LECTURE From Insignificance to Focal Point: the emergence of Highgate as reflected on maps, 1250-1842
March 5 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Peter Barber, former Head of Maps and Views at the British Library
Attkins Memorial Lecture
To appear on a map is not simply an indication of physical existence. It is a registration of perceived significance. Despite its importance as a stopping place on the main road north from London, Highgate only appeared on maps after 1500, once it had been ‘discovered’ as a healthy summer and weekend retreat by wealthy Londoners. It was first mapped in detail in the early seventeenth century.
Subsequent maps showed it as part of a larger whole, generally of the region known today as Greater London. From the 1680s, plans of its parts were created for purposes of management or vanity. But it was only once the wealthy began living there on a permanent basis that Highgate became the object of a map in its own right, itself a reflection of a new self-consciousness.
Peter Barber is the retired Head of Maps and Topography at the British Library, President of the Hornsey Historical Society and author of London: A History in Maps (2012).