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Philip Symonson's Map, A New Description of Kent: 'the Finest Specimen of English Cartography before 1600'

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Linda Taylor

Linda Taylor.2017.Philip Symonson's Map, A New Description of Kent: 'the Finest Specimen of English Cartography before 1600'.Archaeologia Cantiana.138:149.


PHILIP SYMONSON’S MAP, A NEW DESCRIPTION OF KENT:the finest specimen of English cartography before 1600’

linda taylor

A New Description of Kent ‘engraven by Charles Whitwell’ and produced ‘by the travayle of Phil: Symonson of Rochester, gent’ was first printed in 1596.1 Measuring 79 x 54cm (31 x 21in.), and being drawn at a considerably larger scale than earlier maps of the County, it provided the opportunity for the inclusion of more information and greater attention to detail generally. Despite Symonson’s map being lauded, as in the title above,2

R.V. Tooley, Maps and Map-makers, p. 67.

it has often been considered of minor importance, ‘not on account of the workmanship but from the smallness of the printed output’,3 and consequent distribution. Indeed, many scholarly studies on the growth of cartography and chorography during the latter part of the sixteenth century fail to include any reference to Symonson. The innovative nature of the map certainly warrants closer examination. Fig. 1 shows an extract of the map illustrating its various characteristic features.


Fig. 1 Extract from Symonson’s map showing the Lower Medway valley; the figures (e.g. 44, 48) are the key serial numbers of the hundreds listed on bottom left hand corner of map.

J.B. Harley, author of The new nature of maps (2002), argues that true under-standing of documents, including maps, can only be achieved by returning them to the past and situating them ‘squarely in their proper period and place’.4

J.B. Harley, The New Nature of Maps, p. 37.

Following this advice this paper will study A New Description of Kent in the context of:


(1) the cartographer,

(2) the context of other maps, and

(3) the context of the society in which it was prepared,5

Ibid., p. 38.


this in order to better appreciate Symonson’s qualifications and motives for producing the map and its proper place in the history of topographical cartography.

Although few details are known of the early life of Philip Symonson, records remain in the Rochester Bridge Wardens Accounts Book relating to his role as paymaster for the bridge – an appointment he took up on 24 February 1593 following the death of the previous holder of this position.6

Wardens Accounts F1/103 f442v.

The bridge required a large maintenance workforce averaging around 40 skilled craftsmen and it was the paymaster’s responsibility to oversee their monthly wages.


Paid to Phillip Symondson [sic], gent, receyvor and paymaster for the regarding of Rochester bridge in the county of Kent as to masons, carpenters, sawyers, banke layers and other laborers and also for the work, timber, stone and other necessaries belonging to the sayde bridge.7

Wardens Accounts F1/104 f46r.


Attracting an annual fee of just £10, this was obviously not Symonson’s only form of income. However, his appointment was particularly fortuitous for the Wardens as, unlike previous or future paymasters, Symonson had much needed surveying and cartography skills. Following earlier boundary disputes, the Wardens needed to establish firm ownership of the Trust’s estates and over the period of Symonson’s appointment, 1593-1598, he was also hired to produce a series of estate maps, three of which still exist.8 In 1593 he was paid £6 13s. 3d. for:

his paynes in plotting ye parcels of Nashenden and Little Delce in Kent and the manor of Est Tilborye in Essex, and for a survey and certificate to be made of ye stadles [wood used for the base of the bridge’s stone support pillars] in the coppis woodes hedgerows of Nashenden afforsayed to be exhibited at the next general assembly of the wardens and assistants.9

Wardens Accounts F1/104 f92r.


Although estate maps were drawn on a much larger scale than his New Description of Kent, each presented certain characteristics that were echoed in his county map. The estate map for Nashenden and Little Delce depicts the main road using parallel dotted lines as in the Kent map and Symonson’s practice of accurately portraying buildings can be seen from the image of St Margaret’s church tower in Rochester. It is easily recognisable as the medieval tower which, to this day, remains an impressive landmark when viewed from the River Medway.10

RBWTA E24/01/001.

The style in which the trees are portrayed in the estate map of the bridge lands held near Faversham is identical to that employed on the county map.11


It is the map of the estate lands at Dartford which is of particular interest (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Symonson’s estate plan of Dartford. East is at the top with Dartford town far right and R. Thames at top left. Parcels of land owned by RBW are in green. ‘Queenes House’ is shown very faintly at top right.

