Amongst The British Library’s huge array of special collections is the Crace Collection of maps of London. This amazing archive of historical maps and plans of England’s capital was gathered together by 19th century interior designer Frederick Crace, and purchased for the British Library in 1880. Luckily for those with an interest in maps (and London) the entire collection is available to view in the form of an online exhibition.
It’s fascinating to see how urban cartography (and the English language) has developed since, for example, John Norden’s “A guide for Country men in the famous cittey of LONDON by the helpe of wich plot they shall be able to know how farr it is to any Street…” (below) was engraved in 1653.
The collection is littered with lovely examples of the draughtsman’s art, including John Rennie’s Plans of Old & New London Bridge with an elevation of New London Bridge, circa 1831. (Below)