Greenwood's Map - An Outline History

On this page there are details of when the map was produced, a list of references and links, suggestions to help you to explore the map if you're stuck, acknowledgements, and a link to the story of how this resource came about. Here's some advice if you're considering printing the map


Here's a list of publication dates for Greenwood's map - some sort of disaster overtook the original producers, and the map was taken on by another party. See acknowledgements for the source of this brief history.

Greenwood's map published, from a survey carried out in the preceding two years. The first edition copy used for this resource has been loaned from a private collection. Several versions of this first edition exist, changes include those to detail in the zoological gardens, the appearance of proposed collier docks on the Isle of Dogs, also a copy exists showing a circus in place of Park Square near Regent's Park. The following notice appeared in the Times on the seventh of November indicating that Greenwood although completing the survey was having difficulties with the production of the map.
"Greenwood's Map of London. The subscribers to the work are most respectfully informed that although the publication took place some months ago, it will be impossible for the proprietors (through the medium of their agents) to effect the whole delivery for several months; those subscribers, therefore, who have not already received their copies, and who would prefer to receive them earlier than through the regular course of delivery, are requested to apply at the office, 1 Regent Street, Pall Mall."
Critchley publishes rival map of London, much inferior and scale of three and a half inches to the mile. The London Gazette of 1st March contains a notice of the dissolution of the partnership between Christopher Greenwood and George Pringle of 13 Regent Street on the twentieth of February 1828
A new edition of Greenwood's map appears, but published by E. Ruff & Co, from remade plates, for reasons that are obscure.
E. Ruff & Co produces a further updated edition, and the map is extended to the South to include Camberwell.
A further edition printed
The "Western Review" No XXXVI in 1841 reviewed Greenwood's map, a resoundingly positive appraisal of the work thirteen years after the appearance of the first edition:
"A map of London from an actual survey, comprehending the various improvements done to 1840 by E. Ruff & Co. This is a map of London upon the largest scale adapted for the clubs and public institutions of the metropolis and the only one we have seen deserving a place in the office of a surveyor or civil engineer. When not mounted on canvas or rollers it sells in 6 coloured sheets when not merely the streets but the smallest courts and open spaces with every building of magnitude may be traced. Names of inconsiderable thoroughfares have been carefully engraved and can be read with the utmost distinction. For the metropolitan improvements in progress and those which may be in contemplation this is the best map to be consulted, no other gives a sufficiently clear idea of the obstacles to be removed in the formation of new streets."
A further edition printed
A further edition printed
This edition was included in the great exhibition in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park

A further edition printed
The final edition. Smith and Son now publishers

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Ways to explore this map

Extract from map: Earls CourtTry this: open a separate browser window and call up a web site offering aerial photographs of London. At the time of writing, Multimap is one such. It might take some time to identify a location in both map and photograph, but this can be rewarding e.g. look for Earls Court - compare the shape of the junction of the country roads to the south of the settlement recorded in Greenwood's map, and then see how this is carried by the modern buildings at the same road junction today. Then move north to the remains of a moat(?) at Earls Court itself - look to a current photograph and you'll find something in the the shape of the 'moat' is echoed by a quadrant of the contemporary buildings on the site ... whether there is any direct relationship here I'd leave to you ...

Another suggestion: if you're visiting London, print off a single panel of the map to take with you - as you can imagine, the original document is most unhandy and somewhat conspicuous for use in the street. Use the print out to find the 19th century city. Look for unregarded buildings and even boundaries (which often outlast bricks and mortar) as well as the landmarks. Water features are particularly stubborn and may leave changes in level or other clues even when the water itself is no longer visible.

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Bibliography and Links.

Here's links to both online and printed information connected with Greenwood's Map of London.

Online map site from Motco
A collection of London maps, including the outstanding map by Horwood, also Roques map, and Greenwoods - the 1830 edition.
Adventures in Cybersound
In the eighteen twenties extraordinary experiments were in progress involving new media, and London saw the construction of a 'Diorama' - a building housing equipment to envelope an audience in images: some of the building survives in a different form nearly two centuries later.
Reynold's Map of London
London at the time of John Snow, courtesy of Ralph R. Frerichs at the UCLA department of Epidemiology. Quality presentation of a second historical map of London.
Cary's Map of London 1818
Another outstanding map of London, again courtesy of Ralph R. Frerichs
Charles Booth Online Archive
Charles Booth's survey of late nineteenth century London - living conditions colour coded and overlayed onto an Ordnance Survey map of the time - and also a guide to Charles Booth's papers and supporting research with much content online.
Link to Copac
An Online Public Access Catalogue, providing unified access to the online catalogues of some of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland.
The Map Curators Toolbox
- a well structured list of links to map info for the professional ...
Geographers A to Z series
Try viewing Greenwoods map alongside a modern A to Z ...
The London Encyclopaedia. Papermac 1993.
Edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert. Much information on city locations, individual works and buildings.
Printed maps of London circa 1553-1850
Howgego, James Laurence.
Rennie, John. John Rennie was involved with improvements to London's infrastructure.
British Almanac 1828-29
London's evolution over the period of the maps first publication.
Bryans dictionary of painters and engravers.
Bryan, Michael. See Neale, born 1758 died 1824, an engraver contemporary with the map.
London - World City 1800 - 1840
Yale University Press in association with the Museum of London. English Edition ISBN 0 300 05284 7
Portrait of London's development at the time of Greenwood's map

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With thanks to the 'lis-maps' mailing list, particularly Francis Herbert, who put me in touch with Ralph Hyde, of London's Guildhall Library. Ralph Hyde kindly allowed me sight of his private notes on the map as a source for this brief history. Thanks to other Guildhall Library staff for helping me to ... leave the Library while carrying the privately held copy of the map.

Also, thanks to Bath Spa University College for hosting this resource. Also to AS, map wrangler, for the loan of the 3a on which the 'Place Names' page was written. To JR for providing a London base camp on more than one occasion. To ERA for sourcing the map. Acknowledging a great debt to Mr Greenwood and his surveyors, and thanks to the owner for permission to copy the map, also anyone remotely connected with image compression.

The following books among others have been helpful:

  • Laura Lemay's 'Learn HTML ...' series.
  • Strunk and White. The Elements of Style. Macmillan 1979
  • 'Cascading Style Sheets - Designing for the Web', by Bert Bos and Håkon Wium Lie. Addison Wesley Longman
  • 'Professional Web Site Optimization' from Wrox Press.
  • Boethius. Consolation of Philosophy.
This resource was developed using:

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Site problems.

I'd like to hear about anything on this site that's broken. Do send me a message if you have problems with this site. You are welcome to print portions from the maps for personal use. You are welcome to reuse and adapt, for non-commercial purposes, the html map display code used in this resource - the more maps that there are on the web, the sooner we'll be able to find our way about. Please don't reuse the map images in your own web site though - a link to this one is better.

There's more - a short story of this resource.

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© Mark Annand  11th December 2015. Online from February 1998. 
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