London: from rural patchwork to urban sprawl

  • Islington, 1818


    Trade card of T Starling, Map, Chart and Plan Engraver, incorporating miniature map of Islington, apparently derived from the survey of 1805-6. 13 x 9 cm. Peter Barber: ‘For the people who lived here, Islington was still very much a place on its own. This was much closer to London than Ealing, but it was still a rural idyll. This map has a message because it’s actually a business card and if you look carefully he has indicated his own house ‘TS’s residence’. He’s trying to associate himself with a class above the ordinary printer at the same time as he’s trying to advertise his own skills as a craftsman, and he’s doing so by appealing to innate snobbery of the sort of people who might commission work from him.’

    Alex Werner: ‘This is a nice example of somebody working very much on a local level. He lives in Islington, so he may be recording several things that wouldn’t appear on the main maps. This was one of the very rapidly growing parishes in London – by 1830 Islington’s population was as big as somewhere like Newcastle. A map like this would have gone out of date very quickly, but that’s the beauty of maps in this period – you can trace very accurately how fields are covered over. A lot of these outlying areas were market gardens, so you can see the farms and nurseries marked on this map as well as the water supply. The other great thing, is that you can go to the area today and work out that a lot of the roads are the old field boundaries. That’s what makes them so interesting.’

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