Hollar’s post-fire survey of London
By HOLLAR, W[enceslaus], 1666
A Map or groundplot of the Citty of London and the Suburbes thereof that is to say all which is within the iurisdiction of the Lord Mayor or properlie calld ‘t Londo[n] by whijch is exactly demonstrated the present condition thereof since the last sad accident of fire. The blanke space signifeing the burnt part & where the houses are exprest those places yet standi[n]g.
- Author: HOLLAR, W[enceslaus]
- Publication place: London
- Publisher: Sold by Iohn Overton at the Whitehorse in little Brittaine, next doore to little S. bartholomew gate
- Publication date: 1666.
- Physical description: Engraved map, with inset map and key, trimmed to neatline.
- Dimensions: 265 by 342mm. (10.5 by 13.5 inches).
- Inventory reference: 18354
Hollar was an obvious choice as he had been preparing, since 1660, a large bird’s-eye view of the city, some “10 foot in breadth, and 5 foot upward”. Although his grand view was backed by the King, the project struggled for funding, and the Great Fire would make many of his endeavours redundant. Nonetheless, the two men worked quickly to survey the wreckage and by mid-November Hollar had engraved the first map showing the extent of the damage: ‘A Map of the Groundplott of the Citty of London with the Suburbes thereof…’.
Soon after, or more probably concurrently, he would engrave this map, for the map and printseller John Overton. The map is on the same scale as the former work, and bears an almost identical title. However, Hollar has slightly increased its extent to include Lincoln Inn’s in the west, and more buildings east of The Tower of London. The area devastated by the fire is shown devoid of house, only the street layout and the ground plans of the churches and principal public buildings are marked. The key, which as been moved to the lower right-hand corner, lists 101 churches, 82 of which had been consumed by the fire, together with a list of 24 public buildings and gates (A‑Z), and 14 whares, staires, and docks (a‑o). Hollar has also included, for the first time on any post fire map, an inset of the whole of London, ‘A General Map of the whole Citty of London with Westminster and all the suburbs…’, which puts into context just how devastating the fire was for central London.
This map together with John Leake’s survey of the city of 1667, which Hollar would also engrave, would form the basis for the reconstruction of the city. Hollar work was extensively used by the likes of John Evevlyn and Robert Hooke, for the reconstruction of the city, and copied by many European mapsellers. The plan is even mentioned in glowing terms by Samuel Pepys in his diary, 22 November 1666:
“My Lord Boruncker did show me Hollar’s new print of the City, with a pretty representation of that part which is burnt, very fine indeed; and tells me that he was yesterday sworn the King’s servant, and that the King hath commanded him to go on with his great map of the City, which he was upon before the City burned, like Gombout of Paris, which I am Glad of.“
And by John Evelyn:
“I have since lighted upon Mr. Hollar’s late Plan, which looking upon as the most accurate hitherto, has caus’d me something to alter what I had so crudely don [sic]”.
The present example is the second state, which was printed and sold by John Overton.
- NHG Hollar 1916 II
- Pennington 1004ii
- BM 1856,0607.6.