William Smith was a haberdasher, merchant, innkeeper, writer, herald and playwright from Cheshire whose lifelong interest in heraldry led him to the position of Rouge Dragon pursuivant in the College of Arms. This Sloane Manuscripts copy of his Particuler Description of England contains descriptions of all the counties of England and Wales plus illustrations of various arms and ‘portratures of certaine of the cheiffest citties and townes’. These include plans of Canterbury, Rochester, Cambridge and Bristol, and panoramic views of Norwich and London.

According to Smith’s text, Canterbury ‘was founded by Rudhudibras, about the year of the world 3078’. He goes on to describe it as a ‘fayre and large citty, well walled, in compass round, having on the south syde the Castell, and on the north syde the goodly fayre Minster, or Cathedrall Church, called Christschurch, wherein are dyvers [many] tombes & monuments of dyvers great princes’. In his illustration, dated 10 October 1588, Smith includes a key to identifying the cathedral, churches, castle and market place.