Smith Map

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Smith Map.jpg


Smith's map of 1585/8 shows only a few changes from the Braun and Hogenberg map of 1581. One notable change is that the arch under the spur-wall leading to the Watertower appears to have dried.


  • The "Horse Market" at Gorse Stacks has become a huge feature;
  • "Brewers Hall" is shown for the first time. The estate, which lay west of the city on the river cliff overlooking the Roodee, was held by the Bradford family, serjeants of the Eastgate from the 1280s. It passed to the Trussell family of Warmingham in the 14th century and from them c. 1500 to the Veres, earls of Oxford. After its sale by Edward de Vere, 17th earl, in 1580, it passed successively to Hugh Beeston, Sir Thomas Egerton, and the Wright family, whose descendant sold it in the mid 18th century to William Hanmer of Iscoyd (Flints.). Hanmer's daughter Esther married Assheton Curzon, later 1st Viscount Curzon, whose grandson and heir R. W. P. Curzon-Howe, 1st Earl Howe, developed the estate, then disparaged as 'a cold bleak hill', in the 1840s. The ancient mansion was demolished during the siege of Chester and was afterwards replaced by a farmhouse. Nowadays, a golf-club stands on the site.;
  • Love Street and Dee Lane possibly appear, as does Garden Lane;


Detail from Smith's sketch showing the Walls from the Northgate down to the Watertower.

William Smith’s (1588) plan of Chester from his “The Particuler Description of England. With the portratures of certaine of the cheiffest citties & townes” (Source: British Library, Harley MS 1046, fol. 173)

William Smith, (not to be confused with the 18th century William Smith “Father of English Geology” - also a famous map-maker), was an antiquarian and "Rouge Dragon" at the College of Heralds/College of Arms. This was an institution that specialized in genealogical work, increasingly more so during the Elizabethan age as the gentry class rose in importance. The "Rouge Dragon" is the name of one of the Pursuivants, a heraldic officer attendant on the heralds, often attached to a particular nobleman, named so because of their badges.

In 1588 Smith completed "The Particuler Description of England. With the portratures of certaine of the cheiffest citties & townes". This work consisted of drawings of English cities and towns in a traditional bird's eye view style, and combination drawings amalgamating the bird's eye view and plan. He is also credited with a drawing of Chester, dating from 1585 and possibly a preparatory drawing for the map. It shows Chester as a walled city. The prominent coat of arms reveals Smith's heraldic interests.

In the year 1602-03 William Smith anonymously published maps of Chester, Essex, Hertfordshire Lancashire, Leicester, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire and Worcester. These were probably engraved in Amsterdam and were intended to form sheets of a new atlas. After the publication of Saxton’s county maps in the 1570s, cartographers attempted to improve on Saxton’s atlas and replicate its success. Unfortunately for Smith, another cartographer, John Speed, was also preparing county maps at that time and competition proved too great, Speed being the victor.

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