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A Map shewing the Hills, Villages, Churches and the Houses of the Great & Good within some Seven Miles north & norwest of Thame Oxon – 1925

  • Author: Spencer Hoffman, George
  • Publisher: John Fothergill
  • Engraver: Emery Walker
  • Date: 1925
  • Dimensions: sheet: 45.5 x 36 cms


Exceedingly rare 1925 pictorial map of the environs of Thame in Oxfordshire designed by George Spencer Hoffman for John Fothergill, renowned proprietor of the Spreadeagle Hotel

About this piece:

Cover title: A Map shewing the Hills: Villages: Churches: and the Houses of the Great & Good within some Seven Miles north and norwest of Thame Oxon

Map Title: A Map shewing the Hills: Villages: Churches: and the Houses of the Great and Good within some Seven Miles north and nor’west of Thame


(top left): Designed & drawn by Spencer Hoffman Architect ++ Printed by Emery Walker Jan 1925

(top right): Published by John Fothergill The Spreadeagle. Thame ++Oxon.

Folding black & white map, 45.5 x 36 cms. Card covers (13 x 20 cms), with title and price (18 pence) printed on front. Map loose in covers. In excellent overall condition. Light soiling and dusting to sheet verso. More noticeable paper stain in lower right corner in blank margins only, not affecting printed image.

Extremely rare, stunningly designed pictorial map of the surroundings of the village of Thame in Oxfordshire, commissioned in 1924-25 by John Fothergill [1876-1957], renowned owner of the town’s principal hotel, The Spreadeagle from his friend, the London-based architect & cartographer, George Spencer Hoffman [1875-1950]. John Forthegill was a 1920s mix of celebrity chef and put-upon host-cum-innkeeper, an eccentric Oxford-educated artist and aesthete who had counted Oscar Wilde amongst his friends during his younger days. He eventually fell into innkeeping in the early 1920s, acquiring The Spreadeagle in 1922 and turning it into one of the go-to destinations for the glitterati of the time. For the next decade it drew prominent academics, intellectuals, writers, film & theatre stars, artists, politicians and the leading lights of British high society to experience the gastronomic charms of the much-vaunted cuisine and the somewhat exclusive “clubby” atmosphere that Fothergill sought to create & foster.

As well as drawing this map for Fothergill, Spencer Hoffman also assisted with the lettering for The Spreadeagle‘s new signpost, which was finally erected as a free-standing structure directly outside the Hotel in 1926. Designed by Fothergill, the sign, featuring a symbolic open-winged eagle on both sides, had been painted by the Bloomsbury-set artist, Dora Carrington [1893-1932].

The map depicts the local environs of Thame to the north and north west of the town, which is shown in the lower foreground. It extends as far as the Buckinghamshire villages of Dorton, Brill, Ludgershall, Wootton Underwood and Waddesdon (including the seat of the Rothschilds, Waddesdon Manor). In closer vicinity are the villages of Chilton, Easington, Long Crendon, Chearsley, Haddenham and Cuddington. Charming vignettes depict local life, including the local hunt pursuing a fox and pastoral farming scenes.

Included are a detailed numbered key to the principal landmarks and historic buildings of the area (lower left) and a fine roundel inset of The Spreadeagle (lower right).

The map is also somewhat cryptically annotated. Just to the right of the inset of The Spreadeagle is the inscription: “Given by JF to KHF” – a reference to Fothergill’s second wife, Kate Headley Forthergill (née Kirby), whom her had married in London in 1922.  The two young cherubs who support the scrollwork banner title along the bottom of the map are also clearly referenced with the initials, “JMF” and “RACF” respectively, these obviously being Fothergill’s two young sons, John Michael Fothergill [1919-2009] and Rowland Anthony Crawshay Fothergill [1923-1998].

The map also bears the distinction of having been engraved and printed by the renowned private press publisher and engraver, Emery Walker [1851-1933].

Because of its private publication and ephemeral nature, the map is now exceedingly scarce. We have not been able to locate any other original examples offered on the market in the last decade. OCLC records just two institutional examples in the National Library of Scotland and the University of California, Davis.

For more information on the mapmaker, George Spencer Hoffman, and his work, read our latest blog post:

George Spencer Hoffman [1875-1950]: a forgotten genius of pictorial mapping