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  • Author: CLEGG, Ernest
  • Publisher: Countryman Ltd
  • Engraver: John Waddington Ltd, Leeds
  • Date: 1947
  • Dimensions: Sheet: 44 x 57.5 cms

Description:

Decorative map of Cambridgeshire [1947], one of a sadly incomplete post-war series by Anglo-American cartographer, Ernest Clegg

About this piece:

Cambridgeshire

Printed colour. Wide margins. Overall fine condition.

The 1947 edition of this charming & decorative county map of Cambridgeshire, one of a sadly incomplete series of post-war English County & regional maps designed and created by the well-known Anglo-American calligrapher and cartographer, Ernest Clegg [1876-1954].

Originally born in Birmingham in 1876 and a graduate of the City’s famous School of Art, Clegg had seen military service in the British Army in both the Boer and First World Wars (see our blog posts). Returning to the United States after World War One, he pursued a successful career as a graphic artist, calligrapher and cartographer in New York during the 1920’s and 1930’s. During the Second World War, supposedly following the personal intervention of Lord Halifax, the then British Ambassador in Washington, the ever-patriotic Clegg returned to England in late 1944 and settled in Bournemouth, where he briefly set up an artist & map-making studio. Soon after the end of the war, he & his wife relocated to the London suburbs.

It was in early 1945 that the so-called Countryman County Map Series was first mooted. Endorsed & copyrighted by the Countryman Magazine and printed by the Leeds games publishers, John Waddington Ltd (of Monopoly fame), all of the maps were designed & drawn by Clegg in collaboration with Donald McCullough [1901-1978], a well-known writer & broadcaster and perhaps most famous as the chairman & compère of the BBC’s immensely popular wartime radio programme, The Brains Trust. From 1947 onwards, an edition for overseas markets was also produced under the auspices of the British Travel Association, as Britain’s heavily indebted & ravaged post-war economy sought to encourage new tourist spending & the influx of much-needed hard currency, not least from the pockets of former wartime GIs & affluent new visitors from across the Atlantic.

The principal aim of the maps was in fact to raise money for the Women’s Land Army Benevolent Fund, originally launched in July 1942 under the auspices of the WLA’s Honorary Director, Lady Gertrude Denman. By 1944 some 80,000 Land Girls had been seconded into the farming sector in order to sustain & support Britain’s wartime food & agricultural production on the Home Front. The Benevolent Fund’s “original function was to help volunteers who met with illness or accident, and who were not covered by other forms of help, and to assist with grants or loans for those women intending to remain on the land after the war ended” (Twinch). Fund raising activities continued around the country throughout the wartime period, with local areas and Land Girl hostels often competing against one another to raise the most funds. In 1944, the author, Vita Sackville-West offered all the profits & royalties from her book “The Women’s Land Army” to the Benevolent Fund. Commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, Sackville-West’s book was the first attempt to focus public attention on the WLA’s relatively little-known efforts in both World Wars and to celebrate their organisation, efforts & impact in saving Britain from starvation. Most interestingly perhaps the final chapter of the book envisioned the potential career paths & contributions that its members might make in the peaceful post-war world. In 1945, the British Government provided additional funding to the Fund totalling some £170,000. By 1944, the Benevolent Fund’s services included a WLA Club in London and a Homecraft Training Centre (offering residential courses for retraining &/or for those about to leave the WLA & get married). Special treatments for rheumatic complaints (arising from wartime agricultural work) were also offered, and from 1945, a dedicated Convalescent home & two Rest homes were provided for former wartime workers in Torquay & Llandudno. The Women’s Land Army was finally disbanded on 30th November 1950. At a farewell parade at Buckingham Palace on 21st October 1950, Queen Elizabeth observed that the Land Girls “had obeyed the call of duty in the nation’s hour of great peril and need, and the nation owed them an everlasting debt.”   

Clegg would be honoured for his important work both as cartographer and supporter of the WLA’s Benevolent Fund with the award of an M.B.E in the 1947 New Year’s Honours list.

On the map itself, Clegg highlights the areas of agricultural production throughout Cambridgeshire, mainly arable farming with wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, sugar beet and root vegetables to the fore. He further notes that on British farms between 1939 & 1944 the area under the plough increased from nearly 13 million acres to over 19.2 million (19.4 million per several of the other maps) and that the output of food increased by 70%. Moreover in Cambridgeshire, 87% of the land was arable and of this 95,800 acres grew potatoes & sugar beet – priority crops. In the Isle of Ely, over double the acreage requested by the Ministry of Agriculture was brought under plough and the WLA provided outstanding service in tackling wartime drainage problems in the Fenlands. A further note indicates that the Women’s Institutes of Cambridgeshire produced over 100 tons of jam during the war years!

Attractive pictorial vignettes depict two of the county’s most notable historic buildings, King’s College Chapel in Cambridge and Ely Cathedral.

 In common with most of these maps, Clegg includes a quotation from one of Winston Churchill’s wartime speeches, here an extract from a BBC broadcast from London on Bastille Day, July 14th 1940, shortly after the first German aerial attacks that marked the beginning of the Battle of Britain:

But all depends now upon the whole life-strength of the British race in every part of the world and of all our associated peoples and of all our well-wishers in every land, doing their utmost night and day, giving all, daring all, enduring all-to the utmost-to the end. This is no war of chieftains or of princes, of dynasties or national ambition; it is a war of peoples and of causes. There are vast numbers, not only in this Island but in every land, who will render faithful service in this war, but whose names will never be known, whose deeds will never be recorded. This is a War of the Unknown Warriors; but let all strive without failing in faith or in duty, and the dark curse of Hitler will be lifted from our age.

Further annotations highlight important figures and personalities associated with the county, including John Harvard, the founder of Harvard University; Sir Ernest Rutherford of the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge (whence the discoveries of the Atom bomb emanated); and First World War soldier & poet, Rupert Brooke, forever associated with the village of Grantchester.

In keeping with many of the other maps in this series, Clegg also references the county’s important connections with the events of World War Two, including the profusion of American airbases and hospitals and the little-known top secret D-Day rehearsal that took place at the Union Society in Cambridge in March 1944 in the presence of both Eisenhower & Montgomery using scale models of the Mulberry Harbours, Landing craft & Guard ships.

The map is dedicated to the South African general & statesman, Jan Smuts [1870-1950], who is also profiled in a potted biography. Smuts had initially trained as a lawyer before being drawn into politics. He fought against the British in the Second Boer War [1899-1902] and entered the South African Parliament in 1907, subsequently serving two terms as the country’s Prime Minister. He played a pivotal role at the post-war Paris Peace Conference and in the establishment of the League of Nations. He had originally studied Law at Christ’s College Cambridge, having been admitted in 1891, elected a scholar in 1892 and graduated in 1894. In fact, Smuts’ links with Cambridge was further cemented just  a year after the publication of this map, following his defeat in South African elections, when he was elected Chancellor of Cambridge University, a post which he held until his death two years later.

The decoration is completed by a surrounding line border interspersed with royal & military coats of arms, the finishing touches to a map which admirably demonstrates Clegg’s beautifully polished & refined design style.

Refs: Women’s Land Army