The first printed map of Cornwall
By SAXTON, Christopher , 1579

Promontorium hoc in mare proiectum Cornubia dicitur

British Isles English Counties
  • Author: SAXTON, Christopher
  • Publication place: [London
  • Publication date: 1579].
  • Physical description: Double-page engraved map, fine original full-wash colour.
  • Inventory reference: 14553


Christopher Saxton, widely considered the father of British cartography, was the first mapmaker to comprehensively survey the counties of England and Wales. The map of the entire country was the earliest large-scale representation of England and the regional maps were, in many cases, the first for their respective areas. Published in a magnificent volume in 1579, his compilation was the first atlas devoted to the complete depiction of one country and formed the basis of English regional mapping for more than a century.

Saxton grew up in Dunningly, Yorkshire and received his early training in surveying from the town vicar, John Rudd. Educated at Cambridge, Saxton’s abilities caught the attention of Thomas Seckford, Royal Surveyor to the Queen. At this time, state officials were beginning to realize the political and administrative advantage of accurate maps, while public interest in cartography was in the midst of a dramatic surge. Largely in response to these factors, Queen Elizabeth charged Seckford with the task of procuring an atlas of England and Wales. An unprecedented standard of accuracy was achieved and in keeping with the Queen’s intention that the atlas be a symbolic statement of national prominence, all care was taken to ensure that it was also beautifully produced. Each map bears the Royal Arms as a symbol of Queen Elizabeth’s supervision and endorsement.


  1. Skelton