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Saxton & Willdey: Cambridge-Shire and The Great Level of ye Fenns

Map: CAMBS137
Cartographer: Saxton & Willdey
Title: Cambridge-Shire and The Great Level of ye Fenns
Date: c. 1732
Published: London
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 16 inches / 41 cm
Map ref: CAMBS137
Stunning county map of Cambridgeshire from the scarce 1732 edition of Christopher Saxton's atlas published by George Willdey.

Willdey purchased many of Christopher Saxton's copperplates from the estate of Philip Lea's widow, Anne, around 1730 and reprinted the maps for sale in his "Toy, Spectacle, China Ware & Print Shop" near St. Paul's, London.

This map is a curious amalgan of the work of many important early English mapmakers. While many of the maps in the atlas were printed using Saxton's original copper-plates, the map of Cambridgeshire was missing from the set that Willdey purchased, and so this new map was added in its place. It is based on an important 1658 map by Sir Jonas Moore, the official surveyor to the Fen drainage company headed by the Earl of Bedford, and a major driving force behind the draining of the Fens. Moore's trigonometric survey of Cambridgeshire was a major improvement on the maps of his predecessors, Saxton and Speed, and it also featured all of the new waterworks which had been constructed for the draining of the Fens, including embankments, canals, and dykes.

Despite the updates, many decorative elements from earlier maps were retained to make the map attractive to customers, including the inset city plan of Ely which is copied directly from John Speed's map of 1611. The city plan of Cambridge is not derived from Speed and is much more contemporary to the map. The coats of arms of the University of Cambridge and its colleges are also copied from Speed.

Original hand-colour. [CAMBS137]