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 – The Foundling Hospital

Map: Stanford’s Library Atlas published in 1891
The Foundling Hospital

The Foundling Hospital
The Foundling Hospital (The word “hospital” was used in a more general sense than it is today) was founded in 1741 by philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram. It was a children’s home established for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children.”In September 1742, the first stone of the a Hospital was laid in Bloomsbury, lying north of Great Ormond Street and west of Gray’s Inn Lane (the first children were admitted to the Foundling Hospital on 25 March 1741, in a temporary house in Hatton Garden). The western wing was finished in October 1745. An eastern wing was added in 1752 “in order that the girls might be kept separate from the boys”.The Hospital was later to be described as “the most imposing single monument erected by eighteenth century benevolence” and became London’s most popular charity.In 1756, the House of Commons resolved that all children offered should be received, that local receiving places should be appointed all over the country, and that the funds should be publicly guaranteed. A basket was accordingly hung outside the hospital; the maximum age for admission was raised from two months to twelve, and a flood of children poured in from country workhouses. In less than four years 14,934 children were presented at the door..In the 1920s, the Hospital decided to move to a healthier location in the countryside. The buildings were eventually sold to property developer James White in 1926. He had hoped to transfer Covent Garden Market to the site, but the local residents successfully opposed the plan. In the end, the original Hospital building was demolished and the children were moved to Redhill in Surrey.

The Foundling Hospital still has a legacy on the original site. Seven acres of it were purchased, with financial support from the newspaper proprietor Lord Rothermere, for use as a playground for children. The area is now called Coram’s Fields.

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Map of the week – Grey Friars, burial place of King Richard III


Map Date: 1887

Greyfriars was a Franciscan monastic community (called Grey Friars from the colour of their garments), established on the west side of Leicester from about 1255, and demolished at its dissolution in the late 1530s. Although a small monastery, its Church acquired national significance when Richard III was buried there following his death at Bosworth Field.

Richard III (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485) was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at Bosworth Field, the decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, is sometimes regarded as the end of the Middle Ages in England.

In August 1485, a rebellion led by Henry Tudor landed in Pembrokeshire, with a small contingent of French troops, and marched through Wales recruiting foot soldiers and skilled archers on his way towards London.

Richard mustered his troops and intercepted Henry’s army south of Market Bosworth. The King divided his army, which outnumbered Henry’s, into three groups. One was assigned to the Duke of Norfolk and another to the Earl of Northumberland. Henry kept most of his force together under the command of the experienced Earl of Oxford. Richard’s vanguard, commanded by Norfolk, attacked but struggled against Oxford’s men. Northumberland took no action when signalled to assist his king, so Richard gambled everything on a charge across the battlefield to kill Henry and end the fight. Seeing the king’s knights separated from his army, Lord Stanley, and Sir William Stanley, who had brought a force to the battlefield, but held back while they decided which side it would be more advantageous to support, led their men to Henry’s aid, surrounding and killing Richard. Richard was the last English king to die in battle.

Following his death at Bosworth Field, Richard III’s body was thrown across a horse and carried to Leicester where, after a period of public display, it was buried inside Greyfriars Church. Ten years later, Henry VII paid for a tomb to be built. The tomb was presumed to have been demolished along with the Church following its dissolution after 1536.

Sir Robert Catlyn acquired the site following its dissolution by Henry VIII and sold it to Robert Herrick, who built a mansion with extensive gardens over the east end of the Friary grounds. These gardens were visited by Christopher Wren Sr. in 1611, who recorded being shown a handsome stone pillar with an inscription, “Here lies the body of Richard III, some time King of England”. Any remains of such a pillar having long since disappeared with the subsequent redevelopment of the land.

However, the Archaeology service of the University of Leicester, along with the Richard III Society and Leicester City Council, initiated an archaeological study resulting in three trenches being dug across the parking area behind the buildings on Greyfriars. These excavations revealed walls of the cloisters and the Church, enabling a possible layout for the monastic buildings to be drawn. Also found was the complete skeleton of a male showing severe scoliosis and major head wounds. On 4 February 2013 it was confirmed that the DNA matched, that the radiocarbon agreed, and that the characteristics of the bones and the nature of the head wounds were all entirely consistent with it being the remains of Richard III.

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Map of the week – St. Valentine’s Day


Map: Valentines Farm, Hertfordshire 1870-1894

The History of St. Valentine’s Day
St. Valentine’s Day began as a religious celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Nothing is known reliably of St. Valentine except his name and that he died on the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14 sometime around the year 270.

