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Our History


The British Atlas of Historic Towns Project is established as part of a pan-European project to produce atlases of consistent scale and content for the easy comparison of the growth and development of European cities. The principles behind the atlases are to provide maps and text in a way which fills a gap both in knowledge and in tools for urban studies.


The British Historic Towns Atlas Volume I 'Historic Towns - Maps and Plans of towns and cities in the British Isles'  is published. Edited by Mary D. Lobel OBE FSE, the volume is an authoritative and unique work and is the first of a series explaining in cartographic and literary form the history and development of towns and cities in the British Isles from the earliest times to 1800.

The volume establishes for the first time, a reliable ground record of towns for periods of their history long before the science of surveying and mapping is developed. As such it provides the very first scientifically accurate maps of British towns during the centuries before industrialization.

This outstanding achievement of mapping the past, as if the features existed on the ground today, provides a new dimension and insight into the development of British towns and cities.


The British Historic Towns Atlas Volume II 'The Atlas of Historic Towns'  is published. Following the success of Volume I which was hailed for its union of hsitorical scholarship and revolutionary cartographic techniques, the new volume sought to deal at length with four diverse but pre-eminent pronvicial cities: Bristol, Cambridge, Coventry and Norwich.

As in its predecessor, each is treated individually although the commentaries make it clear that none developed in geographical, political or economic isolation from the rest of Britain or indeed of Western Europe.


The British Historic Towns Atlas Volume III 'The City of London from Prehistoric Times to c.1520' is published. Focusing on the city of London, this large-format atlas provides ten full-colour maps of the City of London from Prehistoric times to the early sixteenth century. 

Supported with a full textual commentary and a gazetteer, this volume offers a unique view of the early development of a great capital city covering Pre-Roman times, Roman London, City of London c.1270, City of London c.1520, Parishes c.1520 and Wards c.1520.


The Historical Map of Windsor and Eton about 1860 is compiled and published with local author and historian Dr David Lewis who has spent many years extensively researching the history of the two towns including their buildings and streets. The map is accompanied with an informed introduction to the two towns and their history, with short essays on Windsor Castle and Eton College, and a gazetteer of the towns' main buildings and sites.

Information on London in 1520 was first researched in the 1980s by Col Henry Johns, one of the founders of the Historic Towns Trust. In 2013 his information was updated and converted to a sheet-map, Historical Map of Tudor London c1520, which covered a larger area including parts of Southwark. All the major buildings were reviewed and revised to take into account research and archaeology over the last 30 years. The buildings are classified by type (e.g. parish churches, civic and commercial buildings, defensive structures), and the map shows parish boundaries for the first time.


Following on from the publication of the Historical Map of Windsor and Eton (2013), author Dr Lewis further publishes with the Historic Towns Trust, the British Historic Towns Atlas Volume IV on Windsor and Eton. 

The volume is an illustrated atlas of the history of the remarkable and famous settlements of Windsor and Eton, on opposite banks of the Thames, explaining the growth and form of the settlements across two thousand years. Reviewer Nick Holder writes "This beautiful and stimulating work heralds the revival of the British Historic Towns Atlas series." Urban History (6 April 2017)

Edited by Dr Peter Addyman (formerly Director of York Archaeological Trust), the Historic Towns Trust publishes Atlas Volume V on the remarkable city of York. The volume is written by a team of experts on the various phases of the development of this important city.

At the heart of the atlas is a detailed map of the city at 1:2500 showing all the sites of York's most important buildings and structures on a base map of c.1850, the first time that such a map of the city had been made. The atlas receives numerous critcial praise including Steven P. Ashbywho writes:

"The Atlas will take its place as an essential source of reference for students of the history, geography, and archaeology of York. This is assured not only by the excellent standard of mapping and illustration, but also by the clarity of writing in the accompanying essays… Indeed, the value of this volume is not only as a lasting statement on the historic development of York, but also as a standard against which future atlases and similar projects — whether online or in hard copy — may be judged." Landscape History (16 May 2017)

In 2015 the The Historic Towns Trust is officially established as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation with the Charity Commission for England and Wales whose stated objectives are:

‘the advancement of education and knowledge through the support and promotion of research into the history and topography of cities and towns in Great Britain and by the dissemination of the results of such research, in particular by the publication of Historic Town Atlases and other maps and related works.’


