ESSEXIAE COMITAT Sheet 12
Cartographer: Saxton, Christopher
This map of Essex is from the 1583 edition of the Saxton atlas of England and Wales. TThis atlas was first published as a whole in 1579. It consists of 35 coloured maps depicting the counties of England and Wales. The atlas is of great significance to British cartography as it set a standard of cartographic representation in Britain and the maps remained the basis for English county mapping, with few exceptions, until after 1750.
During the reign of Elizabeth I map use became more common, with many government matters referring to increasingly accurate maps with consistent scales and symbols, made possible by advances in surveying techniques. Illustrating the increasing used of maps in government matters, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State, who had been determined to have England and Wales mapped in detail from the 1550s, selected the cartographer Christopher Saxton to produce a detailed and consistent survey of the country. The financier of the project was Thomas Seckford Master of Requests at the Court of Elizabeth I, whose arms appear, along with the royal crest, on each map. Relief, in the form of uniform rounded representations of hills, is the main topographical feature presented in the maps. Rather than provide a scientific representation of relative relief these give a general impression of the lie of the land. Settlements and notable buildings are also recorded pictorially; a small building with a spire represents a village, while more important towns, such as Colchester are indicated by groups of buildings. London is shown in the bottom left hand corner and although at a small scale it is shown in some detail with St Paul’s Cathedral and London Bridge leading to Southwark clearly discernable. St Paul’s is correctly shown without its steeple which was destroyed by lightning in 1561 and was not replaced.