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  • Author: CLEGG, Ernest
  • Publisher: Countryman Ltd
  • Engraver: John Waddington Ltd, Leeds
  • Date: 1945
  • Dimensions: Sheet: 57 x 44.5 cms


Map of the County of Kent [1945], one of the first in a sadly incomplete post-war series designed by cartographer Ernest Clegg

About this piece:


Printed colour. Wide margins. Fine condition.

April 1945 edition of this this highly decorative county map of Kent, one of the earliest to be printed in this 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). He first emigrated to the US before World War One. At the outbreak of war he returned home to take an officer’s commission with the Bedfordshire Regiment in late 1914 and saw action on the Western Front, where he was badly wounded in a German artillery bombardment on the Somme in June 1916. After recovery & demobilisation, he returned to the United States in 1919, pursuing an increasingly successful career as 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 once again, in late 1944. He briefly settled in Bournemouth, where he set up an artist & map-making studio in the final months of the war. In 1945, following the advent of peace, 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 economy sought to encourage post-war tourist spending & inflows of much-needed hard currency, not least the dollars of former wartime GIs & equally affluent fellow Americans 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 1946 Honours list.

On the map itself, Clegg highlights the different areas of agricultural production throughout Kent, the so-called Garden of England, with its special focus on apple orchards & hops. He further notes that on British farms between 1939 & 1944 the area under the plough increased from nearly 13 million acres to over 19.4 million and that the output of food increased by 70%. Little precise data or detail is given of the wartime contribution of Kent’s farms and agriculture to this expansion in production and food output.

One attractive pictorial vignette upper right depicts Canterbury Cathedral.

Particular focus is given to Kent’s important role in World War Two. Whilst mention is given to the role played by Kent’s “Little Ships” and the South East Railwaymen in the Dunkirk evacuation in May-June 1940, much focus is given to the important part the county and her airfields played in the Battle of Britain, 1940-41. This is further emphasized with an extract from Winston Churchill’s famous tribute to the “Few” – the undaunted airmen of the RAF – in his “Never in the field of human conflict” speech, originally addressed to the House of Commons on 20th August 1940 at the height of the Battle of Britain.

The speech took place at the beginning of the main German Luftwaffe assault on South East England – the so-called Adlerangriff  (Eagle attack) – which witnessed intensive bombing of RAF airfields in Kent & the South East followed, after August 19th, heavy night-time bombing of ports and industrial cities, including the London suburbs.

The map is in fact dedicated to Churchill himself, whose country residence Chartwell, was of course located near Sevenoaks in Kent and who also, as Prime Minister, held the official title of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports (New Romney, Hythe, Dover, Sandwich & Hastings) and Elder Brother of Trinity House.

Further decorative embellishments include a fine compass spur in the English Channel and numerous coats of arms.

The decoration is completed by a surrounding line border interspersed with royal & military coats of arms, exemplifying the beautifully polished & refined design style that characterizes Clegg’s maps.

Refs: Women’s Land Army