Old Map of Hertfordshire
Old Map of Hertfordshire Detail from an old map of Hertfordshire Old Town Plan of Hertford

Hertfordshire – an old map by John Speed


An Old Map of Hertfordshire by John Speed

The most striking part of this antique map is the clear recording of the major rivers flowing North, West and South, most important of which was the river Lea running through Waltham Abbey to the river Thames. Historically, Hertfordshire has always been home to a disproportionately large number of country houses, built as retreats from the hurly-burly of London by the many of the government officials and administrators.

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Available in two sizes: Large: 24″ x 31″ (78.7 x 61cms)   Medium: 18″ x 24″ (45.5 x 61cms)  Small: 19.5″ x 14″ (49.5 x 35.5cms)

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This historical online map features town plans of Hertford and St. Albans (Verulamium) – its great church built at the Norman conquest had survived the Reformation and was even then a popular site for the curious 17th century visitor. John Speed commented on the climate of Hertfordshire – “neither too hot nor too cold and with air temperature, sweet and healthful” and “desitute of nothing that ministreth profit or pleasure of life” and a fond and charming annalist once emphasized a quality of Hertfordshire which time is not likely to destroy, though some new rural factories may one day affect it. Thomas Fuller, travelling through the county on the conclusion of the Civil War, after expressing his joy at the singing of the birds and the sweetness of the flowers, added, “It is the garden of England” (a phrase appropriated by Kent) “for delight and men commonly say that such who buy a house in Hertfordshire pay two years’ purchase for the air thereof” And, indeed, the air flows freely, for the valleys, made by rivers trickling down from Chiltern ridges, are open and gentle; and the uplands, though seldom more than some four hundred feet, are higher than the surrounding levels of Essex, Cambridge, Bedford, if not of Buckinghamshire and Middlesex. A more widely known tribute was written some one hundred and fifty years later. It might have been expected, so strong and affectionate is county patriotism throughout England, that constant epithets would have been attached, say, to Sussex, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Devon and the rest; yet Hertfordshire remains conspicuous for possessing at least two, bound to it by the strong chain of alliteration. 

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