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What is a gazetteer? We explain its function and purpose and how you can view our London gazetteer online.

What is a gazetteer?

From Volume III onwards, each atlas contains a gazetteer. A gazetteer is a list of names (of buildings, streets, etc.) complete with some form of information about each place. In its simplest form, it is a listing of map names with a map reference - for example, a town's latitude and longitude or its map grid-reference as listed at the end of a reference atlas.

In the British Historic Towns Atlas, the gazetteer gives details of all names that appear on those maps that we have prepared for the atlas (so, not the reproduced OS map or location maps). These are the town-development maps, and the principal, summary map (Map 1 in each atlas) which shows the town in the context of a 19th- or early 20th-century map.

Here's a sample of the gazetteer from the atlas of Windsor and Eton (Vol IV):

Using the entry for Goddard's Lane as an example, here's how Goddard's lane appears on Map 5 in square G10:

You will see that each entry lists:

  • the map numbers on which the feature appears (5)

  • its grid-reference (G10) and

  • former names by which it was known (Goderdeslane)

The entry details the chronological history of the feature and includes:

  • references (ERC10/ 334,5)

  • cross-references for additional or related information (See Church Way, Eton...)

The Gazetteer of London

The full content of the gazetteer of the Atlas Volume III of London to 1520 is available, complete with references and bibliography in our digital archives.

The London gazetteer looks like the following example:

Here, the bold number to the right of the heading represents one of the four double sheets of the map of London in 1520, numbered 1 to 4 from west to east (map number 3 in the example). The second and third numbers (e.g. 31) are paired together and define the rectangle in a notional grid within which the feature lies, each double page being divided into tenths. Note that in the case of the London atlas, the origin of the grid is in the top-left of the map, so you should count down from the top.

Thus the church of St Giles Without Cripplegate can be found on map 3, 3/10ths of the way along and 1/10th of the way down the double page. Its vicarage can be found a little to the west.


About the British Historic Towns Atlas

What is a Historic Towns Atlas? We explain text, illustrations and format

What are the aims of the project?

Former Trust Chair Professor Caroline Barron writes about the history of the project and its connection with Oxford

What is a gazetteer? We explain its function and purpose and how you can view our London gazetteer online.

Former Trust Chair Professor Keith Lilley writes about the Trust's evolving approach to the British Historic Towns Atlas and the maps that it publishes

A published list of articles about and references to the British Towns Atlas and the European Project

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