Santa’s Lap: Unusual Maps Of London

Every day until Christmas we will be pointing you in the direction of a London-inspired Christmas gift that (with a bit of luck) you won’t already have on your list. Climb up onto our collective lap and we’ll see what we can move from our sack to your stockings…

Everybody loves an old map. We know this from our page-views. Whenever we mention maps, we get lots of clicks. Hence, we’re happy to commend the following London map sites to you, as a source of unusual Christmas presents.

The Grand Map of London

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Wellingtons Travel produced this beautiful colour map of London at the time of the 2012 Olympics. Although it contains modern landmarks like the Shard and London Eye, it is designed to look Victorian. The cartographic craftsmanship is superb. An 87cm x 51cm fold-out version (a ‘Traveller’s Map‘) can be bought for £15, or you can order a canvas wall map (87cm x 51cm, £79; 170cm x 100cm, £198).

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Shire’s Historical Maps

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Shire specialises in rescuing old maps from obscurity. If you went to the recent MacDonald Gill exhibition at Pitzhanger Manor Gallery, you’ll be familiar with the artist’s glorious ‘Wonderground’ map, available from Shire for just £7.99. The company also stocks historical treasures such as a Balloon View of London 1851, a Panorama of Nelson’s London and Charles Booth’s poverty maps, all at £7.99. You can browse the company’s complete London catalogue, including books, here.

Herb Lester Maps

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We’ve covered Herb Lester many times before, but continue to recommend its maps for their sheer novelty and invention. Titles include Clandestine London, The Look of London, Untamed London and An Uncle’s Guide To London. The company also produces maps of other cities around the world. More stocking filler than wall chart, each map nevertheless offers plenty of cartographic nourishment for the curious mind. Each map is £4, or you can buy in bundles (the Londoner Gift Set for £35 gets you seven maps and a travel wallet).

CurioCity

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Another stocking-filler of joy, each CurioCity map takes a different theme (pilgrimage, London dissected, London animals…) and merges cartographic deftness with a jolly packet of local trivia. Each issue is just £2.50 + £1 P&P, or you can get A2 posters of the gorgeous maps for £35 (+£5). Order online, or seek them out at the counters of London’s better book shops and cultural venues.

These are just four of our favourite London map outlets. We’ll cover the wonder that is Arty Globe in another instalment, and can also recommend London Trails, who provide tours of London that make use of old maps to bring history to life.

See previous gift suggestions.

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Article by Matt Brown | 4,569 Articles | View Profile | Twitter

  • http://hamlife.blogspot.com/ Matthew Rees

    Thanks. I’ll be getting some of these maps for Xmas, provided my wife has understood the very loud hints that I have just given her.