Map of Falmouth Haven and the River Fal as far as Truro


This 16th century drawing describes the Fal estuary in Cornwall, from Falmouth (the mouth of the river Fal) to Truro. The inclusion of Pendennis and St Mawes Castles suggest that the drawing was made after the 1540s, when the two castles were built. These castles formed part of a defensive chain built by King Henry VIII (1491–1547) after a peace treaty was signed by King Francis I of France (1494–1547) and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain (1500–1550) in 1538, making invasion of England probable. 

This drawing was probably made as a record of this vulnerable area of the coast for defensive purposes. It is possible that this drawing may date from 1598–1599 when the military engineer Paul Ivey was responsible for strengthening St Mawes and Pendennis following the threat posed by the 3rd Spanish Armada to England, and the Cornish coast, in 1597. Despite the accurate plotting of key castles, towns and defensive structures on this map, much of the detail – including the depictions of the castles, and the naval battle in the top left – can only be described as fanciful. However, the clover leaf pattern in the bottom left hand corner is does represent an accurate ground plan of St Mawes Castle: though, a later hand may have drawn this in an attempt to correct the inaccuracy of its pictorial depiction in this drawing.

Full title:
Map of Falmouth Haven and the River Fal as far as Truro
c. 1550-1600
Manuscript / Illustration / Map
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton Augustus I i f.37

Full catalogue details

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