Richard Horwood

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Horwood's map of London, 1795

Richard Horwood (1757/8–1803)[1] was a surveyor and cartographer. Between 1792 and 1799 he published a Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster the Borough of Southwark and Parts adjoining Shewing every House. At the time this was the largest map ever printed in Britain. After he decided to chart the entire city of London, down to each individual building, Horwood set about soliciting subscriptions to finance the project in 1790. His intention was to publish the complete map within two years, at a scale of 26 inches to the mile. However, the scope of the project was so extensive, and his cost to complete it so high, that rather than taking the estimated two years, the project took almost ten to complete. Despite acquiring royal patronage from King George III, the project suffered financial hardship, making it even more difficult to produce. However, Horwood eventually published the entire map, consisting of 32 sheets (four rows of eight columns). The last sheet was made available in 1799.[2]

In 1800 he wrote of the map, in a letter to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce:[3][4]

The execution of it has cost me nine years severe labour and indefatigable perseverance; and these years formed the most valuable part of my life. I took every angle; measured almost every line; and after that, plotted and compared the whole work. The engraving, considering the immense mass of work, is, I flatter myself, well done.

Horwood also published a map of Liverpool, the city where he died impoverished in 1803, not long after completing his extensive project.

Modern usage[edit]

Sections of an 1813 edition of the London map are reproduced in Charles Palliser's novel The Quincunx. The story is set a few years after the publication of the map, which is used by one of the characters.

A selection of the Horwood maps were used in the publication of Timbuctoo, a novel based on the adventures of Robert Adams, which includes five large fold-out maps of London.


  1. ^ Richard Horwood, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  2. ^ Richard Tames. London: A Cultural History. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-19-530953-9
  3. ^ Horwood, Richard (1803). "Letter". Transactions of the Society Instituted at London for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. London: C. Spilsbury for the Society. 21: 311–313.
  4. ^ "Richard Horwood (c.1758-1803)". Romantic London. Retrieved 27 October 2015.

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