Grosmont Map, The: The Landscape and Vernacular Buildings of an Elizabethan Map of 1588


Ken Palmer

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The Grosmont Map was drawn up in 1588, at a time when there was a great development in map making techniques and expansion of map making in general in England and Wales under the Tudors. The Map covers the area that then comprised the Manor of Grosmont, a total of 17 square miles, and was created to help illustrate a mill dispute that had reached the stage of a legal hearing. The case concerned the recent construction of two mills that were taking trade away from the manorial mill and whether that mill’s rights had been infringed.

To aid the deliberations of the two Commissioners deputed to hear the case, the map was drawn up with the specific intent of showing the position of various houses within the manor in relation to the position of the mills. Unlike a modern, surveyed map, the 1588 map is of an earlier tradition, drawing a picture of the Manor if seen by a bird hovering above a high point in the landscape (or a ‘birds-eye-view’ map).

In the first part of the book, Ken Palmer commences by explaining how Tudor map making developed, the specifics of the Grosmont map, the details of the Mill dispute, what is known about the mills concerned today, and what the map shows in general about the area.

In the second part he looks at the over 150 buildings, most of them of timber-framed construction, drawn on the map in some detail so that they were recognizable to the parties to the case. He suggests what the drawings tell us about the construction details of the time in terms of the style of timber work, the quality of different homes for the different social strata, treatment of windows, glazing and roofing materials used, and much besides. This is of particular interest, as the majority of houses have either disappeared altogether, or been rebuilt in stone in the 17th century or subsequently. The map shows a possibly unique picture of a late 16th-century English landscape.

Ken Palmer has lived and worked in Monmouthshire since 1971, living in the Grosmont area for the past sixteen years. Investigating the Grosmont Map utilised his long held interests in the vernacular architecture of old buildings, old maps of the area and walking the highways and byways around Grosmont.

Paperback | 96 pages | 242 x 171 mm | 2013
75 b&w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-906663-41-4


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