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  • Writer's picturePeter Berthoud

Panorama of Remarkable Objects in London - A Map from 1830

Samuel Leigh's map, a Panorama of Remarkable Remarkable Objects in London, was designed to help visitors navigate the extraordinary sights of late Georgian London.


With minor roads and features pruned from the map, the visitor was presented with a clear and focussed view of all the "must-sees" of the day.


Samuel Leigh's map, Panorama of Remarkable Remarkable Objects in London

The map: Panorama of Remarkable Remarkable Objects in London,

engraved for Leigh's New Picture of London by Sidney Hall.


The map featured many London sights that a modern visitor would still consider essential, such as St Paul's Cathedral, The Tower of London and "The King's Palace". But it also included numerous places that a modern visitor would be highly unlikely to seek out, such as the city's prisons, asylums, gas works and reservoirs.


Click on any panel for a larger view.


Leigh's Panorama was one of three maps that came tightly folded and bound in a guidebook Leigh's New Picture of London.


Of the three maps in his guidebook Leigh's Panorama of Remarkable Objects offered the most comprehensive and usable overview of the places a visitor might want to see. From it we can glimpse the variety of coexisting lost entertainments, exhibitions and venues in late Georgian London. These are just a handful of the entertaining sights that a visitor could have used the map to locate, navigate between and enjoy:


Miss Linwood's celebrated gallery of embroidered art in Leicester Square and Mr Backler's gallery of Stained Glass in Newman Street. Fleet Street's Waxworks in Prince Henry's Room and the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, where dubious curiosities drew gawping crowds.


South of the river stood Astley’s Amphitheatre home to the first modern circus ring and nearby the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens described by the Museum of London as a combination of "an art gallery, a restaurant, a brothel, a concert hall and a park". The site of a rival pleasure garden, the Panarmonium can be seen near Battle Bridge but this ambitious project was never completed.


In St Martin's Lane the Apollonicon was exhibited, this was an enormous mechanical musical instrument, capable of playing "any piece of music" with between one and six musicians performing simultaneously.


On City Road, The Peerless Pool welcomed outdoor bathers. Its main bath was 170 feet in length and 100 feet wide and its smaller cold bath was 40 x 20 feet.


And, among the many other delights on offer in the city, were at least five separate attractions all offering visitors spectacular painted views:

  • The Panorama - Leicester Square - The original panorama built by Robert Barker who first coined the word "panorama" to describe his large cylindrical paintings of impressive views. The term "panorama" has since been retrospectively applied to many other large scale views.

  • Barker’s Panorama - Strand - A rival panorama opened by Robert Barker's eldest son Henry Barker. Later both the Strand and the original Leicester Square panoramas were purchased by Robert Burford.

  • The Colosseum - Regents Park - The greatest panorama ever constructed, built to exhibit a 40,000 sq. foot, 360° painting of London as viewed from the cross on the dome of St Paul's Cathedral.

  • The Diorama - Regents Park - Where painted scenes were augmented with lighting, mechanical and other elaborate effects, including a movable auditorium.

  • The Cosmorama - Regents Street - Exhibited smaller scale paintings, viewed through magnifying lenses and enhanced with various optical effects.

Included within the guidebook Leigh provided a detailed plan for viewing London in just eight days. The Panorama of Remarkable Objects would have been particularly useful for visitors who were following this plan. Of that eight day itinerary Leigh says:


By pursuing the following method, the stranger will be enabled to take a cursory view of every remarkable object in a short space of time. To inspect them all minutely would, of course, occupy many weeks.


The other maps included in Leigh's New Picture of London were the Environs of London, showing the surrounding towns, villages and hamlets and a detailed street plan of central London, Leigh's New Plan. The guidebook and its maps were first published in 1818 and regularly updated until the early 1840s. The pace of new developments required the Panorama of Remarkable Objects to be updated and revised more noticeably than the other maps.


This 1830 version of the map features many such updates including London Zoo (opened 1828), the two London Bridges, both in operation at the same time, as the Old was demolished and the New was constructed (from 1825), The Thames Tunnel (begun in 1825 but not completed until 1843), the new General Post Office (opened 1829) and London University (founded in 1829).


The full title of Leigh's guidebook expressed the comprehensive scope of his ambition.


LEIGH's

NEW PICTURE OF LONDON;

OR, A VIEW OF THE

POLITICAL, RELIGIOUS, MEDICAL, LITERARY, MUNICIPAL,

COMMERCIAL, AND MORAL STATE

OF

The British Metropolis;

PRESENTING A

LUMINOUS GUIDE TO THE STRANGER,

ON ALL SUBJECTS CONNECTED WITH

GENERAL INFORMATION, BUSINESS, OR AMUSEMENT.

TO WHICH ARE SUBJOINED A

DESCRIPTION OF THE ENVIRONS,

AND

A PLAN FOR VIEWING LONDON IN EIGHT DAYS


It is a marvellous guidebook and I think the contents live up to the title; updating its text and its accompanying maps for each new edition must have been a monumental task. The full illustrated text, without the maps, of the 1830 edition of Leigh's New Picture of London is available online via Google Books.


Further Reading:

  • Altick, Richard, The Shows of London, Belknap Press, 1978. Magnificent but very expensive, a thorough guide to the history of all London's attractions up to the mid-nineteenth century.

  • Barker, Felix & Peter Jackson, Pleasures of London, London Topographical Society 2008. Copiously illustrated and engagingly written.

  • Hyde, Ralph, Panoramania! Trefoil, 1988. Ralph Hyde's definitive book on panoramas in London, written to accompany his 1988 exhibition at The Barbican.

  • A full colour version of Barker's panorama, in 9 sheets, is available from the London Topographical Society who have also published many other maps, views and related titles.


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