Archived news

Welcome to a new Trustee

We are delighted to welcome John Moore as a trustee of the Historic Towns Trust.  John has an impressive experience of maps and mapping. He worked at the University of Glasgow Library for nearly forty years before recently retiring. He is an active researcher in the history of cartography and has published extensively on the history of the mapping of Scotland and, in particular, produced a bibliographical guide to the history of Scottish cartography.  More recently, he is the author of two successful books entitled Glasgow: mapping the city (2015) and The Clyde: mapping the river (2017). At present, he is in the final stages of preparing a book on the mapping of Scottish towns. We very much look forward to working with John and to expanding the Trust's presence in Scotland.

Archived 29 June 2021

Map of Medieval London launched

In the wake of the success of the Map of Tudor London, and the wide interest in mapping the city of London that exists, we have produced a Map of Medieval London, presenting a view of how the city looked between about 1270 and 1300.  This was still the city that Thomas Becket knew. It's religious foundations were still be shaped, and their presence in the city was much less noticeable than it was in 1520, but they were there nonetheless.  The map also includes Westminster around 1290; at that time London and Westminster were even more distinct settlements than they were in 1520, London the seat of commerce and a much larger population, Westminster the seat of the King at Westminster Palace, and the site of England's most significant religious foundation at (Benedictine) Westminster Abbey.  The map was published on October 21st 2019.

The map was launched at Skinners' Hall in the City of London on October 21st, by kind permission of the Master and Warden of the Worshipful Company of Skinners.  We were very pleased to have Sir Simon Jenkins as guest of honour.  Sir Simon, who has just published A Short History of London, gave a fascinating talk on how Londoners have three times avoided the complete reconstruction of their city - probably against their will!  The launch was attended by over a hundred people and sales of the new map were brisk.

Sir Simon Jenkins and HTT Chair Prof Keith Lilley at the map launch

The launch event at Skinners' Hall

Archived 18 Feb 2021

Layers of London Webinar

The Historic Towns Trust's cartographic editor, Giles Darkes, took part in a webinar on Thursday 28th May explaining the way that the maps of medieval London and Tudor London were created.  These maps are two of many maps of the nation's capital that form part of the Layers of London project where viewers can fade maps of different periods in and out and compare them to a base-map layer which shows London as it is today.

The two maps are part of the series produced by the Trust, and are available in printed form as well as on the Layers of London website. 

If you're interested to see the webinar and learn more about how the maps were made, the webinar is available to see on YouTube here. Archived 2 Dec 2020

Oxford atlas and Radley History Club

Trustee and map-addict Nick Millea gave a talk to Radley History Club, in Oxfordshire, in March 2020, and the following report has been written by them:

'On 9 March, Nick Millea, Bodleian Map Librarian, presented a fascinating selection of old and new maps of Oxford. They will be collected and described in the British Historic Towns Atlas Volume VII: Oxford, to be published in autumn 2020.

'The famous early map by Ralph Agas (1578) gives a detailed ‘bird’s flight’ view of the city from the north. The original is darkened and worn, but the Bodleian also has Robert Whittlesey’s clear re-engraving made in 1728. On Agas’s map, the city centre still includes many gardens, and there is open country north of Broad Street.

'David Loggan’s beautiful map of 1675 shows the city centre more crowded. Every building is depicted, again viewed from the north. Loggan included minute details, such as a (still existing) kink in the wall of Trinity College.

'The noted antiquary Anthony Wood had in his collection an anonymous (and unexplained) map of ‘Oxforde as it now lyeth / Fortified by his Ma[jes]ties forces an. 1644’. It shows the Thames running southwards to ‘Abbington’, but flips the north and south of the city. Wood annotated it as ‘made very false’.

'The Atlas will include specially prepared new maps, showing for example the halls which preceded the colleges, medieval inns, the (very complicated) city parish boundaries, watercourses, turnpike roads around Oxford, and the growth of the suburbs.

'Answering questions after his talk, Nick Millea confirmed the existence of a very detailed map of Oxford prepared secretly by the Central Staff of the Soviet military. Mysteriously, it identifies a sub-post office in Marston, and University College, but no other colleges or university buildings.' Archived 2 Dec 2020

An Historical Map of York published

The Historic Towns Trust has published a new version of its successful Historical Map of York 

The original version was published by Old House Books in 2012 but has been out of print for several years, with frequent requests for it to be made available again. The HTT has now published a new edition, in its Town and City Historical Maps series.

