Historical Map of York about 1850
The Historic Towns Trust has produced an award-winning map of York
York is one of the most important and best-known cities in northern England. Founded around AD 71, York began as a legionary city with a substantial fortress and became an important city in the Roman empire — the emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus, Constantius and Constantine the Great all visited York. In decline after the Roman period, York became important again under King Edwin of Northumbria who founded the famous Minster church and, after the Viking invasion of the 9th century and a change of name to Jorvik , the city continued as a prosperous river port and administrative centre. Throughout the middle ages it continued to prosper as a centre of trade and housed a large number of churches, religious houses and hospitals. The Minster was relocated and became the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe. After the Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries, York gradually developed as a centre for trade and services, based as it was on the Great North Road.
After an active involvement in the Civil War, York became the home for wealthy merchants and traders, and many of its most attractive houses and buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries. By the time the railways arrived at the end of the 1830s, the city was an elegant, prosperous place.
The map shows York at the dawn of the railway era, when York’s early railway station had arrived just inside its medieval walls. It charts the locations of the many major medieval and post-medieval buildings within the walled city and spilling outside of its gates, or bars. The pattern of settlement and streets, most on the lines that we see today, is evident and it is clear from the map how densely settled the medieval and later city was. All of York’s best-known buildings are shown — the Minster, St Mary’s Abbey, York Castle (shown as the debtors’ prison!), the city walls and bars, the city’s only river bridge over the Ouse with chapel and prison on it — as well as the many churches which served the city.
Based on extensive historical and archaeological evidence, the map draws together the many strands of York’s past onto a colourful and attractive map which provides a brilliant visual reference to the history of this fascinating town.
The map also carries a brief history of the city (written by Dr Peter Addyman, formerly of the York Archaeological Trust) and a comprehensive gazetteer explaining the development and stories of the most important buildings, streets and sites shown on the map, as well as listing all the city's churches. A panel gives the explanation of some of York's odd street names. Where does Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate come from, for example?
Illustrated with engravings and views of York buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, this is a fascinating and attractive publication for all interested in the history of one of England's most famous and visited cities.
The map won the Stanford's Award for Printed Mapping of the British Cartographic Society 2014.
It also took the British Cartographic Society Award 2014 which is the BCS's 'Best in Show' prize.
Unfortunately, publication of the map has been discontinued by Old House Books and it is now regrettably out of print, although copies may still be available in bookshops in York. The Historic Towns Trust is considering republishing it under its own imprint, Town & City Historical Maps.
Published by Old House Books