If you have not yet taken the time to explore this web site, I highly recommend it. MAPCO : Map and Plan Collection Online is a treasure trove of historical maps of London and the British Isles. There are other maps available at the site, including some of various locales in Australia. Needless to say, my primary interest in the site is for the Regency-era maps of London and England which are presented in the MAPCO archives.
MAPCO is the brain-child of Mr. David Hale and all of the images on the site are under copyright to him. He has acquired a number of antique maps dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which he has scanned into digital format. He has then painstakingly repaired and enhanced his digital version to produce the best possible image. Each map image is then electronically dissected, if you will, into sections. Each of these sections can then be displayed at extreme enlargement, allowing the viewer to see the finest detail of these historic maps, even online. He adds new maps to this online collections fairly regularly. This site is one of the true benefits of the "information superhighway," in my opinion.
Mr. Hale’s express intent is to make these maps available, free of charge, to historians, genealogists and other scholars who are researching the locations illustrated in the maps he has digitized. These lovely old maps are also a boon to avid readers of Regency romances. Have you ever wondered how close Bond Street was to Piccadilly, or which was the most direct route from Grosvenor Square to Richmond? You can see for yourself at MAPCO, on images of maps which were actually published during the Regency era.
The maps I find most useful at MAPCO for my own Regency research are Darton’s 1814 Map of London, Pigot’s 1820 Map of London and Faden’s 1800 Map of London and its Environs. But there are many other maps ranging from the early eighteenth century through the end of the nineteenth century. There is even a map of Elizabethan London, dated c. 1560. All of these maps are more than just plans of a given location, they are truly works of art.
One of the MAPCO maps which I once found useful was Wallis’s Plan Of The Cities Of London And Westminster of 1801. Sadly, Mr. Hale was forced to take this charming map offline after his work was used without his permission by a for-profit company. Because Mr. Hale has invested so much time and effort in the digital version of each map, he does have the right to copyright his original work, and it is theft to take these images without his permission. I can only hope that further predation by thoughtless, greedy people will not force Mr. Hale to take all of these maps offline.
But for the moment, at least, most of the beautiful maps Mr. Hale has prepared are online at MAPCO for scholars and researchers to study. Or, to help Regency romance enthusiasts to determine the locations of the favorite haunts of the heroines and heroes of their favorite novels. Treat yourself to some time with these fascinating maps of Regency England at MAPCO. You will feel much more familiar with the Regency world when you settle in with your next romance novel.
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