Bodleian's Sheldon Map making history

9 October 2009

sheldon3The Sheldon Tapestry Map for Gloucestershire, acquired by the Bodleian Library in 2007, has recently been featured on Radio 4. Last Tuesday, 6 October, during the programme Making History, Vanessa Collingridge investigated the historical background of the tapestry map with the help of a number of specialists including Nick Millea, Bodleian Map Librarian. 

Scholars at the Bodleian Library are currently researching the map trying to verify its accuracy. Nick Millea made an appeal during the programme for contributions from general public: ‘We want people who live in Gloucestershire, or know it well, to do their own historical detective work. We want them to comment on how accurate a representation of the county in the 1590s it is.’

A follow-up interview with Nick Millea will be broadcast this coming Tuesday, 13 October.

Depicting parts of Wiltshire and Monmouthshire, the map is a part of the set of four famed ‘Tapestry Maps’ dating from the1590s. Commissioned by Ralph Sheldon for his home at Weston, Warwickshire, the series illustrates the midland counties of England: Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire. Woven in wools and silks, the Sheldon Tapestry Map for Gloucestershire is a fine example of cartography and decorative art from the 16th century. The map enriches the Bodleian Library’s outstanding map collection and is an important addition to the Library’s existing holdings of Tudor cartography.

The acquisition in 2007of the Sheldon Map was made possible through funds made available from the independent art charity The Art Fund which provided half of the total cost required at auction.

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