John Speed was born the son of a tailor in 1552. Around 1610 he created a map of Hertfordshire, including an inset showing the county town of Hertford. It is the only known map to show Hertford Castle still standing.
A.Cowe Bridge B.Old Cross C.St.Andrews D.The Mill E.St.Nicolas G.St.Maries
H.Honey Lane K.Back Street L.Highe Street M.Alhallowes N.Castle Street P.West Street
The map shows the town as it would have been in the early 17th century, shortly before the castle was demolished. Elizabeth I had died seven years earlier and James I had become king. Samuel Stone, who was born in Fore Street, was just 8 years old. He would go on to sail to America and establish Hartford, Connecticut.
The town's two ancient churches of St.Mary's (G) and St.Nicholas (E) had either been demolished or were derelict by this time. Recovered remnants of St.Mary's can be found outside the former Library in Old Cross, whilst the font of St.Nicholas's is now in Tonwell Church.
The town was run by a corporation made up of mayor, burgesses and commonalty, following a royal charter in 1605.
Market trading was conducted every Saturday in Market Place, where Shire Hall now stands.
A number of buildings from this time can still be found around the town, especially in Old Cross and St.Andrew Street.
These include 6-8 Old Cross, which is now home to Leaf Cafe and Galos. These buildings can be seen in Speed's Map.
The former Old Cross Post Office on the south side of St.Andrew Street will also have been present when the map was created, although at that time it would not have served that purpose.
Castle Street can be seen to the south of the castle, with inner and outer moats still in evidence. The south side of the street is well populated with buildings, some of which can still be seen today.
The timber framed Castle Moat House had only recently been built when Speed's Map was created. It is possibly 1 of 3 houses 'without the walls' referred to in a survey dated 1609-10. The buildings has since been altered and extended.
On the very left of the map you can see where St.Andrew Street splits in to two roads, one to Watton and the other to Hertingfordbury.
This article was last updated on 8th January 2021.