Hull was one of the wealthiest and most strategically important towns on the East coast of England as well as being a bulwark against Scottish invasion. It had been one of the first English coastal towns to be scientifically surveyed at the orders of King Henry VIII in the early 1540s in a series of plans now owned by the British Library.
This, the earliest of Hollar’s English maps and town plans, would have been copied from drawings that Hollar probably made on his way northwards in the suite of his patron, the Earl of Arundel in 1639. Arundel had been appointed commander-in-chief of the English forces during the so-called first ‘Bishops’ War’, that saw King Charles I’s forces confronting the army of the Scottish Covenanters. The plan of the fortifications, of the town walls and the view from the sea are presumably derived from the detailed manuscript survey undertaken by the military at the behest of Charles I in 1639 which is now in The National Archives. Hollar himself was probably solely responsible for the detailed depiction of the town itself. He shows the important buildings individually, but the private houses are standardized. His plan is influenced in overall conception by John Speed’s 1611 plan, which had previously been the standard image.
Part of the King's Topographical Collection, it is possible that Hollar etched this plan, view, and contextual map as a commercial undertaking. Against all the odds, the original copperplate from which it was printed survived and is the sole surviving Hollar copperplate for a map. Over the centuries it was used to create further impressions before being purchased by the British Library.