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Plan of Dover Harbour

Plan of Dover Harbour

Cartographer: Unknown

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1552

Shelfmark: Add MS 69824

Item number: A

Length: 67.4

Width: 169.3

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Plan

This is an anonymous plan of proposals for Dover harbour dating from 1552. It is titled 'ffor dovour pere. Thys platt exhibited vnto the kinges maiesties (?) most honorable pryvey counsell the xxiith daye of the monthe of november anno regis Edwardi Sexti sexto: de domini 1552. It is drawn and finished to a high standard, suggesting that it is a show plan intended for presentation.
The map extends from Dover Castle to Folkestone. The surrounding area is shown schematically in yellow but is largely obscured by a large, pictorial cartouche containing an explanation of the proposals derived from a separate written statement. Dover Harbour is seen from an imaginary viewpoint to the north-east. The view of the town is considerable foreshortened. The sea is shown at high tide. South-West is at the top and there is a compass rose with North, South, East and West marked schematically with a crescent moon, sun, fleur-de-lys and star.
The plan illustrates a variation on the proposals of 1541, shown in a map by Richard Cavendish, for the enclosure of Dover Harbour behind two immense piers stretching south from the old town and north, in this case, from Crane Head with further jetties envisaged to the south of the King's Pier and Archcliff ('Heckclyfe').
Outlines of the continuation of the pier from Crane Head are visible under the blue of the sea suggesting that there were intentions to continue on the shore side behind the pier from the North, but this idea seems to have been abandoned in the process of drawing the plan.
The stylistic treatment of the depiction of the sea, the compass star, the land and the buildings, suggests that the draughtsman of this map is the same individual who created an anonymous Dover plan, convincingly dated about 1532 and is likely to have been by a painter rather than an engineer or surveyor. In contrast, this plan represents features of the harbour in a less artistic, more cartographic style. The proposed piers are shown in plan and not, as on the 1532 plan, as if completed. These developments in presentation may be a result of the presence of Sir Richard Lee, a regular visitor to Dover and probable draughtsman of a 1538 view of Dover and of a plan of Orwell Haven where the same presentation methods are employed.

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