The format is as other T&CHM maps: an OS-style folding card cover containg a folded map sheet. On the reverse, the map sheet carries a gazetteer of the buildings and sites of interest shown on the map, along with an explanation of many of York's street names and a list of the city's churches - more than 45 of them.

The gazetteer is now illustrated in full colour, with many charming and informative images from the extensive collection of paintings and drawings of York held by the York Art Gallery.

The map is now available from bookshops and on-line retailers, priced at £9.99.  More details can be found here.

(Archived 25 November 2019)

London in 1520

The Trust's map of Tudor London - London in about 1520 - is now available!

Based on the very successful map of London which first appeared in Volume III of the atlas series, the map has been completely revised and updated, as well as being expanded to cover a larger geographical area, including parts of Southwark for the first time.

The new edition of the map categorises the buildings of Tudor London (separating out parish churches from other religious buildings; showing the many livery company halls, for example) and is printed in full colour.

The reverse of the sheet has a map of London's wards in 1520 as well as a comprehensive directory of all the streets and buildings shown on the map, complete with grid references.

The map is now on sale, and its recommended retail price is only £8.99 - that's a lot of map for the money!

More information about the map can be found here.

(Archived 25th November 2019)

Professor Caroline Barron awarded OBE

One of the Historic Towns Trust's trustees, Professor Caroline Barron, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2019 for services to education.  Caroline is Professor Emerita of the History of London at Royal Holloway University, and a former Chair of the Trust, and has been involved in historical education since graduating.  The honour is richly deserved and all the trustees send their congratulations to her.

(Archived 6 Sep 2019)

HTT Chair wins RGS medal

Professor Keith Lilley, Chair of the Historic Towns Trust and Professor of Historical Geography at Queen's University Belfast, has been awarded the Cuthbert Peek Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.

The medal is awarded by the RGS (with IBG) and the citation for Professor Lilley says 'For advancing geographical knowledge through the application of contemporary methods, including GIS and mapping'. Sir Cuthbert Peek (1855-901) was a meteorologist, astronomer and all-round geographer, and a council member of the Royal Geographical Society.  He endowed the RGS with the medal to honour those who advance geographical knowledge. 

Keith is a very worthy recipient of this medal (which was presented on June 4th), and it is a great honour that he should be the HTT's chair and a driving force for the advancement of the HTT's work.  His colleagues in the HTT send him hearty congratulations.

(Archived 10 April 2019)


HTT at a meeting of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas

Professor Keith Lilley, Chair of the Historic Towns Trust, was a key speaker at an international meeting in Dublin in May 2018 hosted by the Royal Irish Academy, the body behind the Irish Historic Towns Atlas.  Professor Roey Sweet, of Leicester University and the Arts and Humanities Research Council and one of the Historic Towns Trust's trustees, gave a keynote presentation at the meeting, which looked at comparative studies between towns and cities in different European countries.

During the two-day event, Prof Lilley presented the British Ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett, with a copy of the British Historic Towns Atlas of Windsor and Eton, volume IV in our series.


Professor Keith Lilley (fourth from left) presents Robin Barnett, British Ambassador to Ireland, with a copy of the Historic Towns Atlas volume IV Windsor and Eton, at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.  Other people present are key members of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas team

Archived 10 April 2019


Winchester Atlas published on November 15th!

Historic Towns Atlas volume VI - Winchester - was published on November 15th 2017.  After many years work and huge effort by a team of researchers, led by Professor Martin Biddle of Oxford University and the Winchester Excavations Committee, the atlas was published in November. It was officially launched that day in Winchester's Guildhall where a large group of guests was able to inspect the atlas. Sales were brisk!

Our thanks to the Mayor of Winchester and Winchester City Council for generously hosting the occasion and making it such a success.

The atlas (also published as volume 11 of the ongoing Winchester Studies series) is the most comprehensive that the Trust has yet published.  It has an extensive introductory text explaining Winchester's development as England's second-most important pre-Conquest city, and its subsequent development as a royal, then legal and commercial stronghold, its gentle decline in importance and its resurgence as a prosperous county town and tourist destination. There are about 80+ illustrations covering all aspects of its urban landscape, and about 18 colour maps, as well as many additional maps illustrating specific themes in Winchester's history.