The Historic Towns Trust publishes an historical map of Winchester, 

from medieval times to 1800. Written by Professor Martin Biddle CBE FBA, the map provides a comprehensive illustrated gazetteer explaining the development and stories of the most important buildings and sites shown on the map. Illustrated with watercolours and photographs of Winchester from the 19th century, many never published before, this is a fascinating publication for all interested in the history of one of England's most attractive cities. 

The Historic Towns Trust publishes a sheet map of historic Oxford. Based on a digitised version of the Ordnance Survey map of Oxford published in 1876, the Historical Map shows the city's main medieval and post-medieval buildings (whether lost or still standing in 1876) against the background of the city in Victorian times.

The map carries a gazetteer and illustrations on the reverse, introducing and explaining Oxford's most important buildings: the castle, the colleges, and the great public and university buildings such as the Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Camera.


The British Historic Towns Atlas Volume VI is published on the historic City of Winchester. The atlas's introduction by Professor Martin Biddle (Winchester Excavations Committee), the late Professor Derek Keene (Institute of Historical Research), Dr Francis Morris (WEC), Dr Edmund Thomas (University of Durham) and Dr Beatrice Clayre (WEC), includes the first comprehensive survey of the Roman city and its history to be published in over a hundred years, and includes the results of the most recent research and archaeology.

The atlas includes a substantial and thorough gazetteer of the town prepared by the authors, with entries on all the principal buildings, structures and streets shown on the maps - it forms a major research publication in its own right.

The Historic Towns Trust publishes an historical map of Kingston upon Hull - from medieval town to industrial city. Introducing a history of the city by Dr David Atkinson, the map is made possible by a generous grant from the Marc Fitch Fund and published in association with the University of Hull.

In September 2017, the map was awarded a Commended Prize in the annual Stanfords Award for Printed Mapping competition run by the British Cartographic Society. The Award provides the Historic Towns Trust industry recognition of the quality of the map by practising, professional cartographers.

 In 2017 Hull also celebrated its status as UK City of Culture.

Following the success of the Tudor London sheet map, the Historic Towns Trust publishes a companion map of Medieval London. The map details London between 1270 and 1300 when its population reached a peak then not reached again until the mid 16th century. 

Showing London at the height of the medieval period, the map is based on the map of London c.1270 which appeared in the Atlas of London up to 1520 but completely revised to take into account the many discoveries — archaeological and historical — that have been made over the past 35 years. The map shows new features such as the water pipes and conduits which brought 'sweet' water to the City; vineyards and orchards; and the new works at the Tower being built by Edward I.

Published in association with the Layers of London Project, the team of historians working on the map is led by Professors Caroline Barron OBE and Trust Chair Professor Vanessa Harding with contributions by Professor Martha Carlin on Southwark, Dr Nick Holder on the religious houses and Tim Tatton-Brown on Westminster and Lambeth.

The Historic Towns Trust publishes a Map of Tudor London. With fewer than a dozen medieval buildings left in the City of London today following the dissolution of monastic houses in the 16th Century, the Great Fire of 1666 which destroyed two thirds of the city and the bombing of the Second World War, buildings and streets of Tudor London have almost completely disappeared.

This map has been reconstructed by historians who have studied the surviving documents, and by archaeologists who have provided evidence from the remains now buried well below the present street level. Their painstaking work has made it possible to create this map of the Tudor city as it was five hundred years ago in the early years of the sixteenth century when the Scottish poet William Dunbar admired London, and celebrated it as 'The Flour of Cities All'.


The Historic Towns Trust publishes an historical map of the city of York. The map opens with a history of the city written by Dr Peter Addyman (former Director of York Archaeological Trust) and a comprehensive gazetteer explaining the development and stories of the most important buildings, streets and sites shown on the map, as well as listing all the city's churches.