(Reproduced by kind permission of the Rochester Bridge Wardens Trust.)

Although the amount of land held in Dartford in 1596 was only just over 37 acres, Symonson thought it appropriate to enlarge the area covered by his survey to embrace a considerable amount of land beyond including the nearby Queenes house.12 Following the dissolution of Dartford Priory in 1539, Henry VIII had adapted and partially re-built the site as a manor house conveniently placed on the main route from London to Dover. Although little now remains of the building, the account of one of the Surveyors of the King’s Works at Dartford, James Needham, details in words the design including that of the western gate house and two courtyards, features which are actually illustrated by Symonson, with his usual care.13 Such deference towards the property of royalty and the aristocracy was commonplace and is a feature both on Symonson’s county map and also on Lambarde’s Beacon Map of Kent (Fig. 3),14 the work of which is often attributed to Symonson (see below).


Fig. 3 Lambarde’s Beacons map of Kent, often attributed to Symonson.

(Reproduced by kind permission of the British Library.)

Unfortunately, there is no record of the date and place of Symonson’s birth. How-ever, there are records of several members of the wider Symonson family in the Maidstone area and it is probable that Thomas Symonson, headmaster of Maidstone Grammar School in 1590, was his brother.15, accessed 31.7.16.


Also, it is not known how long Symonson had been resident in Rochester before his paymaster appointment in 1593. During 1585-1587 he held an official role relating to the Rochester Cathedral choir16

MALSC DRc_Elb_001.

and in 1597, he is described as a ‘principal citizen’ on the lease of a parcel of land at the Castle ditch.17 In 1598 he was elected mayor of Rochester. However, Symonson died on 30 September 1598 and the Wardens Account Book records a payment of £4 4s. 4d. to his widow, being the outstanding portion of his annual fee.18 Despite the lack of biographical details, it is clear from Symonson’s work at Rye (Sussex), which is briefly described below, that much more can be uncovered of his varied talents and the professional esteem in which he was held.


Extreme winds and tides had seriously damaged Rye harbour during the winter of 1571. Despite the ever-increasing dereliction of the harbour and local concerns, it was not until 1591 that the Privy Council appointed Sir Henry Palmer and William Borough to investigate possibilities for harbour improvement,19

Sir Henry Palmer (1550-1611), a naval commander and later Comptroller of the Navy, had previously been commissioned to oversee the repair and maintenance of Dover harbour during the previous decade when it is thought that Symonson was commissioned to provide a chart of that harbour. William Borough (1536-1599), also a naval officer, already had recognised expertise in charting and surveying and is credited with being one of the first in 1581 to observe magnetic variation.

part of which investigation required a detailed survey resulting in a coloured map.20


It is testament to Symonson’s reputation in Kent, and seemingly beyond, that on 24 February 1594, Borough and Palmer commissioned the Rochester surveyor to make ‘the plat’ of the harbour, for which work he was to receive £5 with an additional piece of gold worth five shillings for his assistant, Lucy Phillips, once the ‘plat’ was ‘Fynished & putt in cullers’.21

ESRO RYE 1/5 f 331r in S. Bendall, pp. 44-45.

However, despite this prestigious commission from the Privy Council, Symonson clearly gave priority to his civic Rochester duties, as reported by Palmer and Borough to the mayor and jurats of Rye:


Wee sent presently for Mr Symonson for making the plat of your haven who is very willing to doo therein what h Can but ... the Fifte of Marche next the Syses are kept hear at Rochester, at what tyme he has speciall business there, that he maye not be absent from thence now seing the tyme is so shorte that he dowteth and so doo wee that he should not have tyme to doo the thing as wee wish it should bee and returne back to the sises.22

ESRO 47/51/76 in S. Bendall, p. 45.


Symonson was required to produce two maps; one for the Corporation of Rye and another to be presented to the Privy Council, the latter to be completed and handed to Borough and Palmer before the end of Easter Term. However, when pressed by the Corporation for their copy, Symonson stood his ground. He was aware that his efforts for ensuring a timely production of the first map had not been appreciated by Borough and Palmer as his work had not yet been put before the Privy Council and considered that such ‘slackenes ... made me the lesse forward in taking this other plot in hande for the Towne’. Showing an independent and somewhat assertive nature Symonson clearly set his own deadline promising delivery ‘about Barthelmewtyde’.23

ESRO 47/51/65 in S. Bendall p. 45.

