A FABULOUS EARLY MANUSCRIPT MAP OF THE ISLE OF WIGHT. Drawn in pen and inks it depicts the Island and nearby mainland coastline from Hurst Castle in the west to Southsea Castle and beyond. At the top of the map is the town of Southampton. Towns, windmills and even the Needles are shown in relief. The map identifies key towns and is decorated with church sketches, windmills and trees. The work is accompanied by a photocopy of a letter detailing the provenance a little further together with a photocopy of a letter from Dr David Tomalin, County Archaeological Officer 1972-c.2003 noting his observations on the map and dating it to around c.1600 as did Clifford Webster, retired Isle of Wight County Archivist. The following is a list of the known early maps of the Isle of Wight, three of which are in manuscript:
1 – John Rudd. c.1570. Manuscript drawn by Thomas Mayne in Burghley’s Saxton atlas
2 – Baptista Boazio. 1591. Printed
3 – John Norden. 1595. Manuscript for Queen Elizabeth I (BL)
4 – William White? c.1600. Manuscript used by Speed (BL Cotton)
5 – John Speed. 1612. Derived from William White. Printed
The paper bears a pot watermark typical of French made paper from c.1590-1650 supporting the suggested date. A comparison of the handwriting is however inconclusive. As for the main features Tomalin points out that Yarmouth Castle is shown twice. It is interesting that Carisbroke Castle not present which was heavily extended militarily between 1597 and 1602. This is notable as in private correspondence Peter Barber believes the map to have more of a military point than a civil one. There are no administrative boundaries shown and the noted use of castles, windmills and hills outlines distinct defensive interests. Barber also pointed out the fact that the map is folded in this manner indicates it may have been an enclosure to a letter which supports its more sketch like nature. Tomalin also points out that “Meade Hole [medhole near Osborne] was an unofficial anchorage and landing place in the Tudor period. It included a woodland hideout for privateers and smuggled goods”. It is interesting to note that of the four windmills displayed on the island none are the Bembridge one built in 1700.
Provenance: Bound into an example of Sir Richard Worlsey’s ‘History of the Isle of Wight’, 1781, sold at Shanklin Auctions, Isle of Wight, c.2004/5 to Robin McInnes, coastal manager and organiser of the annual Exhibition following; Exhibited ‘Landscape Paintings of the Isle of Wight’, Ventnor Winter Gardens 2005; private English collection. Barber, Peter. (2007). ‘Mapmaking in England, ca.1470-1650’ pl. 71 & private correspondence; Churchill (1935) Watermarks nos. 458-73; Tomalin (2005) private correspondence.