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John Speed: Shropshyre Described

Map: SALOP258
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: Shropshyre Described
Date: 1676
Published: London
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 15 inches / 39 cm
Map ref: SALOP258
A nice example of Speed’s map of Shropshire from the last edition of the Theater of the Empire of Great Britain. Although there were later editions of this map, subsequent issues show substantial alterations to the plate.

Unlike many of his other county maps, there is no indication of either the name of the engraver, Jodocus Hondius or the original engraving date of the plate, 1610.

Geographically, the map is almost certainly derived from Christopher Saxton’s survey, with its characteristic large “mole hills” denoting high ground. As usual with Speed, he also shows a city plan of the major county town, in this case Shrewsbury, placed on the upper right corner. The plan depicts a well-developed commercial town, with an interesting note stating that houses had been built on top of the city wall. There is also a small castle and a substantial Abbey.

Characteristically to this cartographer, the decoration is sumptuous, particularly on the left of the map, where a cartouche has been combined with the Royal Arms of Great Britain, armorial shields relevant to the county as well as a compass rose, all connected with a series of straps.

The lower right corner shows a large vignette of a battle atop a panel of text explaining that this was a depiction of a conflict where the famous “Henry surnamed Hotspure” was killed. This is actually referring to the Battle of Shrewsbury of 1403, where the famous Harry Hotspur was indeed killed by his opponents, led by Henry

English text on verso. Image available on request. Coloured.