English Topography and Antiquities
The Schulich-Woolf collection is rich in chronologies, chronicles, early histories, and especially 18th-century and early 19th-century county histories. The antiquarians who wrote these works prided themselves on their research and knowledge of local history. Many of these books include impresssive engraved illustrations.
The history and antiquities of the cathedral church of Canterbury is most notable for its large engravings by James Cole which fill the work. On display is an interior view of the Chapel of the Holy Trinity. There are several other interior views, architectural plans, and details of statuary.
James Cole and John Dart partnered again on Westmonasterium, or, The history and antiquities of the abbey church of St. Peter's, Westminster, published in 1742 after Dart’s death (also in the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection). However, Cole was not limited to architectural drawings. In 1721, Cole became the engraver for the Bank of England and in 1731 took over their printing as well. He also produced a number of portraits including an engraving of George II.
The history of the parishes of Whiteford and Holywell is a comprehensive local history of both parishes in addition to a history of the Pennant family. Whiteford and Holywell are located in Flintshire county, Wales. Pennant opens the work with an account of his own birth at Downing. On display is an engraving of the “Fairy Oak,” an oak tree on the grounds at Downing. The work includes several other beautiful engravings.
Pennant was a prolific author. He published extensively on British zoology. His work by the same name was so successful that he was elected to the Royal Society in 1767. He continued to publish zoological works almost till his death including his other famous work, Arctic Zoology. He also wrote several travel narratives and biographical pieces.
In contrast to the large county histories on display, here is a small pocket history and guide. Heath states in his preface that if printed with larger type his work could certainly “fill a handsome Volume in octavo.” However, in this format Heath felt his work would appeal to people, be they locals or tourists, looking for a pocket guide at a pocket-friendly price. On display are the title page and a lovely fold out illustration of Bristol Hot Wells.
Heath thought his guide not only superior in price, but in content as well. In the second paragraph he critiques Mr. Barrett’s The history and antiquities of the city of Bristol declaring it would have been better without “the Manuscripts, which in course of his Work, he so often ostentated to possess.” Nonetheless, a copy of Barrett’s work is also in the Schulich-Woolf collection.
A topographical, ecclesiastical, and natural history of [Wiltshire] is one section from Thomas Cox’s larger work Magna Britannia et Hibernia. As the title implies, the work contains a multi-faceted history of Wiltshire from topography to noble families who lived in the area. The work was issued with a map and chronological table. On display is an illustration of Stonehenge; it is the only illustration in the book.
Cox’s Magna Britannia is an expansion of William Camden’s Britannia (1607). It was first issued as a supplement to the Atlas geographus (1711-1717) and later published in six volumes (1720-1731). Cox also contributed to White Kennett’s A complete history of England: with the lives of all the kings and queens thereof … to … William III (3 vols., 1706).
Richard Fenton was a topographical writer and antiquarian particularly interested in the history of Wales. He had a career as a barrister in Wales which provided him opportunity to travel and pursue his scholarly interests. On display is a portrait of Fenton and the adjacent title page of A historical tour through Pembrokeshire.
Fenton hoped to produce a history of each county in Wales, but only succeeded in publishing his history of Pembrokeshire. This volume includes numerous illustrations of churches, historic sites, artifacts, and other antiquities.
Stebbing Shaw’s The history and antiquities of Staffordshire is the first attempt at a comprehensive history of Staffordshire, compiling a variety of sources. It is heavily illustrated with engravings of estates, churches, portraits, and maps, including a large linen-backed map at the front of the work. On display is a page of these fine engravings including the southwest view of Aldridge Church, a detail of the monument of Robert Stapleton, and a view of the Old House at Bar.
Shaw was a historian and later rector of Hartshorne. He was meticulous about his research and fascinated by topography. He was elected as a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1795. Apart from his book on Staffordshire, Shaw also assisted with cataloguing the Harleian Collection at the British Museum.