By the middle of the sixteenth century there were a number of map makers at work in Tudor England, mostly employed by landowners eager to survey their individual estates.

However, in 1573 Thomas Seckford, a wealthy Suffolk man and a member of Queen Elizabeth I’s government, financed a mapping project which was infinitely broader in vision. He commissioned from Christopher Saxton a set of maps of the whole of England and Wales, thus creating our first national atlas.


This project was to have such a lasting significance that Saxton came to be called ‘the father of English cartography’. His magnificent atlas forms the first exhibit in this study of English map making from 1573 to 2003.