The Sheldon Map
Nick Millea, Map Librarian at the Bodleian in Oxford, wants listener’s help as he and his team research a fabulous sixteenth century tapestry map.
The Sheldon map was the passion of Ralph Sheldon of Warwickshire in the 1590’s. It’s actually four maps covering Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. The Bodleian Library has the latter. It’s in need of restoration having spent part of its life as a fire-guard, but it’s a beautiful piece of work using wool and silk and showing all manner of features, including towns and villages, churches and castles and rivers and forests.
What does the Sheldon Map tell us?
Whilst researching the map we heard from local historian Geoff Haynes from the History of Tetbury Society. He pointed out that the work of Sheldon wasn’t the only ‘mapping’ going on in Gloucestershire in the 1590’s. The Berkeley family who owned Tetbury were busily preparing a survey, or inventory, with a view to selling off the town!
Making History consulted Professor Pauline Croft at Royal Holloway University of London and she pointed out that four failed harvests and revolt in Ireland meant that the 1590’s were a troubled economic time in Elizabethan England. Taxes rose and so did inflation. Landed families – like the Berkeley’s – were forced into difficult economic decisions.
So, why were the Sheldon’s splashing out on maps?
Well, it could have been a way of investing in something that was more ‘portable’ than land.
Furthermore, the Sheldon’s were Catholic and Ralph Sheldon had nine daughters. This might have had two implications: firstly, they could have taken some of their wealth with them if the religious climate in England got too hot for them or, secondly (and maybe more realistically), the maps could well have been a better way of paying for a continental, Catholic education for the daughters.
How can you help?
Nick wants people who live in Gloucestershire (or know it well) to do their own historical detective work and click on the link to the map and then comment on how accurate a representation of the county in the 1590’s it is.Making History Facebook page
If you want to send in modern images or documentary evidence then use the Making History Facebook page, otherwise please email or write to the programme.
Useful Links: The Sheldon Map
"Woven in wool and silk, the Sheldon Tapestry Map for Gloucestershire is a fine example of cartography and decorative art from the 16th century. Depicting southern Gloucestershire and parts of Wiltshire and Monmouthshire, the map is a part of the set of four famed 'Tapestry maps' dating from the 1590s."The Sheldon Tapestry Map of Gloucestershire (Bodleian Library)
Could a well-known ‘radio ham’ have picked up television signals from America in 1930, more than three decades before the Telstar satellite enabled regular transmissions across the Atlantic? That’s the assertion of Making History listener Geoff Gilham who discovered a letter to The Times from a Douglas Walters that claimed just that.
With help from Iain Baird at the National Media Museum in Bradford and Giles Read from the Radio Society of Great Britain, Making History’s Dylan Winter pieced together the early history of TV and showed that Walters, a journalist with the Daily Herald, was one of several amateurs who helped shape the future of television.
The 1920’s and 1930’s was a period in which many individuals and commercial organisations were playing around with television. There were problems providing sound and pictures at the same time and in viewing images too. However, early TV signals used both the Short Wave and Medium Wave radio bands and this meant that they could be picked up over considerable distances (particularly at night). The scientific reasons were little understood at the time, but it explains Walters success in picking up test transmissions from New York.
Black Eagle, star of the nineteenth century circus
Listener Paula Harber in Suffolk bought a beautiful gold-plated plaque of a horse at an auction. The name “Black Eagle” was inscribed on it. Who, or what, was Black Eagle she asks?
Making History consulted Professor Vanessa Toulmin at the National Fairground Archive based at the University of Sheffield and she told the programme that Black Eagle was the equine star of an American travelling circus which toured the theatres of Britain in the 1850’s. He could waltz, polka and even mimic a camel (whatever that meant!). An image exists of him in the Illustrated London News and he was introduced to Queen Victoria.
According to Professor Toulmin, his significance is as evidence of the popularity of circus with animals midway through the nineteenth century.
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Making History explores ordinary people's links with the past. The programme is presented by Helen...