A Coloured Chart of the Coast of Suffolk, from Orwell Haven to Gorlston, near Yarmouth
Medium: Ink and tempera on parchment
This is a map of the Suffolk coast stretching from Orwell Haven to Godeston near Yarmouth. It details the defences of the area may be part of the coastal survey of 1539. Fortification of large sections of coast was carried out at this time as Henry VIII feared an invasion from the combined forces of France and Spain. In 1538 Francis I of France, and Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain signed a peace treaty. This union gave rise to the possibility that France and Spain may combine forces to invade England. France was England’s historical enemy and Henry VIII’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon, Charles V’s aunt, had offended the militantly catholic King of Spain. The map includes a vignette view of Ipswich, and a depiction of Orford Castle, built by Henry II in the 1160’s to guard what was then a busy port. Here a beacon is shown on the battlements, indicating that the castle, built on raised grown, has been incorporated into the early warning system that is depicted along the coast by numerous beacons. Two round tower forts are shown with gun ports and extended cannons.
Such a large scale fortification plan was greatly aided by the significant advances in cartography and surveying which occurred in the Tudor period. The vast wealth Henry VIII had at his disposal after the dissolution of the monasteries provided the necessary finances for the survey.