The atlas will be a major contribution to urban history.

The atlas retails for £70.00.  The book is available from your usual bookseller, or can be ordered directly from Oxbow Books . Further details about the atlas can be found can be found on the atlas's webpage.

(archived 23 April 2018)

Four workshops on Medieval Street Life announced

The Historic Towns Trust has teamed up with Dr James Davis of Queen's University Belfast to offer workshops on medieval street life in four of Britain's historic towns across the winter and early spring.  The events are funded by the British Academy and organised through the Medieval Street Life project which is directed by Dr Davis at Queen's.

Everyone with an interest in discovering how people lived, worked and worshipped  in medieval times is welcome to come along to these events.  There are different subjects for lectures in each city, and the core of them is about medieval street life in general and how the British Historic Towns Atlas can help to explain the townscapes of each city. The workshops in Bristol, Norwich and York include an optional walking tour to get a feel for the medieval city, as well as short lectures.

The workshops in Norwich and York are free to attend.  The Bristol workshop costs £3.00 and the London workshop £5.00. For each workshop, please register in advance, and if you would like to come on the walking tours please register separately for them.

The events in Bristol, London, Norwich, and York will take place as follows:

  • Norwich - Sunday 21st January 2018 - at Norwich Cathedral
  • Bristol - Sunday 18th February 2018 - at The Watershed
  • York - Friday 23rd February 2018 - at the King's Manor (the University of York's Centre for Medieval Studies)
  • London - Friday 16th March 2018 - Barnard's Inn, Holborn (Gresham College).

At the foot of this page are PDF flyers for each event.  They include a clickable link to the registration page for each event, and the e-mail address of Dr Davis for further information.

Do come along!  You will be most welcome.

(Archived 23 March 2018)

A new historical map of Winchester published

Following on the success of the Historical Map of Oxford, the HTT and the Winchester Excavations Committee have published a similar map of Winchester.

An extract from the principal map in the forthcoming volume on Winchester has been published as a folded sheet map, with a card cover. The map shows the city of Winchester in about 1800, with all the main medieval and post-medieval public buildings marked.

A similar map was published in 2012 by Old House Books, now out of print.  This new map represents a substantially revised and updated version of that map, in a new easier-to-use format. The map has more medieval buildings shown than on the first edition, including the sites of the lost Old Minster and New Minster and their associated buildings, and recent archaeological finds including the huge medieval hall at St Cross.


The front cover of the map

The map has an illustrated gazetteer of Winchester's main buildings on the reverse, with readable and concise historical information.  The illustrations are now in full colour and include many pictures of Winchester never before published.

An extract from the gazetteer

The map was published on 22nd October 2016 and is available in Winchester outlets, by order through any bookshop or through on-line retailers.

Publication of the map has been made possible by a very generous grant from the Avocet Charitable Trust and we would like to thank the Trust for its kind help.

Price £8.99   ISBN 978-0-9934698-1-7

(Archived 7 December 2017)

York volume goes to a third print

We're delighted to announce that the latest volume from the Historic Towns Trust - York - has continued to sell well and as a result, has undergone a third printing, to ensure that stocks do not run out.

The atlas is in the new format of a portfolio of maps, illustrations and text. It has 25 or so sheets of maps and illustrations, with more than 80 illustrations of the city (including reproductions of some of York's earliest and most interesting historic maps). The atlas includes an informative and very readable introduction to the history of York.

The cover of the volume on York


The atlas can be ordered through any bookshop, on-line or direct from Oxbow Books - price £70.00 (plus postage and packing if applicable).

(Archived 7 December 2017)

Gordon Forster

We are sad to announce that one of the Historic Towns Atlas's longest-serving supporters, Gordon Forster, died on the 22nd July 2017. 

Gordon was for many years a trustee of the Historic Towns Trust and acted as Honorary Secretary for many of its meetings, carefully noting the proceedings in long hand and producing an immaculate copy for typing up.  Latterly, when Gordon ceased to be able to be a more active member of the Trust, he was very pleased to become an Emeritus Member.

