Map of the week – Twickenham Stadium

Twickenham Stadium
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Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2500 scale with present-day aerial photo overlay.

This weekend, Twickenham Stadium will host the England – France Rugby Union match – sometimes known as le Crunch. This is the 84th time the 2 sides have met in the Six Nations (previously Five Nations) Championship.

Although the teams had met from 1906, the first match between the 2 nations in this Championship was played at the Parc des Princes in Paris in 1910 (France winning 11-3).
The following year, they met at Twickenham with an English victory of 37-0.

The map here shows the land prior to being bought by the RFU in 1907 with an overlay of the Stadium today. England had previously hosted their international matches at Crystal Palace, Richmond Athletic Ground or at Welford Road in Leicester.

The RFU, advised by their committee member William Williams and their treasurer William Cail that a new RFU home was needed, decided to buy the land on the east bank of the River Crane near the village of Whitton and to the north of the town of Twickenham.

Part of the land purchased was a market garden growing cabbages – the Stadium today is still affectionately known as the Cabbage Patch.

The first game played at the ground was in 1909 between local teams, Harlequins and Richmond. The first international match was played the following year between England and Wales.

The Stadium’s original capacity was 20,000 spectators, today, after much redevelopment, it can hold 82,000 making it the second largest stadium in the UK after Wembley and the fifth largest in Europe.

Apart from a brief spell as grazing land during WW1, it has remained the world’s largest stadium dedicated solely to rugby – although it has hosted numerous rock concerts and even a BBC Top Gear Car Rugby match…

Map of the week – Edgehill

EdgehillJanuary 1643

3 months after the first battle of the Civil War, Edgehill, a pamphlet describing the ghostly events that continued in the area after the battle was published. Titled “A Great Wonder in Heaven”, it reported the first encounter with a ghostly re-enactment of the battle by local shepherds. The priest at Kineton also described his brush with the ghosts when around the battlefield. King Charles dispatched a Royal Commission to investigate – they too described a ghostly battle scene, the details tallied with survivors actual accounts of the real battle.

The villagers decided the only way to rid themselves of these phantoms was to bury all the battle-dead in Christian graves (the bodies still remained on the field through the winter).

This map shows the battle area with Grave Ground and Graveground Coppice clearly marked.

To this day, there are still reports of eerie sounds and phantom soldiers appearing at the scene on the anniversary of the battle.

The area has also has a fascinating 20th century military history that can be explored

Map of the week – Moneygall the birthplace of Falmouth Kearney

In 1850 Falmouth Kearney, a maternal great-great-great grandfather of Barack Obama, emigrated from the Irish village of Moneygall in County Offaly to New York City before eventually settling in Tipton County, Indiana. Kearney’s daughter Mary Ann, the youngest of his ten children, was the grandmother of Stanley Dunham, President Obama’s maternal grandfather.
obama3
(map shown: Irish 6 Inch First Edition – 1840) 

When Kearney, with his sister Margaret Cleary and her husband William, set sail for the United States they left behind a country plagued by the potato blight that had destroyed families and livelihoods and left people starving. From the 1840s to the end of the 1850s, about 1.7 million emigrants moved from Ireland to the United States. In 1841 the population of the entire parish of Moneygall was approximately 8,500. Today the population is about 1,600.

Moneygall is to be found on the border of counties Offaly and North Tipperary. The name (Muine Gall in Irish, meaning ‘thicket of (the) foreigners’ ) is thought to come from the remains of Viking raiders who were slain and buried nearby after a failed attack on the great annual market at Rosecrea in 942.

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Map of the week – Berkeley Castle and the last days of Edward II

Berkeley Castle, whose origins date to the 11th century, can be found on the outskirts of the town of Berkeley, Gloucestershire and is traditionally believed to be the scene of the murder of King Edward II.
BerkelyCastle
The map shown above is a 1:2,500 county series map from 1880

Edward’s reign was marked by alleged incompetence, political squabbling and military losses including the devastating defeat at Bannockburn in 1314. He was eventually overthrown by his wife Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer, an exiled opponent of Edward, in favour of Isabella’s son who was crowned Edward III in January 1327.

