A one-off Georgian map of Exeter has been found in an attic, offering a new insight into the city’s landscape and industry during the eighteenth-century.
The map, produced in 1743, was found in the attic of an elderly lady’s home shortly after her death and is thought to be the last map to depict Exeter before radical industrial and geographical changes took place. Historians have suggested it is a one-off and was never used, as another, more modern and detailed map is known to have been produced soon after.
The engraving depicts life in Exeter during its time as the dominant producer in the woollen cloth industry. Titled A Platform of the City of Exon, it was created by William Birchynshaw and details well-known buildings such as the Guildhall, Custom House, and Cathedral. The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, only recently built at the time of the map’s production, is shown to stand in Southernhay.
it is thought to be the last map to depict Exeter before radical industrial and geographical changes took place
University of Exeter’s Dr Todd Gray, who now owns the map after bidding for it at auction, said: “The discovery of this map is exciting for all those interested in the history of Exeter. William Birchynshaw’s map is an intriguing glimpse into the Georgian city and his depiction of many hundreds of buildings will, I am sure, prove fascinating for anyone who loves this city.”
The map was displayed at St Nicholas Priory on Saturday 15 June, the first ‘Exeter Day’, organised to celebrate local history and will be published by the Devon & Cornwall Record Society later this year.
By Ellie McGarahan, Contributor