Gordon was a Senior Lecturer in, and Chairman of, the School of  History, University of Leeds through most of his working life having been an undergraduate there.  He was known for his encouragement of the study of local and regional history, bringing it to the department at a time when it was regarded as a second-rate area of research.  He was also - for fifty years - the editor of the journal Northern History.

Gordon had a very close association with the Historic Towns Atlas of York (Vol. V) and helped to shape the contents of the chapter devoted to York's early modern history, contributing much scholarship to that section and to its maps.

Gordon Forster was a scholarly and meticulous researcher, but also a kind and approachable man, down to earth and practical, with a gentle sense of humour. He was also a true gentleman, diplomatic in his language and gracious and considerate towards other people.

An obituary by colleagues at the University of Leeds can be found on the University's School of History web pages.

(Archived 20 Sept 2017)

London Map and London's Clerks

Professor Malcolm Richardson, Taylor Professor of English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, has been using the map of London in 1520 to form the background for a project to record the known locations of clerks in late medieval London.  Professor Richardson has used the map, which first appeared in Volume III and has since been published separately, to map a number of aspects of the clerks of London.

Professor Richardson and his wife Gabriele (a GIS expert) have taken part of the map, originally produced by M.D.Lobel and Henry Johns, to make a series of new maps which give geographical locations to the clerks.  Prof Richardson gave a presentation to the American Association of Geographers using five maps which he and his wife created:

  1. All (or most) legal inns, including the Inns of Court, c.1350-1470
  2. The Inns of Chancery, c.1450-1470
  3. Legal inns associated with clerks of the royal chancery to c.1417
  4. Legal inns associated with chancery clerks which later became Inns of Chancery
  5. Inns leased by married chancery clerks

One of the maps produced by Gabriele and Malcolm Richardson

Professor Richardson writes about the map of 'Inns of Married Chancery Clerks':

'The map suggests not only that a significant number of early London legal inns were run not by lawyers but by clerks of the royal chancery, who served as instructors of legal writing, but that many of these innkeeper-teacher-clerks were married and were assisted in running their hospicia by their wives. Apparently the royal clerks, who were supposed to be celibate members of the clergy at that time, were willing to forego advancement in the bureaucracy by marrying, and consequently female inn managers played a larger role in the legal inns than has been thought.'

More information on the project and on Professor Richardson can be found at his website.

(archived 31 January 2017)

HTT publishes an Historical Map of Oxford

The Historic Towns Trust has launched its own imprint entitled Town and City Historical Maps. The first publication under this new venture is An Historical Map of Oxford which is now available and was launched officially on January 21st 2016.  The launch took place in the Divinity School of the Bodleian Library Oxford. At the launch, an invited audience was able to see the map in the context of some of the best-known maps of Oxford such as David Loggan's maps of the 1670s and Ralph Agas's map of the late 16th century, which were on display in the Divinity School's proscholium.

The map, derived from the principal map of the British Historic Towns Atlas of Oxford (due for publication in 2017) shows the city of Oxford's main medieval and post-medieval public buildings in the context of the city in 1876.  The first large-scale OS map of the city has been selectively digitised and forms the background for displaying the complex topographical development of Oxford, one of Europe's most iconic university cities.

The cover of the Historical Map of Oxford

The map also carries a gazetteer of the most important sites and buildings shown on this map. Of interest to local historians, family historians, and to those who know this remarkable city well, the full-colour map is now available, priced £8.99.  More details can be found here.

Julian Munby, head of buildings archaeology at Oxford Archaeology, Trustee of the Historic Towns Trust, and one of the authors behind the Historical Map of Oxford spoke about the map, historic Oxford and how the map helps people to understand Oxford's history on BBC Radio Oxford's Bill Heine show on Sunday 17th January. 

The map was also featured, complete with many extracts from it as illustrations, in a fascinating and informative article by Malcolm Graham (contributor to the map and to the Oxford atlas project) in the Limited Edition supplement to the Oxford Times, published on Thursday 7th January.

(archived 31 January 2017)

Professor James Campbell

It is with great sadness that the Historic Towns Trust has to report that it has lost one of its longest-serving members, Professor James Campbell FBA FSA, who died at the end of May.

