skip to content

Cambridge University Library has one of five known sets of proof maps prepared for John Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (Atlas.2.61.1), which was published in 1611/12.

The maps were printed from copper plates which had been engraved, in reverse, by Jodocus Hondius in his workshop in Amsterdam. Maps printed from the plates - proofs - would have been sent back to England for checking.

The maps in Cambridge University Library's set of proofs - known as the Gardner copy after Dr Eric Gardner (1877-1951) the former owner - are in a late state of preparation, but many were altered before being published. The map of Cheshire, which had been produced as early as 1603 by English engraver William Rogers, was completely replaced for publication and only two copies of the proof map of Cheshire are known to exist. 

None of these proof maps have text on the reverse. (The text on the reverse of published maps can sometimes be used to narrow the date of publication since the text was sometimes reset between editions).

All 66 maps are now viewable in the Cambridge Digital Library

Images are available for download for non-commercial purposes (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-NC 3.0))

The original maps measure approximately 40 x 53 cm (16 x 20.5 inches ; = A2 or 2 x A3).

For more information on John Speed's proof map see the blogs:

Also of interest may be:

Information on Dr Eric Gardner, the former owner of our proof maps, can be found at:


Image credit: extract of Ely from Speed's Huntingdonshire Atlas.2.61.1

Opening Times

Map Room Opening Times

Monday to Thursday 9am to 12:45pm and 2pm to 5:10pm
Friday 9am to 12:45pm and 2pm to 4:50pm 

i.e., we are closed lunch time, in the evenings and on Saturdays. However, given sufficient notice, we may be able to transfer Map Department items to the Rare Books Reading Room for consultation during these closed periods. 

Remember: Pencils only in the Map Room and No food or drink!

Where to Find Us

Library Floorplan

The Map Room - the Map Department's Reading Room - is on the first floor of the Library at the far end of the North Gallery. At the top of the stairs from the Library's Entrance Hall, turn right and the Map Room is at the end of the corridor. 

We are very close to the Tea Room.

Contact us

Map Department 
Cambridge University Library 
West Road 
CB3 9DR 


+44 (0) 1223 333041
+44 (0) 1223 333042
Our LibGuide may help with some enquiries