A Rough Plan of the Mouth of the River Medway
This is a rough sketch of the Mouth of the Medway. It is not dated. The fortification of Sheppy and the entrance to the river Medway was not part of the 1539 defence program, prompted by the fear of an invasion from the combined forces of France and Spain after Francis I of France, and Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain signed a peace treaty in 1538. However, it was during Henry VIII’s reign the Medway was first used as a naval anchorage. By 1547 the approaches to the area were defended by block houses’ in addition to the medieval castle of Queenborough. Since the accession of the Protestant Elizabeth I in 1558 England’s relationship with Spain had deteriorated to the extent that Philip II wished to depose Elizabeth in favour of the Catholic Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, who had agreed to disinherit her protestant son (later James VI of Scotland and I of England) in favour of Philip. The fear that Spanish warships might raid from the Flemish ports in an attempt to destroy ships anchored in the river meant that the defence of the Medway was again under consideration in 1574.
A Map of the Isle of Sheppey
This map of the Isle of Sheppey dates from 1574 and is thought to be the work of the cartographer Robert Lythe.Lythewas a cartographer of note as he created the first accurate map of Ireland while under the employ of the Crown and is therefore comparable to Christopher Saxton in his importance in the context of the history of cartography. This map was created for the purposes of defence and also to solve the problem of drainage in the area. The emphasis on streams and waterways suggests a link with the repeated attempts to avoid the silting up of Sandwich Haven by increasing the amount of water it could hold. The works were to be financed by a local levy, hence perhaps the prominence of names which may be a guide to apportionment. Anglo-Spanish relations had been in steady decline since the accession of the protestant Elizabeth I in 1558. In 1574 there was a fear that the Spanish would launch an attack from the Netherlands on ships at Chatham. In the idea of transferring the main fleet to Queenborough was suggested as a precaution. Under the command of Sir William Winter, Surveyor of the Navy and Sir William Pelham, Lieutenant General of Ordnance, and Lythe a survey of Sheppey was carried out. Sheerness and the Isle of Grain were rejected in favour of a new port at Swaleness opposite Queenbrough which would prevent a raid from the rear by way of the Swale. Swaleness was a marsh and in order to build fortifications drainage and embanking or the area was necessary. This was authorised by the Privy Council in September 1574. Earthworks were created but the fortifications were not built and in the event the Spanish did not invade until 1588.
Mouths of the Thames and Medway from Ipswich to Sandwich and Maldon and Rochester to the Sea
This is a map showing the mouths of the Thames and the Medway from Ipswich to Sandwich and Maldon and Rochester to the sea. It dates from around 1544 and is annotated Rycherd Cavendishe made this carde’. Richard Cavendish was a master gunner who had supervised new defence works at Berwick and Wark in 1522-3. The map seems to have been made with the purposes of defence and navigation in mind. Coastal forts and navigational channels are shown. The shoreline is exaggerated in order to illustrate clearly how an enemy might move ashore and how they might be stopped. In this case the enemy was England’s ancient adversary France, with whom hostilities had resumed in 1542. This map of the vulnerable south east coast, was made against this historical background. The fear of a French invasion was very real. In 1514 the French had invaded Brighton, and in 1545 French ships entered the Solent and landed on the Isle of Wight. The lines which cover the sea areas of the map are called rhumb lines. These are lines of constant bearing that radiate from compass roses and allow the sailor to plot a course from harbour to harbour using dividers and straight edge. Vignettes of several towns are included on this map, Sandwich, Rochester and Canterbury are shown. The view of Essex is possibly derived from a survey Cavendish made in 1520. Other settlements are formalized showing rows of red roofed houses with a church in the centre. A scale bar annotated by 3’ is included, however, as this occupies a green painted area it is likely that this was added later.
Chart of the mouth of the River Thames, c1540
This map, showing parts of Kent and Sussex, comes from a 16th-century portfolio of coastal charts and drawings It incorporates miniature copies of town plans that are now lost including what are probably the earliest plans of Canterbury, Rochester and Sandwich The mapmaker was Sir Richard Cavendish With its emphasis on sandbanks and beaches, the map was evidently intended for navigation and defence purposes The decorative quality of the map suggests it was meant for the eyes of the king, Henry VIII North is to the left of the map and East to the top, making the map appear on its side to modern eyes
Cavendish, Sir Richard