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  • Writer's picturePeter Berthoud

"The Heart of London" - Francis Chichester's Pictorial Map & Jigsaw

In comparison to his other achievements Francis Chichester's maps and jigsaws are often forgotten. His splendid "Heart of London" map and jigsaw have never been fully documented online.

Francis Chichester famously completed his solo circumnavigation of the globe by yacht in 1967. In the 1920s he had been a businessman in New Zealand and a record-breaking pioneer aviator. But in the 1940s he was busy publishing popular maps and jigsaws, from his home in St James's.

Francis Chichester Plaque at 9 St James’s Place London
Francis Chichester's Plaque at 9, St James’s Place, London Image courtesy Simon Harriyott from Uckfield, England, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Chichester's first jigsaw maps were produced from a stock of maps that was surplus to requirements after the Second World War. Chichester purchased 15,000 maps from the Air Ministry and had them made into jigsaws.

The idea of a jigsaw puzzle made from a map was not a new idea. The world's very first jigsaw puzzle of any type was a "dissected map" produced by John Spilsbury in Covent Garden in around 1762. Chichester's twist on this old idea, was that his puzzles would not only improve geographical knowledge but improve map-reading and navigational skills.

Chichester's first "Jig-Saw Map Puzzles" were of areas of conflict that the Air Ministry had purchased during wartime:

No. 1 Dover to Ostend and the North Sea south to Arras

No. 2 Belgium

No. 3 The River Meuse and Holland to Ardennes

No. 4 The Rhine from Duisburg to Coblenz

Later No.5 was specifically designed for Chichester and added to range, it was a large scale map of South East England.

But jigsaw No 6 was different, it was specially commissioned by Chichester. With underlying mapping by George Phillips, in turn based on Ordnance Survey maps, the new map "The Heart of London" required no map reading skills at all but included new miniature drawings of "175 of Old London's most historic or famous buildings".

The map was put into production both as a jigsaw and as a fold-out map in around 1947. I have a feeling that the jigsaw came first and the that idea of producing a foldable pocket version of this most attractive map was an inevitable afterthought.

The Heart of London, A Coloured Picture Map by Francis Chichester

The Heart of London, A Coloured Picture Map - Francis Chichester

Click below to view expanded views of each of the sections.

The Heart of London, A Coloured Picture Map by Francis Chichester

The map's cover is printed on coarse yellow paper.

Heart of London Map Cover




175 of Old London's most

historic or famous buildings

have been separately

sketched on this wonderful

map - many of them drawn

on the spot by the artist.

Price 1/- net


Author and Publisher of Aeronautical

Books & Games

9 St. James's Place,

London, S.W.1"

On the inside cover is an advertisement for the jigsaw:

" Heart of London Chichester Jig-Saw Map Puzzle, No. 6. 180 pieces, LEARN YOUR LONDON from this fascinating novelty in jigsaw puzzles. Price 2/9 plus tax"

The Heart of London, Chichester Jig-Saw Map Puzzle

The Heart of London, Chichester Jig-Saw Map Puzzle

The Heart of London, Chichester Jig-Saw Map Puzzle Box

The jigsaw's box is drab and utilitarian. Economy of costs and materials mattered in the immediate post-war years. The strip of coloured map on the lid was cut from a full map, each map would have yielded enough strips for at least 16 boxes. It is unlikely that you will ever see two boxes with the same map strip on the lid.

Inside the box is a leaflet listing various Chichester products. Beneath the entry for the Heart of London jigsaw is a note "The map of this Heart of London puzzle is on sale separately, folded and in a cover. Price 1/- net."

The unfolded map and the completed jigsaw are identical in design and exactly the same size, 24 x 36 cm. Some copies of the maps were folded and stuck into a cover, others were pasted to cardboard and cut into interlocking shapes before being boxed and a few were sliced into strips to add a little colour to the packaging.

The promotional leaflet issued with the jigsaw

The Heart of London, Chichester Jig-Saw Map Puzzle Leaflet

The leaflet includes details of puzzles No.s 1-5 and an unusual guide on "how to solve" them, which demonstrates Chichester's original aim of fostering the map reading skills of the puzzling public.

Also described are four navigational aids, introduced thus: "The following Chichester productions make interesting presents, particularly for boys.", see my notes below.

As far as I know the Chichester jigsaw of the Heart of London map was never updated or reissued. The folded version of the 1947 map had a longer lasting impact though. Its scope was greatly expanded in the early 1950s and it was renamed and updated with frequent reissues right up until the 1980s, I'll cover some of these later London Chichester Maps and Guides in a companion post.

Notes, on the other known Chichester jigsaws:

No.7 Shakespeare's Country, features miniature paintings by Arthur S. Young, also included a 16 page guide written by C. St. Brelade Seale.

No. 8 Heart of Paris, very similar in style to "Heart of London"

Both No. 7 & No.8 included folded versions of the maps along with the puzzles.

Notes, on the other navigational aids referred to in the leaflet:

The dates of publication for each of these"productions" and some links to images and articles that I have found on each.


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