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