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Map Notes -- 
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the HMCMS Map Collection   Map Notes


These notes are taken from the map of Hampshire in the 'Ditchley' portrait of Elizabeth I, by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, about 1592. The portrait is in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
map type: HantsMap & Ditchley 1592
NB: these notes ignore the portrait and look at the map. Although the painting is in a public collection it is hedged round with access restrictions; no images from the map can be included with these notes. A sketch of Hampshire from the painting has been made.

The Ditchley Portrait

The portrait of Elizabeth I was painted in oil on canvas by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger about 1592, for Sir Henry Lee, 1533-1611, who was the Queen's Champion 1559-90. It was most likely painted to commemorate an elaborate entertainment which Sir Henry organised for the queen, September 1592, held either at his house at Ditchley, Oxfordshire, or at nearby Woodstock Palace.
The overall size of the portrait is: wxh = 1.5x2.4m.
Queen Elizabeth is shown standing on a globe, her feet rest on an outsize - compared with the curve of the globe which can be seen behind her - map of Great Britain. Beneath her feet it is possible to see the south of England from the edge of Cornwall to Kent, and St David's Head in south Wales. Her dress hangs to the north of Bristol - Oxford - Middlesex - part of Essex. The size of Hampshire in the painting is about 28x16.5cm. The county is misshapen, squashed N-S, foreshortened by the perspective view from the south.


The notes below are made from a critical stance judging the map as a map. Do keep in mind the map was painted only as a symbol, as an added element to a royal portrait.
sea area    
sea painted    

The sea is painted a dark blue-green, decorated with ships. For example, off Kent there is a three masted 'galleon'; spritsail, fore mast with main and top sails, main mast with main and top sails, mizzen mast with a lateen sail, and various flags.

coast line    

The coast line is indented by oversize estuaries of rivers. The three islands of Portsea, Hayling, and Thorney can be recognised. Christchurch Harbour is obvious, as are Southampton Water and Portsmouth and Langstone Harbours. the shape of the Solent and Spithead leaves a lot to be desired between the county and an ill shaped Isle of Wight.

Rivers are painted dark blue-green like the sea. They are crudely wide judged as cartography, though from a design stance they are fine.
In Hampshire it is possible to recognise the Stour and Moors River, Avon, Lymington River, Beaulieu River, Test with a muddle of tributaries perhaps including the Wallop and Anton, Itchen, Hamble, Meon, the start of the Wallington River, the Rother which does not reach into the county, Wey, Blackwater, perhaps the Hart, Loddon and Lyde, and the Enborne.


Painted hills, green humps, suggest some relief. There is a group in the middle of the county, north of Winchester, south of the River Loddon system, which are Hampshire Downs. And a group north of what is probably Petersfield, part of the South Downs.

Groups of trees are painted to indicate forests. Two groups decorate the New Forest area. A group on the east is probably Woolmer Forest, which was an important royal holding. There is another group of trees north of ?Alresford.

Each county on the map is painted a different colour, the colour a little deeper at the boundary, but there is no boundary line. Hampshire is a yellowish green, Wight is pale purple, Dorset pale purple, Wiltshire mid green, Berkshire a greeny yellow, Surrey pink, Sussex greeny yellow. From a cartographic point of view the choice of colours is poor, failing to clearly delimit counties, and having one colour, Kent's very dark green, badly out of balance with the rest.
The county areas are labelled, round Hampshire there are:-

Settlements are shown as stylised prospects of groups of buildings, bigger groups for bigger places. Few places are labelled, in Hampshire;-
It is possible to recognise most of the places shown in the county: Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, ?Beaulieu, Bishops Waltham, Christchurch, Fareham, Kingsclere, New Alresford, Odiham, Petersfield, Portsmouth, Ringwood, Romsey, ?Silchester, Southampton, ?Titchfield, Winchester, and three others.
Christopher Saxton's atlas of county maps is probably the best source to use for the identifications of places.

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HantsMap Notes -- DITCH1.txt
MN: 16.1.2004
last edit: 18.1.2004