After Edward II was deposed in 1326 he was exiled to Berkeley Castle, where in late September 1327, after a failed escape, he was reputedly murdered by means unknown. Although popular stories of a red hot poker or suffocation persist, some commentators have claimed that Edward’s escape was actually successful, and that someone else was later murdered in his place. Whatever the truth, much of the original fabric of Berkeley Castle still stands as a reminder of the last days of one of England’s Plantagenet kings.

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Map of the week – World adopts Greenwich Mean Time

Greenwich meridian chosen as the official prime meridian.

From the 17th century onwards Greenwich, home to the national observatory, had been the centre for the study of time as well as the skies, the link being the need for accurate timekeeping for navigation. Accordingly, a meridian at the Greenwich Observatory(originally the site of Greenwich Castle, constructed by the Duke of Gloucester, in 1433) was set, by the British, as the zero point of reference for determining time and longitude.

GreenwichObservatory
Greenwich Mean Time was first adopted across the island of Great Britain by the Railway Clearing House in 1847 to standardise train timetables, and by almost all railway companies by the following year. By the end of 1880 GMT had been legally adopted throughout the island of Great Britain.

In 1884 the US Government called a conference to determine a standard for world time keeping. After deliberation the Washington conference decided on the meridian at Greenwich as the reference point. Forty-one delegates from 25 nations met and by the end of the conference, Greenwich had won the prize of Longitude 0º by a vote of 22 in favour to 1 against (San Domingo), with two abstentions (France and Brazil).
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Map of the week – Why troops “break step” when crossing a bridge.

Broughton Bridge was a suspended-deck suspension bridge built in 1826 to span the River Irwell between Broughton and Pendleton, now in Salford, Greater Manchester. It was one of the first suspension bridges constructed in Europe.
broughton
On 12 April 1831, the bridge collapsed, reportedly owing to mechanical resonance induced by troops marching over the bridge in step. A detachment of 74 men from the 60th Rifle Corps were returning to their barracks in Salford by way of Broughton bridge marching four abreast. At first the bridge begin to vibrate in time with their footsteps. Finding the vibration a pleasant sensation some of them started to whistle a marching tune, and they began to “humour it by the manner in which they stepped”, causing the bridge to vibrate even more. As a result a bolt in one of the stay-chains snapped, causing the bridge to collapse at one end, throwing about 40 of the men into the river. None of the men were killed, but 20 were injured, including six who suffered severe injuries including broken arms and legs. As a result of the incident, the British Army issued an order that troops should “break step” when crossing a bridge. A requirement that is still in place to this day.

Map of the week – The Great London Beer Flood of 1814

On October 17 1814 tragedy struck as nine people lost their lives in tidal wave of beer. The Horse Shoe Brewery of Messrs. Meux & Co. at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street (where the Dominion Theatre now stands) was an impressive collection of buildings with enormous beer-vats towering above the roof tops.

OxfordStreet
(map shown: OS County Series 1:2,500)

Every one of these vats held 3,550 barrels of beer each amounting to more than a million pints.

At around half past five on the evening of Monday October 17 an iron strap binding one of the giant barrels snapped, causing the weakened vessel to split, releasing its entire contents. Worse was to come as the force of its disintegration ruptured nearby vats, releasing more than 300,000 gallons of beer that smashed down the brewery wall and surged through the streets. The surrounding area, known as St Giles Rookery, was a multitude of small tenements, crowded with tenants of the poorer classes. Several people were found drowned in their basements; one was crushed in a pub demolished by the wave; two children were also described as having been swept away by the onrushing wall of beer. One source also tells of a man who died days later due to alcohol poisoning after succumbing to the lakes of beer left behind.

Cassini map of the week – Guildford 1816

Cassini’s map of the week – Guildford

guildford3

Guildford 1816 Ordnance Survey Old Series

Ever wondered why Guildford developed in the location seen today? By referring to the Cassini Old Series maps it can be seen how Guildford, the county town of Surrey, developed in a gap in the North Downs, through which the River Wey passes. Any traveller in Surrey heading from North to South, or vice versa, would make straight for the gap in the chalk hills rather than climbing the the escarpments of the downs.

Before the advent of contour lines each hand drawn Ordnance Survey map indicated the relief of the land with hatchuring (from the Old French word hacher, to cross hatch) making it clearly visible how the landscape played a vital role in the positioning and settlement of cities, towns and villages across the length and breadth Britain.

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