Map shows a remarkable view of Norwich in the 16th century

William Cunningham’s 1558 map of Norwich is the first printed map of any English city.

William Cunningham’s 1558 map of Norwich is the first printed map of any English city. - Credit: Archant

William Cunningham's 1558 map of Norwich is the first printed map of any English city.

William Cunningham's Map of Norwich. Dating from 1559 this is the first ever printed city map in Eng

William Cunningham's Map of Norwich. Dating from 1559 this is the first ever printed city map in England. Credit: Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service. - Credit: Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service

Dr Karen Smyth, a senior lecturer in Medieval Literature who will be giving the talk about the map, said: 'The map is contained within a large book called The Glass of Cosmography. It's a mixture of poetry, geometry, geography and descriptive passages that go back to classical literature and explore how people understood the universe.' She added: 'Before the 1558 Norwich map you got maps of the country, but not cities. That's a mark of the idea that cities are starting to have their own identity and becoming really important.'

She said the map also gave a sense of the increasing importance of merchants, whereas previously maps had been very much for the nobility and those who had high status in society.

She said the map suggested that at the time, Norwich was a centre for innovation in geography and science. Also, the sign of Mercury included in the map highlighted the links Norwich had with the Low Countries where similar images were used.

She said the map gave people a sense of Norwich as a walled city, and that the crosses to the top left of the map represented windmills. Major landmarks such as Norwich Cathedral, Norwich Castle and Cow Tower can also be seen, but Dr Smyth said for reasons unknown one historic building, the Great Hospital, which dates back to the 13th century, was missed off the map.


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