Oxford

Elizabethan map goes on display at Bodleian Libraries

Oxford map tapestry Image copyright Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Image caption Towns and villages can be seen on the map with their 16th Century spellings

A "magnificent" Elizabethan map has gone on display for the first time in more than a century.

The Sheldon Tapestry Map of Oxfordshire, which was woven in wool and silk, is on show at the Bodleian's Weston Library in Oxford.

It is only partially complete but has illustrations of 16th Century towns, rivers, forests, and castles.

Map librarian Nick Millea said it had "major significance for the history of map-making".

He said the 3.5m (11.5ft) by 5.5m (18ft) map formed a "unique representation of the landscape, at a period when modern cartography was still in its infancy".

Mr Millea added: "It's a magnificent spectacle and we are expecting it to be a major draw for visitors who can enjoy spotting familiar landmarks and place names that have personal relevance for them."

Image copyright Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Image caption The Sheldon Tapestry Map of Oxfordshire is only partially complete
Image copyright Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Image caption Take a closer look and the White Horse at Uffington makes an appearance

It was commissioned, alongside maps for Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire, by landowner Ralph Sheldon in the 1590s.

The aim was to show the counties where Sheldon's family and friends held land.

London is also shown, with just a single bridge crossing the Thames.

It is believed the tapestry was last on show, briefly, at the start of World War One, when it was moved to the Victoria and Albert Museum for safekeeping.

Image copyright Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Image caption The tapestry is on show for free at the Bodleian's Weston Library in Oxford

Virginia Llado-Buisan, head of conservation, said: "The Sheldon Tapestry of Oxfordshire, despite being more than 400 years old, looks stunning and has kept its colours almost intact.

"Most importantly, the tapestry is now stable, well preserved and accessible for the public to enjoy."

The Bodleian said the map would remain on display "for a number of years".

What's on the map?

  • Oxford
  • "Heddendon" (Headington)
  • Marston
  • "Cowle" (Cowley)
  • "Iseley" (Iffley)
  • Botley
  • Hinksey
  • "Wolvercot"
  • Magdalen Bridge
  • Folly Bridge
  • London
  • Islington
  • "Hakeney" (Hackney)
  • "Kengington" (Kensington)
  • "Chelsey" (Chelsea)
  • Lambeth
  • Newington
  • Southwark

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