Old Hampshire Mapped


Drayton's Hampshire 1613
These notes are made from a map of Dorset and Hampshire by Michael Drayton, about 1613. The item used is in the Map Collection of Hampshire CC Museums Service, item HMCMS:KD1996.23.

The map is fantastical; a true product of its age alongside more serious cartography - tho' perhaps it was regarded just as seriously. All that is delineated are the woods and streams. These are boldly drawn and each is decorated with a figure: a naked nymph is the goddess of each stream; a scantily clad dryad with a spear or bow, a huntress, is the goddess of each wood. The larger islands: Portsea, Hayling, and Thorney each has a naked nymph, with wig or headdress, hands held aloft - perhaps dancing? The Isle of Wight has a more imposing wench, clothed with a little drapery. Relief is hardly shown - tho' this is part of Drayton's objectives. Presumably there are no hills in Hampshire that he feels worth drawing; some hills are mentioned in his song. Although there is mention of Hurst and Calshot Castles in the song that accompanies the map, they are not shown on the map.

The map was published alongside a poem, 'Polyolbion'; the second song in the work belongs to the map of Hampshire and Dorset. The author's introduction makes his intentions and his appreciation of the importance of his work quite clear. It is, by turns, hilarious and boring to our 20th century educated ears; the verse is worse, the descriptions of streams and woods nonsense.

Michael Drayton

Michael Drayton was born 1563. He was probably at one time a page to Sir Henry Goodere of Powlesworth. Throughout the 16th century he published poetry, such as 'Idea, The Shepherds Garland, in nine Eglogs' 1593, and historical poems such as 'The Tragicall Legend of Robert, Duke of Normandie' in 1596 and the 'Ballad of Agincourt' included in 'Poemes Lyrick and Pastorall' about 1605. He was a friend of Shakespeare. Michael Drayton died 1631.

Poly-Olbion was a long poetic topography of England eventually finished about 1622.

References : 1948 (later? reprint): Concise Dictionary of National Biography: Oxford University Press

Cope, Gilbert: 1981: Puzzling Aspects of Drayton's Polyolbion: Map Collector: no.17: pp.16-20

Drayton, Michael: 1613: Polyolbion: (London)

Hooper, Richard, Rev: 1876: Complete Works of Michael Drayton: Smith, John R (London)

Drayton's Hampshire 1613, contents
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Old Hampshire Mapped

Map HMCMS:KD1996.23