.

Meanwhile, the views of London were so strong, and people’s movement well explained, that I had to find a street map of London for the period. While I didn’t find one from that year, I did find an excellent detailed map from the reign of Henry VIII (1520s). Given the directions the author, Peter Ackroyd, described of his characters’ wandering through the city, not much had changed in 130 years.

I was able to track horseriders and thieves, spies and whores, through the city’s smallest streets, and out beyond the city walls. What’s most surprising to me, the modern, is how London was a town of many small rivers flowing into the Thames, and these rivers correspond to many of today’s tube lines or underground stations. Seems the 19th century “moderns” diverted the tributaries, or dredged them out, or sent them further underground, and used the dry ditches to lay some of the earliest tracks.

Fleet Street corresponds to the Fleet River.  And many streets are those recognizable today.

The book is “The Clerkenwell Tales” and the map website is here. Click on the different sections for an enlarged image.

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