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John Speed: Wight Island

Map: HANTS630
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: Wight Island
Date: 1614
Published: London
Width: 21 inches / 54 cm
Height: 15 inches / 39 cm
Map ref: HANTS630
During the Tudor period in the history of England, the Isle of Wight held particular prominence as it was thought to be one of the most likely points for an invasion by Spain. The events of the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada in 1588 were still in the mind of Elizabeth I and she granted the governorship of the island to her trusted kinsman, Sir George Carey.

One of his first actions was to hire the Italian engineer, Frederico Grenebelli, to remodel Carisbrooke Castle in the event of another Spanish attempt to invade England. Simultaneously, due to its proximity to the important harbours of both Portsmouth and Southampton, accurate mapping was essential and the well-known English map publisher, William White was tasked to produce an accurate chart of this region.

Speed states in the text panel on the lower centre that his map is based on White’s map although as usual, he added the two small city plans on the lower corners. The right corner shows Southampton, most likely included as being the port which was most important to the island while the left corner shows Newport, situated on the north coast, very close to Carisbrooke.

The shape of the island makes for a pleasing aesthetic and several ships and sea monsters are present on the sea scape.

English text on verso. Image available on request.