<< YCBA Home Yale Center for British Art Yale Center for British Art << YCBA Home

YCBA Collections Search

IIIF Actions
Basil, Simon, -1615

Survey of Hertford Castle.

Hertford, England, 1608.
Physical Description:
1 volume (3 leaves) : on parchment ; 38 x 28 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
DA690.H57 B37 1608+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
View by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.

Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Hertford Castle was used as an occasional royal residence from 1174 until the reign of Elizabeth I, by which time it had been considerably reduced in size. In 1630, the castle was granted to William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Salisbury. It would remain with the Salisbury heirs until the 20th century, when it was given to the town of Hertford. Only framents of the stronghold remain, including the mout, postern gate, octagonal tower, and late-15th-century gatehouse.
Simon Basil was Surveyor of the King's Works from 1606 to 1615, succeeding Sir David Cuningham in the position. See: Colvin, H. A biographical dictionary of British architects, 1600-1840.
Text on the front cover and leaf 1 (verso) is in Latin. Text on leaf 2 is in English.
Purchased by Paul Mellon in 1966. Hertford Castle was the childhood residence of Mellon's mother, Nora (née McMullen), whose family rented the home from the Marquess of Salisbury. See: Mellon, P. Reflections in a silver spoon; Cannadine, D. Mellon: an American life.
Longstaffe-Gowan, T. "Mapping out a national style." In Apollo, April 2007, p. 54
Of green leaf, bird, and flower: artists' books and the natural world, p. 184
Survey of the grounds of Hertford Castle and surrounding areas, by Simon Basil and Thomas Marshall, 1608. The plan of the area is drawn in pen and ink with watercolor and gouache, on the recto of leaf 3. It is oriented with east (Oriens) at the top of the page. The castle and castle yard are depicted at center. To the east are buildings of Hertford; to the south, tilled fields; to the west, what may be a series of orchards; and to the north, "Castle Meadows." All Saints' Church, St. Andrews, and the town mill on the River Lea (the course of which has changed) are easily recognizable.
Measured estate plans of this kind had first appeared in England in the 1570s and 1580s and were not uncommon in the early seventeenth century. Although more ornate and beautifully colored than others of the period, this example is typical in that it shows the built features of the landscape not in plan or to scale, but in a notional arrangement and in flattened profile. Pictorial image of this sort would continue to be used for maps as well as for large building works well into the seventeenth century.
Leaf 2 verso: "Com. Hertford ... Survey thereof taken by [S] Basyll, Surveior of His Majesties Buildings, and Thomas M[arshall] Esquires ... by command of the Right honorable Robert Earl of Salsburie, Lord High Thre[asurer] of England ..." There follows a list of the materials, enumerating quantities of bricks, timber, lead (?), stones, tiles, glass, etc.
Subject Terms:
Castles -- England -- Hertfordshire.
Hertford (England) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
Hertford (England) -- History -- Sources.
Hertford (England) -- Maps.
Hertford (England) -- Surveys.
Hertford Castle.
Land surveys -- England -- Hertford.
Maps -- England -- Hertford.
Ink drawings.
Marshall, Thomas, active 1608, surveyor.
IIIF Manifest:

"Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower" : Artists' Books and the Natural World (Yale Center for British Art, May 15, 2014-August 10, 2014) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

If you have information about this object that may be of assistance please contact us.