Its first edition (published by Old House Books) won the Stanford's Award for Printed Mapping of the British Cartographic Society 2014. It also took the British Cartographic Society Award 2014 which is the BCS's 'Best in Show' prize.


The Historic Towns Trust in association with the University of Bristol, works with a team of Bristol-based historians to create a historic map Map of Bristol 1480 - A Medieval Merchant City.

In 1480 Bristol was a gateway to the New World. A town of merchants and traders, it was a prosperous place, expanding its trade across the seas with Europe and beyond. Printed in full colour, the map includes a descriptive gazetteer of Bristol’s medieval buildings and streets. Informative and educational, it is a major contribution to understanding Bristol’s long and important history.


An Historical Map of Canterbury - From Roman times to 1907 is published in association with the Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT) and Canterbury Christ Church University.

Presented by the Lord Mayor in September, Canterbury Archaeological Trust’s Research Officer, Dr Jake Weekes, receives the John and Peggy Hayes Canterbury Award 2021 for his work on the new map. Also recognised with an award for work on the map was Canterbury Christ Church University’s post-graduate in Cartography, Alfie Day.

The historical map uses a digitised OS map of 1907 to form the background - a time when Canterbury was home to a huge military presence.

The Historic Towns Trust publishes Atlas Volume VII on the city of Oxford. Oxford is one of Europe's most important and well-known university cities, famous for the quantity and quality of the buildings in its historic core. Although the city has been the subject of many studies, the Historic Towns Atlas volume presents the history of its growth for the first time through a series of high-quality maps consistently charting its development and expansion across time.

Included is a detailed map of the city at 1:2500 showing all the sites of Oxford's most important buildings and structures on a base map of c.1870, the first time that such a map of the city has been made.

The volume also presents a 1" OS map of the mid 19th century rescaled to 1:50,000, aerial photographs of the city centre, and illustrations grouped by theme (such as defences and gateways) with many of the illustrations having either never or only rarely been reproduced before.

Working in collaboration with the charity Medieval Coventry, The Historic Towns Trust publishes an historical map of Coventry.  

The map is based on a digitising of large-scale Ordnance Survey maps of 1912–1914 when Coventry's car-making and bicycle-making industries were already well established, as were its textile and chemical industries. The city shows a remarkable number of industrial premises in the city centre, next to medieval alleyways and passages.

With contributions by a first-class team of historians and researchers including former Trust Chair Professor Keith Lilley, it makes a rich contribution to the city and its well-deserved status as UK City of Culture 2021.

The Historic Towns Trust publishes in association with the Alnwick Civic Society an Historical Map of Alnwick & Almouth. Alnwick is one of the most studied small towns in Great Britain, and its wealth of history lends itself to an historical map. The town's form and layout can be traced back to an Anglo-Saxon foundation. Alnmouht was its port, a major grain-exporting centre until its harbour beacme too shallow for larger vessels.

The map has a gazetteer listing the sites of interest in the two towns, illustrations, and a short history of the settlements and their place in the landscape.

The Historic Towns Trust publishes a revised edition of the sheet map of historic Oxford. The revised version includes additional historic buildings and sites, revisions which take into account recent archaeology including the Greyfriars site, and a revised view of Oxford Castle's development and the earthworks at its site.

The map carries an informative introduction to Oxford's history, written by Alan Crossley, the editor of the Historic Towns Atlas VII - Oxford.


In association with the Georgian Society for East Yorkshire, the Historic Towns Trust publishes an Historical Map of Beverly. In the 14th century the town was one of the most populous and prosperous in Britain. This prosperity came from the cloth trade, tanning and brickmaking as well as the markets and fairs, and the many pilgrims who flocked to the shrine of St John of Beverley.

This full-colour map is based on a digitised OS map of Beverley of about 1908, with its medieval, Georgian and Victorian past overlain and important buildings picked out. The Trust is  reunited with three of the authors of the Trust's successful Historical Map of Hull for the publication.

In July 2022, the Historic Towns Trust publishes the much anticipated second edition of its Map of Tudor London. An detailed and enlightening comprehensive report on the second edition, including new observations, a summary of the revision process as well as a bibliography of the revised Map of Tudor London is available to view below.

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