This drawing is attributed to Robert Dawson (1771-1860), a first-class Royal Military Draughtsman and Surveyor. He was also an influential teacher at the Tower of London Drawing Room, where he had been employed since the age of eighteen. The map is oriented unconventionally, with north to the left rather than at the top. Consequently, Lizard Head, the southernmost point of Great Britain, lies to the right of the plan. The boundaries of the area surveyed are coastal from Porthleven to Falmouth Bay, but at Lower Trenoweth they leave the coastline and follow the roads inland. The word 'flag' is written in several places (the tip of the Lizard, for example) to mark points between which Dawson took angular measurements to pinpoint topographical features. Similarly Signal Staff points are noted around the coast at Black Head and below Mullion Island. Helston was a tin-mining town. Copper and tin mines in the area are indicated by symbols.
A coloured chart of Falmouth Haven and the river Fal up to Truro; drawn 1590-1600
This sixteenth century drawing shows the layout of Falmouth harbour in Cornwall. It must have been drawn after the completion of Pendennis and St Mawes Castles in the 1540’s as these are depicted, although in a fanciful manner bearing little resemblance to the real structures. These castles were part of a defensive chain built by Henry VIII after a peace treaty was signed by Francis I of France and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain in 1538, making invasion of England probable. England and France were ancient enemies and the catholic Charles V, nephew of Catherine of Aragon, was angered by Henry VIII’s decision to divorce her. Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries provided him with enormous wealth with which he was able to commission surveys of the vulnerable coastline and build defence fortifications.
This drawing was probably executed to provide a record of this vulnerable area of the coast for defensive purposes. It is possible that this drawing may date from 1598 – 1599 when the military engineer Paul Ivey was responsible for strengthening St Mawes and Pendennis following the 1597 scare that the Spanish might direct an armada towards Falmouth Haven.
Pictorial depiction’s of castles, ships and sea monsters feature on this map which verges on the fanciful in its details, the naval battle in the top left is simply an embellishment.
In the bottom left hand corner is a clover leaf pattern that is in fact an accurate ground plan of St Mawes Castle. A later annotator may have drawn this in an attempt to correct the picturesque inaccuracy of its depiction in this drawing.
The contouring technique used by Robert Dawson on this map precedes the introduction of obligatory contouring on Ordnance Survey maps in 1839-40. Short watercolour lines ('hachures'), drawn with a brush, follow the direction of slope and are paced to indicate the steepness of relief. Colour washes are steadily built up, giving realism to the depiction of hills, mountains and, in particular, the thickly wooded valleys descending from the moors and downs towards the sea. Tin and copper mining is evident around Redruth and Camborne. A triangulation diagram is inscribed on the reverse of the manuscript but is now obscured by backing material.
This is a map of Falmouth Haven. It forms part of an atlas that belonged to William Cecil Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I's Secretary of State. Burghley used this atlas to illustrate domestic matters. The map takes the form of a bird's eye view. St Mawes and its larger sister castle, Pendennis are shown. These were built by Henry VIII as part of a defensive chain of fortresses to protect the south coast of England after 1538 after a peace treaty was signed by Francis I of France and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor King of Spain, making an invasion of their combined forces likely.
The castles are depicted with accuracy showing their architectural form. The rest of the information presented here is shown with equal care: individual buildings are depicted with their particular architectural features recorded, such as the stepped gable of the tower in a college quadrangle in ‘perm:borough’ and thatched cottages. A dominant feature of the map is the network of field boundaries that the draughtsman has recorded. It is not clear whether these are a generic representation of fields or whether they are actual observed boundaries. Areas of raised ground are shown as are forests. The road network is highlighted in red, suggesting a preoccupation with communication routes. Lord Burghley has annotated the map in places, labelling a rocky outcrop ‘black rock’. Features of the coast and the sea surrounding it were of great importance as knowledge of them is vital for matters of defence, an issue of great significance during Elizabeth’s reign when England was under threat from Spain.
William Cecil, Lord Burghley