Derek Keene, former HTT Trustee

It's with great sadness that we note the death of Professor Derek Keene who was for a long time a trustee of the Historic Towns Trust and the co-editor of the volume on Winchester.  A historian of international renown, his contribution to the Trust was great and he will be much missed by colleagues and friends.

An obituary and appreciation of Derek Keene by current trustee Prof Matthew Davies appears on the website of the Institute of Historical Research.

HTT online lecture series continues

A series of on-line lectures on subjects related to the history and growth of towns has been organised by the Historic Towns Trust throughout the spring and early summer 2021. Full details can be found under the 'Lectures' tab on the menu above.

The next lecture is on Monday 24 May from 5 to 6 pm and is given by Professor Helen Fulton of the University of Bristol and the HTT and by Giles Darkes, Cartographic Editor at the HTT and is entitled Making Bristol Medieval.  The event (free to attend) can be booked through Eventbrite, and details can be found on the Lecture page.

Historical Map of Canterbury now published

Canterbury is one of England’s best-known and most visited cities. It is also one of its most historic.

Founded before the Roman conquest, the city became a Roman provincial capital with a theatre and temple complex. After Augustine arrived in 597, Canterbury was a key Christian centre and eventually the seat of England’s premier archbishop. Following the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in the cathedral in 1170, it was a focus of European pilgrimage. After the Reformation it became a centre of trade and commerce and a regional capital as well as continuing to be a major church centre.

The map is the result of a collaboration with Canterbury Arcaheological Trust and Canterbury Christ Church University.  The challenge has been to show the palimpsest that is Canterbury in a clear way, illustrating the way that the city has developed over the many centuries since its foundation.  The map reverse carries an extensive essay on Roman Canterbury's development as well as details of its historic sites.

More details can be found here.  The map can be ordered from your favourite book retailer.

Map of Bristol in 1480 published

A map of Bristol in 1480 was published before just before Christmas 2020.  It's been a year-long project to produce a map of the city described by William Worcestre on a visit to his sister, and to his native town, in 1480.  He carefully recorded the dimensions of the buildings and their functions, allowing us to re-create what the city looked like.  Added to his description, we have archaeological and documentary evidence of buildings and - remarkably - there is still a layer of medieval Bristol to be discovered today.

The map has been compiled by a team of historians and archaeologists, including the former and current Bristol City Archaeologists.  The map carries a very comprehensive gazetteer of the sites shown on it, giving a short history of each of them. It also has a fascinating section detailing and explaining the different types of townhouses that Bristol had in its early years.

More details can be found here.  The map can be ordered from your favourite book retailer.

Map of Coventry has gone to press

Early June 2021 will see the publication of another map in the Trust's Town and City Historical maps series: Coventry.  Coventry is UK City of Culture 2021 and, as part of the celebration, we have been working hard to produce a map of a city which most people associate largely with post-war architecture and the car industry.  And yet Coventry was a medieval boom town, for four years the de facto capital of England, and granted the status of a 'city county' in its right.

The background map of the city shows Coventry in 1913 when its medieval layout was still absolutely evident. It would not be long before the city fathers planned its redevelopment, and the destruction of the second World War led to the wholesale re-ordering of much of the city centre  But the map shows the many small (and large) industrial premises that could be found right in the heart of the city, many of them becoming household names: Triumph, Rover, Starley Bicycles, Humber, Maudslay. Superimposed on the medieval city, they make for a fascinating juxtaposition.


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.

Map of Tudor London revised and reprinted

The Map of Tudor London has been reprinted and has been available again since early March 2020.  We've taken the opportunity to review and revise it and undertaken some minor corrections.  There are additional names to streets in Southwark, and the Tower of London has been revised to better reflect the layout and names (for example of towers on the curtain wall) which were there in 1520. We have added street markets as well.  The directory of streets and buildings on the reverse has also been updated to reflect the additional information we have included.

The map is available from all good bookshops and on-line retailers with a RRP of £9.99.


Ambitious plans for more atlases

The Trust has ambitious plans to produce atlases of a large number of towns and cities across Great Britain, and to address the relative lack of towns in Wales and Scotland that have been covered to date.  A long list of possible towns and cities has been drawn up, including not only Welsh and Scottish towns but industrial cities in the north of England.  We are now looking at which of those may be suitable for further research and which may lend themsleves to an atlas project.  For an atlas to be produced, a local team has to be assembled and money raised to pay for its production. Given that an atlas costs of the order of £80,000 to £100,000 to produce, each project that we embark on has to be accompanied by a substantial fund-raising campaign, and running such a campaign takes time and patience. We hope that the next atlas in the series will be of Canterbury, as noted above.

The trust is also set to embark on a substantial fundraising campaign to increase its core capital, to fund the administration and project management that accompanies its work and which has grown as its output has also increased. To that end, we are delighted that Dr Alice Prochaska has joined the trustees to help head development and fundraising.  Dr Prochaska was until recently Principal of Somerville College, Oxford and is also an historian of repute.  We are delighted that she has offered to lend her substantial experience and expertise to the trust.

Using atlas material

The Historic Towns Trust is always pleased when researchers use maps from the Historic Towns Atlas volumes for research and illustrative purposes.  Recently, we've given permission to use two maps of Cambridge from volume II to be adapted as illustrations for a collection of essays on Commemoration in Medieval Cambridge. We've also been asked if the map of London in 1520 can be used and enhanced with additional information on legal inns in the Holborn area.

Further details on how to ask permission for use of maps can be found here.  If it's for a legitimate purpose that complements the HTT's charitable aims, we usually say 'yes'!