Long Wall, Sally Wall: one of the earliest surveys of Bermondsey
By ATKINSON, James , 1696
£12,000
BUY

An Actuall Survey of Long Wall Sally Wall and Gallo Alis Gally Wall.

  • Author: ATKINSON, James
  • Publication place: [London],
  • Publication date: April, 1696.
  • Physical description: Manuscript map, pen and ink with wash colour, on two sheets of vellum.
  • Dimensions: 600 by 850mm. (23.5 by 33.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 21948

Notes

One of the earliest maps of Bermondsey, by local cartographer, James Atkinson, whose premises were at Cherry Garden Stairs on Rotherhithe Wall. The beautiful map shows the iconic embanked roads, "Long Wall", "Sally Wall", and "Gally Wall", that followed the old boundaries of the priory of St Mary Overie in Southwark, which encompass large parts of modern-day Bermondsey and Rotherhithe. At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, in the sixteenth century, these embankments had been known as Longe Wall, Sallow Wall and Gallows Wall, names which conjure some grisly images of their historical function.

The map provides information in the immediate vicinity of the roads (or "walls"). Bermondsey was sparsely populated at the time, with the majority of the land set aside for agriculture, and especially fruit cultivation, such as cherries, and pleasure gardens, and it is possible that the map remains unfinished, with only four fields surveyed and a fifth above "Pinfould Meads", only outlined in green.

Whatever its state of completeness, the map does include reference to two landmarks that had emerged in the Restoration period: the Cherry Garden pleasure gardens and Jamaica House, a handsome baroque-style house built from the proceeds of trade in the West Indies that later became a tavern.

The diarist Samuel Pepys visited both with his family and servants on Sunday, April 14, 1667, writing: "Over the water to the Jamaica house, where I never was before, and then the girls did run wagers on the bowling-green, and there with much pleasure spent but little, and so home".

Also marked is the Blue Anchor ("Blew Ancker"), which formed part of the old monastic buildings. It has been suggested that the name derives from Anchorite nuns, who often wore blue vestments. The land is currently occupied by the Blue Anchor pub, which opened its doors in 1876.

James Atkinson Senior (c1645-1719)
The map is the work of James Atkinson Senior, who had premises at Cherry Garden Stairs on Rotherithe (or Redriff) Wall - marked "Reddrif Wall" on the map - and also in St Saviour's Dock.

Mathematical instrument maker, chart maker, and teacher of navigation, Atkinson Sr., was apprenticed to the instrument maker and mathematician Andrew Wakely whose premises was on Redridff Wall in the late 1650s, and admitted to the Clockmakers' Company as Brother in 1668. James would take over Wakely's business, and most likely premises, in around 1670, with his son, also James Atkinson, continuing the business following is death in 1719. James junior run the business with his wife who had an "equal partnership in Trade" until 1729.

Atkinson's most enduring works were the 'Epitome of the Art of Navigation', first published in 1686; and 'The Mariner's Compass Rectified', first published by his master Andrew Wakely in 1633. Both works would continue to be published by Mount and Page, with little revision, throughout the eighteenth century. He would also collaborate with some of the leading mapmakers and publishers of his day, including John Seller and John Thorton, with whom he published the seminal 'English Pilot'.

An advertisement in 'The Mariner's Compass Rectified', provides further information on Atkinson's business:

"At Cherry-Gardens-Stairs on Rotherhith-Wall, are taught these Mathematical Sciences, Viz.

Arithmetik (sic), Geometry, Trigonometry, Navigation, Astronomy, Dialling, Surveying, Gauging, Gunnery, Fortification, Merchants Accompts, and Algebra.

The Use of the Globes, and all the Mathematical Instruments; the Projection of the Sphere on any Circle, By James Atkinson.

There are also made and sold all sorts of Mathematical Instruments, in Wood or Brass, for Sea or Land, with Books to shew the Use of them: Where also you may have all sorts of Maps, Plats, Sea-Charts, in Plain or Mercator, at Reasonable Rates".

The advertisement emphasises the numerous courses that were taught at their premises, all of which were intended to furnish the merchant mariner with the tools needed to trade with all the corners of the world. The growth in these classes, coincided with the advent of the coffee house. The great meeting places of Restoration London, where goods and ideas were freely traded; and it is most likely that Atkinson's premises was - as Larry Stuart suggests - both shop and coffee house.

Whatever the shop's structure, both father and son were suitably well known, that in 1713 they were one of the major signatories of a petition against the Schism Bill - the purpose of which was to curtail the ability of nonconformists to engage in any form of teaching at all. Although - due to the death of Queen Anne, and the ascendancy of the Whigs - the bill never became an Act, it was not the first time that the Atkinson's faith had led them into to trouble with the state. In 1684, James was called as witness for the defence in the trial of the nonconformist preacher Thomas Rosewell for treason. James and his children had been present at a sermon in which Rosewell had allegedly spoken ill of the King, and, although Rosewell was found guilty he would late be pardoned by Charles II.

Rarity
Seventeenth century large scale manuscript maps of any area of London are exceptionally rare on the market.

Bibliography

  1. Generations in Towns: Succession and Success in Pre-Industrial Urban Societies
  2. Taylor, Mathematical Practioners, 312b.

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