Professor Campbell had long been a trustee and member of the Trust, and a valued contributor to the whole atlas project.  He was the author of the atlas of Norwich which appeared in volume II.  Latterly, with failing health, he had become an Emeritus Member of the Historic Towns Trust, playing a less active role, but continuing to take a keen interest in the Trust's current projects. 

Born in 1935, he attended Lowestoft Grammar School and was then an Exhibitioner at Magdalen College, Oxford.  Most of his academic career was spent in Oxford as a Fellow of Worcester College and latterly as Reader (1990 to 1996) and then Professor (1996 to 2002) of Medieval History in the University of Oxford.  His area of speciality was Anglo-Saxon England.

An obituary of Professor Campbell by Charles Insley from History Today can be found here.

(archived 26 October 2016)

Historic Towns Atlas of York featured in The Times and the Yorkshire Post

The Times newspaper of Saturday 10th September 2016 (page 82) has an article about the British Historic Towns Atlas volume on York.  In discusssion with the volume's editor, Dr Peter Addyman, the Times's archaeology correspondent Norman Hammond shows how valuable the atlas is in illustrating York's complex and evolving history. Mr Hammond also discusses the genesis of the atlas project and what the future may hold for digital versions of the York atlas, and also other atlases in the continuing series.  Mr Hammond describes how York, as a Northern powerhouse, 'has been splendidly documented' by the atlas.

The Yorkshire Post of Saturday 15th October, in its colour Magazine, also featured an article about Dr Addyman and the atlas under the heading 'Chart legend' (pages 14 and 15). The article, as well as giving a good overview of the importance of the York atlas, sets the atlas in the context of the British Historic Towns Atlas project in general.

(archived 25 November 2017)

Oxford Atlas makes significant progress

The Historic Towns Atlas of Oxford is making significant progress, and funding to complete it has been given a boost following the launch of the Historical Map of Oxford described above. 

The creation of the principal map of the atlas, at a scale of 1:2500 is essentially complete and has formed the basis for the Historical Map of Oxford. We now need to produce a series of maps showing Oxford at key points in its development.

In order to complete the atlas, we need to find the funds to undertake the cartography, production and printing work necessary.  We have already received some very generous donations towards the project.  Can you help? Are you inspired by history and historical maps?  If so, please see our web page on how you can help us.

(Archived 31 Aug 2016)


Map of Roman York has magical effects!

Adam Parker, Assistant Curator of Archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, is to use the map of Roman York to illustrate a paper he is giving in April.  Adam is undertaking a PhD with the Open University on magic in the Roman world and will be giving a talk to the Roman Finds Group's conference entitled Finds from Roman York, Brigantia, and Beyond.

Adam writes: '‘Magic’, in the Roman world, is a catch-all term used to describe all of the supernatural elements of daily life that fall outside the scholarly definition of 'religion’. It has traditionally been studied alongside religion, both as a related phenomenon and as a standalone concept. As a concept, ‘magic’ is difficult to define, largely because of its complex relationship with religion and other forms of ritual practice. This paper intends to examine the range of material culture which has been variously described as ‘magical’ within its geographical, chronological and material contexts in order to assess the implications of this interlinked approach and what it can tell us about the functions of magic in the Roman world.'

The map of York around AD200, which is published in the British Historic Towns Atlas volume on York, will be used to show the location of finds in York.  Details of Adam's research can be found on his Academia page, and further information about the Roman Finds Group and its conference in York at the start of April can be found here.

(Archived July 2016)

Windsor and Eton atlas available

Historic Towns Atlas on Windsor and Eton  is also now available.  Published by the Historic Towns Trust, the atlas is distributed by Oxbow Books, at £55.00 in the UK.  An on-line order form can be found at Oxbow's website. The volume has been simultaneously published in the United States through Casemate and the price is $99.95. North American customers can order the volume here.

The atlas was launched at Windsor Castle on the 25th March 2015 when 60 distinguished guests came to the Vicars' Hall (part of the College of St George) for a reception. Dr David Lewis, the principal author of the volume, gave an entertaining and informative short introduction to the atlas, and guests had the opportunity to purchase a copy and to inspect its contents.  The atlas was enthusiastically received and the occasion had a very positive feel to it.

(Archived July 2016)