The ‘Roman Martyrology‘, the Catholic Church’s official list of recognized saints, for February 14 gives only one Saint Valentine. It records that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius is said to have taken a liking to his prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon the priest was condemned to death.

The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, but many of the current legends that characterise Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporaries  when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.

The earliest surviving valentines in English appear in the Paston Letters, written in 1477 by Margery Brewes to her future husband John Paston “my right well-beloved valentine, I recommend me unto you full heartedly”.

Love it or hate it, Valentines Day is getting ever nearer so why not buy your loved one a personal gift to remember that romantic place and time in your life?

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Map of the week – Alloway & Burns Night


Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796)

Robert Burns CottageOn this day: On the 25th January 1759, Robert Burns was born in a humble cottage in the village of Alloway, two miles south of Ayr. His parents Willian Burnes (later changed to Burns) and Agnes Broun were tenant farmers, but they ensured their son received a good education and he soon began to read avidly. Burns increasingly turned his attentions away from farming and towards the passions of poetry, nature, drink and women which would characterise the rest of his life

Burns Night, in effect a second national day, is celebrated on Burns’s birthday, 25 January, with Burns suppers around the world. The first Burns supper in The Mother Club in Greenock was held on what was thought to be his birthday on 29 January 1802; in 1803 it was discovered from the Ayr parish records that the correct date was 25 January 1759.

The format of Burns suppers has changed little since. The basic format starts with a general welcome and announcements, followed with the Selkirk Grace. After the grace comes the piping and cutting of the haggis, when Burns’s famous “Address to a Haggis” is read and the haggis is cut open.

Address to a Haggis (first verse)
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

(sonsie = jolly/cheerful, aboon = above, painch = paunch/stomach, thairm = intestine)

The event usually allows for people to start eating just after the haggis is presented. This is when the reading called the “immortal memory”, an overview of Burns’s life and work, is given. The event usually concludes with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne”.

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Map of the week – Rockfield

The use of the English name, Rockfield (near Monmouth), is first documented in 1566. However, it is believed that the name dates back to the 11th century, being derived from the French, Rocheville. The pre-Norman name for the settlement was Llanoronwy.

OS 1:2,500 County Series 1887

37 years ago, the band Queen started the New Year as they had left the previous year, at No. 1 with Bohemian Rhapsody. The song was taken from the album A Night at The Opera that had been recorded earlier in 1975.

The song and album were begun at the aptly named Rockfield Studios just outside the village of Rockfield, near Monmouth, and completed at four further recording studios across the country.

Rockfield Studios was started in 1963 by brothers Charles and Kingsley Ward who converted the outbuildings at the family home, Amberley Farm, into the world’s first residential recording studio.

The map shown is from 1887, and forms a small part of Cassini’s huge collection of  historical OS maps available for download or as gifts.

The studios continue to maintain their reputation as one of the foremost in the country and have an enviable list of returning musicians. What’s even better is that when not in use by musicians, the cottages are available to rent.

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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 – 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.
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 – Llanwddyn the lost village of Vyrnwy

Llanwddryn the lost village of Vyrnwy

The 1200 acre reservoir known as Lake Vyrnwy (Welsh: Llyn Efyrnwy) was created by Liverpool Corporation to supply Liverpool with a reliable and plentiful supply of water. The Victorians built the dam, the first large masonry dam of its kind in Britain, between 1881 and 1888 as a result of the need for a new water supply and it was decided that the pure water of the Welsh mountains was ideal to be carried, by aqueduct, from Vyrnwy to the city.On 14th July 1881 the first commemorative stone was laid by the third Earl of Powys who was one of the owners of the village of Llanwddyn, which was doomed to be drowned by the reservoir. At that time Llanwddyn consisted of the church, 2 chapels, 3 public houses and 37 houses, 10 farmsteads and 1 mill.By the time the reservoir was opened in 1892 a new settlement had been built lower down the valley by the Liverpool Corporation. The buildings of the old village were razed to the ground before the inaugural filling of the reservoir. Even the remains of the dead were removed from the churchyard and reburied next to the new church before the land was finally submerged.

Today the only place you can see the original village of Llanwddyn is on a map.

Maps shown are available from the Cassini Maps shop. Maps can be centred on any location in the UK.

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.

(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.