The map was delivered on St Bartholomew’s Day, 24 August 1594, and a further sum of £4 16s. 0d. was approved for Symonson’s dietary expenses with an additional ten shillings for each of his two assistants.


Thus, Symonson’s reputation was firmly established as a surveyor and cartographer of large scale maps of fairly small defined areas – maps which served a specific purpose. With this in mind, his New Description of Kent appears initially to be a complete departure from his regular survey work and to examine his motivation and reasons for this change in direction it is necessary to contextualise Symonson’s New Description both in relation to contemporary maps and to the requirements of society at the time.

The growth of map-making in the second half of the sixteenth century was stimulated by the work of John Leland who, in 1533, was commissioned by Henry VIII to travel the realm gathering information on the treasures hidden away in the libraries of monasteries as well as visiting all geographic features in order to des-cribe fully the glory of Henry’s kingdom. The end product was to be a written choro-graphy of England. After ten years on this task, he wrote The Laboryouse Journey and Search of John Leylande for Englande’s Antiquities in 1549. Unfortunately, whether due to the intensity of his research or other causes, his mental health deteriorated precluding further development of his ideas and he died in 1552. However, before he died he proposed writing a history of England and Wales with the work divided into books on each of the shires and domains, each book to be accompanied by a topographical map of the region covered. Although Leland’s work remained unpublished in his lifetime his vision continued and his manuscript notes were read by, amongst others, William Lambarde and William Camden.24

S. Mendyk, ‘Early British Chorography’, The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 465-467.

Accordingly, interest in chorography encompassing both word and image continued apace.


Christopher Saxton’s unprecedented collection of maps was published in atlas form in 1579. Thomas Seckford, Master of the Queen’s Requests and Surveyor of the Court of Wards and Liveries, as well as being a wealthy landowner, at his own expense employed Saxton to undertake the mammoth task of surveying and mapping every county in England and Wales.25

Until the mid seventeenth century, these Saxton maps were associated ‘with the master, not the man’. Indeed, although the 1579 atlas depicts both the royal arms and Seckford arms as well as acknowledging the work as Saxton’s, from study of the original sheets completed between 1574 to 1578 ‘only Seckford’s arms appear on all thirty-four sheets’. The royal insignia ‘crowded in a narrow margin as an apparent afterthought’ is evident on all but the first sheet. However, Saxton’s name did not appear until the twenty-fifth sheet – three years into the project. Seckford clearly had the political and financial influence to promote and oversee this venture. Political ambition may well have been Seckford’s driving force as each draft proof was sent to Lord Burghley for inspection before the final print run. By currying favour with Burghley and satisfying the latter’s need for maps, Seckford ensured completion of the project.

Skelton describes a map as ‘a graphic document in which location, extent and direction can be more precisely defined than by the written word ... ‘its construction is a mathematical process strictly controlled by measurement and calculation’.26 However, to what extent Saxton employed advanced mathematical process is debatable. Although the sixteenth century witnessed the introduction of the technique of triangulation in the production of scale maps, the transition to this method was slow. Harvey states that ‘in view of this it is not surprising to learn that Christopher Saxton’s maps ... were probably simply itinerary maps, made without triangulation’.27 This opinion is somewhat modified by Lynam who, whilst acknowledging that very little is known about Saxton’s method, also ruled out the use of triangulation as ‘[this technique] and the representation of hills in plan were unknown arts at this time’. Nevertheless, Lynam does acknowledge that Saxton probably plotted angles with the use of a geometric instrument called a ‘planimetrium’ and sketched his maps piecemeal in situ on a plane table.28 Saxton may have used a theodolite, simple versions of which, measuring horizontal angles only (and plane tables) were in use from the mid-sixteenth century.29 In 1571 Thomas Digges, the mathematician and astronomer (of Barham), collated and augmented the work of his late father, Leonard, also a mathematician. Mention is made of the plane table in rather derogatory terms as ‘an instrument onely for the ignorant and unlearned that have no knowledge of Noumbers’.30


Without any concrete evidence, the exact method used by Saxton can only be surmised. The speed at which the surveying work was conducted suggests relatively crude methods. Saxton completed his surveys of all of the counties in five seasons with surveying taking place only during the summer months. This works out at around one month per county. Although he probably employed assistants to advise on local place names, distances, etc., and most likely referred to the earlier work of John Leland, he simply would not have been able to complete the project within the timescale had he used triangulation. Martin and Jean Norgate, in their study of Saxton’s map of Hampshire, maintain that speculation leads to the conclusion that Saxton worked from ‘crude traverses supported by local knowledge’.31, accessed 17.4.12.


