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Friday, July 20, 2012

An Original Manuscript Map Made for the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral of the woods where Jane Austen Played


Jared Hill (1687-1745)
Untitled [Canterbury Woodlands Manuscript Map]
Watercolor and ink on vellum, heightened with gouache and gold 
Vellum size 31 x 40
8,000 GBP

The following comments come from Peter Barber, the Head of Cartographic and Topographic Materials at the Map Library division of the British Library.

"Jared Hill (1687-1745) [Sarah Bendall, A Dictionary of Land Surveyors and Local Map- Makers of Great Britain and Ireland 1530-1850 (London: British Library, 1997) no. H351] is a fairly well-known estate surveyor (and member of a dynasty of land surveyors)  who was active throughout most of South-East England and served as surveyor to Canterbury Cathedral between 1717 and 1736 and it is in this capacity that he drew this map.  Because the land was owned by the Cathedral there was less incentive to show the coat of arms which one would have expected in the case of privately owned land.  Because its focus is scattered patches of woodland in two parishes there are not the fields or the continuous landscape that one would normally find on an estate map and that would, I suspect, affect its attractiveness to a private buyer and its commercial value - but you're the experts there!  To balance that, the great house of  Godmersham parish, where some of the woods lay, was Godmersham Park, the home of Jane Austen's brother Edward, so it is quite possible that Jane knew and wandered through at least some of these woods.

Technically, the map is old-fashioned.  The style of the decoration belongs to an earlier generation (a common feature with estate maps) and the buildings are depicted in elevation in a style that is unchanged from a century earlier.

The draft for it was probably the one that was used for administrative purposes in the estate office.  In this case, however, it is likely that the map was handsomely finished not in the likelihood that it would be displayed (as would have been the case with a private or smaller institutional owner) but because it was commissioned by a prestigious individual: the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, and the surveyor would have wanted to demonstrate his skill"









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