This historic engraving is from John Stow’s A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster… Corrected, Improved, and Very Much Enlarged… to the Present Time completed by John Strype. This is the fifth edition of the work published by Churchill [and others] in 1720 in London. It is the first Strype edition, the best and most desriable. John Stow originally published the work in 1698 and John Strype improved upon and enlarged the work.
The work featured exact maps of the city, surrounding suburbs, and wards. It also included engravings of some important buildings and estates. Stow’s work was the “starting point of all inquiry into the subject of Elizabethan London.” Of the ward maps, Hyde noted “Many of these maps are excellent. Their clarity and accuracy fulfill the requirements of the student of London history.” (Hyde) Johannes Kip was responsible for many of the building or monument engravings.
“The reader of A Survey travels with Stow through each of the city’s wards and the adjoining city of Westminster, learns about the wall, bridges, gates, and parish churches . . . [Stow] also records the negative aspects of urban growth, in the shape of unsightly sprawl, filth, the destruction of ancient monuments, and above all poverty. His book approaches the thoroughness of an encyclopaedia . . . It is noteworthy that while Camden’s Britannia was written in Latin for the educated élite, Stow’s Survey was composed in the language of his fellow countrymen.”
“Throughout his life at Low Leyton, Strype crossed the River Lea into London each week to meet and converse with his antiquarian friends and to call on his contacts in the book trade. . . . The Survey had been repeatedly revised and enlarged in order to keep up with the changing aspect of the post-fire city, now much expanded and altered in its religion and other ways. . . . Although Strype had arranged most of the work by 1707, and the engravings had been prepared, it was set aside after the publication of Edward Hatton’s New View of London in 1708, which seemed to cover much the same ground and was considerably smaller and cheaper. . . . Finally, once the defects of Hatton’s book were acknowledged another agreement in November 1716 led to the Survey’s publication at the end of 1720. . . . The print run was probably more than 500 copies . . . To quote Merritt, By this stage the Survey has a multiple personality, switching with little warning from nostalgic Elizabethan antiquary [Stow] . . . to diligent post-Restoration recorder of events [Strype] and back again.” (Merritt, 87)