Before comparing Symonson’s map of Kent with Saxton’s work, it is useful to consider the way in which the latter’s work was received and its influence on future maps. Initial reviews were not all positive. Bunching several counties on one sheet was criticized and there was a perceived need to resolve some of the inadequacies in Saxton’s work. These opinions acted as a prompt to later map-makers such as John Norden whose Speculum Britanniae, started in 1590, aimed to provide a county-based history combining text and maps. Norden’s maps were based upon Saxton’s but also included additional features such as a key to map signs, some roads and insets of county town plans.32

Although Speculum was never completed in its entirety, Norden’s maps were re-issued to accompany William Camden’s Britannia in the early seventeenth century, C. Delano-Smith and J.P. Kain, pp. 72-73.


In Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain, published in 1611, John Speed relied heavily on the work of his predecessors using not only Saxton’s maps but also the later adaptations of Norden. However, in the case of Kent, Speed turned to Symonson’s although he failed to acknowledge this.33

R.V. Tooley, Maps and Map-Makers, p. 68.

Lacking the patronage enjoyed by Saxton, and in order to recoup his expenses and earn a living, the commercial value of Speed’s finished products was of vital importance to him. By relying on earlier surveys, he avoided the need to undertake extensive field work. Speed was able to focus on the accuracy of place names, adding new details such as roads and ensuring that the finished product was decorative and pleasing on the eye. Furthermore, it allowed him the opportunity to decorate his maps more fully by surveying and inserting plans of county towns (like Norden) and adding the coats-of-arms of the leading county families thus making his finished product more marketable.34 Despite, these added details it has been stated that ‘in all his maps Speed falls short of Symonson’.35


Thus, for the last two decades of the sixteenth century and the early years of the seventeenth most county maps were adaptations and revisions of Saxton. Symonson’s New Description of Kent is an exception to this rule. The most obvious distinction between Symonson’s and Saxton’s work is the map scale. Saxton’s, measuring 53 x 41cm (21 x 16in.), depicts not only Kent but also Surrey, Sussex and Middlesex, with parts of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex. (Its scale is 1:c.247,000.) By contrast, Symonson’s much larger map measures 79 x 54cm (with only very marginal sections of the adjacent counties of Sussex, Surrey and Essex). The scale is 2 miles to 2.54cm (1in.), or 1:118,000, so providing the space for an abundance of topographical detail. Main roads are precisely drawn and a reasonably full network shown. Churches do not simply appear as symbols indicating the site of the parish; they are accurate representations with, for example, either tower or steeple. As with Saxton, enclosed parkland is indicated but Symonson was able to show more of the ‘houses of the Nobylitie and Gentrye as the Plott coulde conveniently receave,’ and the landscape ‘whether playne, Hyllye or wooddye is more diligently observed’. It is, however, the depiction of the ‘trending of the seashore’ together with the ‘tractes of Ryvers, Rylles, and Creeks’ that sets this map apart and earns it the accolade that these ‘be more naturally described then heretofore it hath ben done’. Hazards such as sandbanks like the ‘Nowre’ head, off the Isle of Grain are depicted and, from the closely observed and named ‘bayes’ and ‘stayers’ on the Thanet coastline to the inclusion of Wyllop, Marsheland and Clobsden Guts on the coast of Romney Marsh (Fig. 4) it can be seen that the map was designed to inform navigation over both land and sea. Decoration is limited to Elizabeth’s royal coat of arms at the top and the map’s description inserted in the right hand bottom corner in a 13 x 9cm box surrounded with two crenelated borders, together with dividers and scale. The basic informative purpose of the map is further emphasised by the considerable space in the bottom right corner given over to tabulated lists of the county’s lathes, bailiewicks, hundreds and towns.36

BL M.T.6.f.1 (4).


Fig. 4 Extract from Symonson’s map showing the Romney Marsh area.

A New Description of Kent was probably not the first county-wide map that Symonson had completed as it is widely thought that he drafted the map of the beacon network included in the 1596 second edition of Lambarde’s Perambulation of Kent.37

Delano-Smith and Kain, pp. 65-66.

