The Imperial Guide


This unusual circular map, with the central image of the New Bath at Tunbridge Wells, gives a pleasingly three-dimensional idea of the possible excursions that tourists could make, using the town as a base. The text describes the numbered journeys out of the town, acting as a key for the numerous small and delicate images of the topographical sights with which the traveller would meet. It also gives commentary (and advice) remarking of Tunbridge Wells that ‘the principal Promenade of the fashionable is the parade’ and that the ‘fertile scenery [which] crouds in variety’ of the River Medway is ‘pleasant’. An asterisk in the text marks the location of inns.

The map showing routes between Reading and Bath includes numerous small and elegant vignettes (neatly hand-coloured) of the towns, country houses, and topographical features (such as the standing stones at Avebury and the White Horse at Westbury) along the roads. The principal and most recognisable structures of each place are picked out and somewhat exaggerated – thus in Bath, the hill behind the Abbey is dominated by fashionable crescents and many other settlements are distinguished by the spire of a church.

The actual roads are almost incidental to the topographical images, comprised merely of thin and meandering dotted lines, snaking between the places of interest.

Full title:
The Imperial Guide, with picturesque plans of the great post-roads, containing miniature likenesses ... of the cities, towns ... public edifices, and private buildings, situated in and near such thoroughfares. Also a ... description of all the celebrated scenery and local events connected with the above mentioned subjects, etc. (Home Beauties, as communicated to the author of the Imperial Guide ... for an illuminated appendix to that work.).
1799, London
Charles Whittingham
Book / Map / Engraving / Hand colouring
James Baker
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

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