The Wyngaerde Panorama of London (1543)

The Wyngaerde Panorama of London, also known as the “Panorama of London from the Tower of London,” is a significant early map that offers a unique view of London during the Tudor period. Created by the Flemish artist Anton van den Wyngaerde in 1543, this panoramic drawing provides the earliest visual record of the city’s urban landscape, architecture, and riverfront during a the Tudor period. It measures approximately 3.7 meters by 0.5 meters.  It is not a traditional map but rather a visual depiction of London’s urban landscape from an elevated viewpoint, likely sketched from the high vantage point in Southwark on  the south bank of the Thames.

Anton van den Wyngaerde (1525-1571) was a prolific Flemish topographical artist who made panoramic sketches and paintings of towns in the Netherlands, France, England, Italy, and Spain. He is best known for many panoramas of cities in Spain, drawn while he was employed by Philip II. After his death, his works were dispersed into different collections and their importance neglected. Their historical and artistic value was not recognised until C19th.

We can deduce the date that the panorama was published from some of the details on the map. The chapel on London Bridge is dedicated to St Thomas Apostle, but we know that before 1540 it was dedicated to Thomas a Becket. So the panorama must date after 1540. On the other hand, in 1545 the steeple of Blackfriars church and was pulled down, so the publication date must be before this.  

There are a number of inaccuracies in the panorama, and while a lot of important buildings can be identified with confidence many others, particularly the churches, cannot. The drawing lacks topographical precision. The area around Smithfield and Greyfriars Church is distorted, it looks like St Michael Crooked Lane has been drawn twice and St Mary Le Bow is missing its distinctive steeple. But despite these errors, the panorama remains a key historical source, and offers the last glimpse of the mediaeval city as it stood before the Reformation, which resulted in the disappearance of so many of its principal religious monuments. 

Wyngaerde Panorama1543
Wyngaerde Panorama1543