Lambarde’s manuscript of this map clearly gives his own initials ‘W.L’ in the bottom left corner but there are many similarities with Symonson (Fig. 3). Although the proportions are not so accurate, virtually the same area is covered with slightly less of Sussex included. As the purpose of the map is to site the beacons and their trajectories, only a few towns and villages are included which are not beacon sites. The only hills depicted are ones nearby St Margaret’s Bay, in Crowborwe [Crowborough] and Beggars Hill in Rye (both Sussex). The rivers are not named but the location of the bridges on the rivers mirrors the locations on Symonson’s map. The script does not match the fineness of Symonson’s italic hand but the inclusion of Squerryes in Westerham is reminiscent of his Dartford estate map. As in the case of Queene’s House in Dartford, Squerryes plays no part in the purpose of the map and is not related to the beacon network in any way. It was, however, Henry VIII’s hunting lodge and remained in royal hands for most of the reign of Elizabeth I.38 Although more sketch-like in appearance than Symonson’s finished work, the house is a representation complete with flag aloft on the tower rather than a symbol.


Having ascertained Symonson’s eminent position amongst late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century map-makers, the question is what made him launch out from estate plans into county mapping? So large an undertaking would be costly. Although a Kent man, he would have required an army of assistants to provide the in-depth local knowledge involved. Unlike Saxton, there is no known patron and, unlike Speed’s, the design of his map suggests he did not have the commercial market in mind. Therefore, the questions remain – who paid for this map and why? To find possible clues it is necessary to examine developments within contemporary society, not only relating to Symonson’s own life in Kent but also in the nation at large. It is in both these areas that William Lambarde’s influence can be found.

William Lambarde was appointed commissioner of sewers for Kent in 1568. He had previously bought land in the county and in 1570 married Jane Multon from Ightham. Although a Londoner by birth, he moved to Kent on his marriage and his association with the county continued throughout the rest of his life. A lawyer by profession, Lambarde is mainly remembered as an antiquary and for his historical topography of Kent first published in 1576. As a member of the county commission of the peace from 1579, Lambarde’s local activities included the organization of musters, beacons and markets and hence the production of the beacon map mentioned earlier. Furthermore, he was a warden of Rochester Bridge and it is in this latter connection that Symonson’s and his paths crossed.39

J.D. Alsop, ODNB, accessed 29.3.12.

In the second edition of Permabulation of Kent published in 1596, Lambarde recommends the work of his ‘good friend Master Philip Symonson’.40


As the author of the earliest county history, Lambarde had influence in Kent and it is not inconceivable that he might have met with Thomas Digges, also a Kent man (see above), to discuss survey theories and, taking this one stage further, introduced his friend, Symonson, as well. The accuracy and presentation of Symonson’s map indicates he recognised that ‘advances in trigonometry and surveying turned map-making into a skill requiring training in mathematics rather than artistry’,41

R. Rotberg and T.K. Rabb, Art History: Images and Their Meaning, p. 122.

and any meeting would have been an opportunity to share interests.


In 1590 Saxton visited Kent to survey estate lands in Faversham and produced a map of ‘Homston [Homestall] Farm in Feversham’,42

I.M. Evans, ‘A Newly Discovered Manuscript Estate ‘, pp. 480-481.

and later in September that year he surveyed the manors of Bayford and Goodmanston in Sittingbourne.43 As with Digges, whilst there is no record of any meeting between the three men it is not beyond the realms of possibility and would have provided an ideal opportunity for Symonson to discuss his plans for a county map.


However, it is Lambarde’s links with William Cecil, Lord Burghley, that probably had most influence on Symonson’s completion of the map. Before Lambarde’s Perambulation was published, the draft manuscript was examined by Burghley as were the draft maps of Saxton as detailed above. Lambarde obviously earned Burghley’s approbation, both in relation to his topographical work and his public work, as in 1589 he was made Lord Burghley’s deputy as master of the alienations office of chancery rising in 1597 to master in ordinary and deputy keeper of the rolls.44

J.D. Alsop, ODNB.


Burghley had a keen interest in maps and throughout his time as Secretary of State, and later Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, he consulted maps to clarify any problem ‘with even the most remote geographical connection’.45

P. Barber and C. Board, Tales from the Map Room, p. 88. See endnote 25 for some details of Seckford’s cartographic links to Lord Burghley.

