Land's End, Cornwall
On this plan of a section of the English south coast, tin and copper mines ('wheals') are indicated by lines of dots arranged in blocks. To the left of Sancred, the ancient fort of Caer Bran is denoted by a circular marking, even though systematic recording of archaeological sites did not become obligatory until 1816. The drawing is considerably worn around the edges, rendering the cartographic detail almost illegible. Long Ships lighthouse is faintly discernible. Colour washes have faded and margins have been trimmed.
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.
Lands End, Mount's Bay, Cornwall
This coastal survey shows the defence works of Mount's Bay, from Mousehole to Marazion. The area's status as a key defence point is shown by the large scale of the map: 6' to the mile. Positions and weights of cannons around the bay are noted, and the artillery on St Michael's Mount is described by a key. Small crosses mark the positions of rocks in the bay. The irregularly protruding surfaces of Augusta Rock and Long Rock are indicated by intersecting lines of varying lengths, differentiating these from the sand, which is symbolised by dots. The condition of this drawing is excellent. It is coloured with watercolour washes.
Mount's Bay, Cornwall
This plan shows Mount’s Bay in Cornwall in an invasion scenario and is thought to date from around 1540. It is orientated with south to the top, Penzance is lower right and St Michael’s Mount is in the centre. Lines extend between St Michael’s Mount and the mainland with distances expressed in words. Details of the landscape are shown pictorially, a feature typical of maps and plans of the Tudor period. Although the houses and churches of the area are depicted generically, the draughtsman has differentiated between those in good condition and those that have fallen into disrepair. Churches, with their towers and steeples, could be used as vantage points for surveillance, hence their prominent depiction here. The building shown here on St Michael’s Mount was home to a Benedictine monastery until the dissolution of the monasteries, after which it was fortified in order to take advantage of its excellent defensive location. The previous function of the building is clear from the crosses which decorate the apex of the gable ends of the central building. The existence of this drawing can be imputed to the threat of invasion which became probable in 1538 after a peace treaty was signed by Francis I of France and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. 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. It is likely that this drawing was executed in order to illustrate defence strategies feared to be necessary in this climate of unease.