If there was not a map available, he commissioned one. From 1585-1604 England and Spain were intermittently at war with the real threat of a Spanish invasion in 1588 (the Armada). Burghley used the maps to plot where coastal defences were at their weakest and where the beacons were best situated to communicate vital news to court. More, importantly, however, the maps were used for taxation and other administrative purposes:


What were the most densely populated and flat (and therefore the richest and most fertile) parts of the country, from which the highest tax returns could be expected? Which members of the gentry should be appointed Justices of the Peace, to ensure an even distribution and loyalty to the Queen? ... Were there parks with woodland and animals to feed the levies?46

Ibid., pp. 88-89.


Whether Burghley’s requirements were the inspiration, financial or otherwise, for Symonson’s map or whether he even saw the map is not known but it is likely, due to Lambarde’s endorsement, that he was aware of Symonson’s skill. No doubt, due to the amount of detail, the map would have more than satisfied Burghley’s needs.

Delano-Smith and Kain refer to ‘the lottery of map survival’ due to their fragility and also vulnerability when stored through fire and flood.47

Delano-Smith and Kain, pp. 241-247.

Undoubtedly, Symonson produced other maps and plans during his lifetime which are lost; certainly he would have needed to supplement his annual fee for his Rochester Bridge appointment. What does survive is the legacy of Symonson’s skill. He is truly a ‘homo novus chorographicus’. This term coined, by Helgerson, relating to Camden, Norden and Speed can be equally applied to Symonson. The over-riding theme of these men is love of their country,48 and, in the case of Symonson, love of his county.


While it is not possible to say with certainty that Symonson used triangulation techniques in producing his New Description, the accuracy of his work and his evident mathematical skills strongly suggest that he did. Having the experience of drawing the Beacons Map may well have assisted the task.

Although the original print run during Symonson’s life was limited, the map long remained current and between 1596 and 1775 no fewer than eight editions were published.49, accessed 21.3.12.

More than 60 years after its original appearance, it was chosen to illustrate John Philpott’s Villare Cantium. However, the map had by now been updated and included inserted illustrations of both Rye (top left) and Dover (top right).50 However, Rye – not even in Kent – and Dover were both harbours that Symonson had successfully surveyed so may well have been included as a tribute to the master. In 1914, the Ordnance Survey produced a facsimile of the issue published by P. Stent dated ‘about 1650’ and from this, the earliest known existing copy of the whole map, it is learnt that Charles Whitwell was the engraver.51


The map trade mirrored the book trade and both grew exponentially during the seventeenth century. Map ownership as a symbol of country and county pride continued.52

R. Helgerson, p. 147.

For example, the probate inventory, dated 1666, of Elizabeth Pollen, the widow of a husbandman from Faversham, listed a total of nine maps and frames.53 These are unlikely possessions for someone of her social standing and probably indicate she was involved in the selling of maps. It is a pleasing thought that at least one of the maps might possibly have been the major work of Phil: Symonson of Rochester, gent.



The British Library: Add. 62935; M.T.6.f.1 (4); ‘Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Most Honourable, the Marquis of Salisbury’, vol. 8, 1598, Entry No. 263.

Kent History and Library Centre: PRC/27/57.

Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre: DRc_Elp_001; RCA_T1_006_08.

Rochester Bridge Wardens Trust Archive: F1/103; F1/104; E24/01/001; E13/01/004; E09/01/006.

Alsop, J.D., 2004, ‘Lambarde, William (1536-1601)’, ODNB,

Barber, P. and C. Board, 1993, Tales from the Map Room (London: BBC).

Bendall, S., 1955, ‘When the Same Platte was Made and by Whom and to What Intent: Sixteenth Century Maps of Romney Marsh’, Imago Mundi, vol. 47, 34-38.

Copley, G.J. (ed.), 1977, Camden’s Britannia Kent (London: Hutchinson).

Delano-Smith, C. and J.P. Kain, 1999, English Maps: a History (London: The British Library).

Digges, L., 1571, A Geometrical Practical Treatise names Pantometria (London).

Evans, I.M., 1972, ‘A Newly Discovered Manuscript Estate Plan by Christopher Saxton, relating to Faversham in Kent’, Geographical Journal, vol. 138, no. 4, 480-481.

Fordham, G., 1928, ‘Some Surveys and Maps of the Elizabethan Period Remaining in Manuscript’, Geographical Journal, vol. 71, no. 1, 50-60.

Gardiner, R.A., 1969, ‘Philip Symonson’s New Description of Kent, 1596, Geographical Journal, vol. 135, no. 1, 136-137.

Hannan, H., 1914, ‘An Account of a Map of Kent dated 1596’, Archaeologia Cantiana, 30, 85-92.

Harley, J.B., 2002, The New Nature of Maps (Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins UP).

Harvey, P.D.A., 1980, The History of Topographical Maps (London: Thames and Hudson).

Heawood, E., 1935, ‘Some Early County Maps’, Geographical Journal, vol. 68, no. 54, 325-337.

Helgerson, R., 1986, ‘The Land Speaks: Cartography, Chorography and Subversion in Renaissance England, Representations, no. 16, 50-85.

Hull, F., 1973, Kentish Maps and Map-Makers 1590-1840 (Maidstone, KCC).

Lynam, E., 1950, ‘English Map Makers of the 16th century’, Geographical Journal, vol. 116, 7-25.

Mendyk, S., 1986, ‘Early British Chorography’, The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 17, no. 4, 459-481.

Ordnance Survey, 1914, A Note on Facsimile Reproduction of Symonson’s Map of Kent, 1596 (Southampton).

Philpott, J., 1659, Villare Cantium (London).

Rotberg, R.I. and T.K. Rabb (eds), 1986, Art and History: Images and their Meaning (CUP).

Skelton, R.A., 1965, Decorative Printed Maps of the 15th to 18th Centuries (London: Spring Books).

Skelton, R.A., 1957, ‘Two English Maps of the Sixteenth Century’, British Museum Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1, 1-2.

Tooley, R.V., 1949, Maps and Map-Makers (London: Batsford).

Yates, N. and J.M. Gibson, 1994, Traffic and Politics: the construction and management of Rochester Bridge, AD43-1993 (Woodbridge: Boydell).


N. Yates and J. Gibson, Traffic and Politics, p. 145.

  • 1. BL M.T.6.f.1 (4).
  • 2.
  • 3.

    Ibid., p. 67.

  • 4.
  • 5.
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11.

    RBWTA E13/01/004.

  • 12.

    RBWTA E09/01/006.

  • 13., accessed 4.4.12.

  • 14.

    BL Add.62935.

  • 15.
  • 16.
  • 17.

    MALSC RCA_TI_006_08.

  • 18.

    RBWTA F1/104 f241r.

  • 19.
  • 20.

    S. Bendall, ‘When the Same Platte was Made…’, p. 44.

  • 21.
  • 22.
  • 23.
  • 24.
  • 25.
  • 26.

    R.A. Skelton, Decorative Printed Maps of the 15th to 18th Centuries, p. 1.

  • 27.

    P.D.A. Harvey, The History of Topographical Maps, pp. 162-163.

  • 28.

    E. Lynam., ‘English Map Makers’ pp. 7-25.

  • 29.

    F. Hull, Kentish Maps and Map-Makers 1590-1840, p. iii.

  • 30.

    Thomas Digges, A Geometrical Practical Treatise Pantometria.

  • 31.
  • 32.
  • 33.
  • 34.

    Ibid., p. 75.

  • 35.

    E. Heawood, ‘Some Early County Maps’, p. 335.

  • 36.
  • 37.
  • 38.

    BL Add. 62935.

  • 39.
  • 40.

    H. Hannen, ‘An Account of a Map of Kent dated 1596’, 87.

  • 41.
  • 42.
  • 43.

    P.D.A. Harvey, ‘A Manuscript Estate Map by Christopher Saxton’, p. 65.

  • 44.
  • 45.
  • 46.
  • 47.
  • 48.

    R. Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood, p. 147.

  • 49.
  • 50.

    J. Philpott, Villare Cantium.

  • 51.

    A Note on the Facsimile by the Ordnance Survey of Symonson’s Map of Kent, 1596. Whitwell, a renowned late sixteenth-century copper engraver had also worked on significant maps of Surrey, France and Asia.

  • 52.
  • 53.

    KHLC PRC/27/57.

Philip Symonson's Map a new description of Kent of Rochester, gent’ was first printed in 1596. The articles examines this map and further works seeking to establish Symonson’s reputation as a surveyor and cartographer of large scale maps of fairly small defined areas – maps which served a specific purpose. The New Description of Kent appears initially to be a complete departure from his regular survey work and the article examines his motivation and reasons for this change in direction contextualising Symonson’s New Description both in relation to contemporary maps and to the requirements of society at the time.
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