Planned as a military survey: 40 highly detailed watercolors of the Channel Islands for the defense of Great Britain

King's Survey of the Channel Islands

King's Survey of the Channel Islands

King's Survey of the Channel Islands

  1. King Charles II (1630-85) commissioned a survey of the Channel Islands in 1679 for the sake of Britain’s defensive plans

  2. The informative text of the manuscript is accompanied by forty splendidly detailed and artful watercolors

  3. The project was led by Admiral George Legge (ca. 1647-91) and required surveyors, engineers, and artists

King's Survey of the Channel Islands

King's Survey of the Channel Islands – King's MS 48 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

This 17th century manuscript far exceeds the expectations of a typical military survey and instead contains, in addition to its detailed information on the Channel Islands, forty splendid watercolors depicting the islands and their approaches, often from a bird’s eye view, as well as detailing their forts and harbors. The survey was commissioned in 1679 by King Charles II (1630-85) and conducted under the direction of Admiral George Legge (ca. 1647-91), 1st Baron of Dartmouth, which is why the survey is often referred to as the Legge Report. Presented to the King in 1680, the work is illustrated by Thomas Philips (d. 1693), a British military engineer and artist and was contributed to by Sir Bernard de Gomme (1620-1685), a prominent Dutch military engineer.

King's Survey of the Channel Islands

Fear of an invasion from the European continent was a very real concern throughout British history. As far back as the Romans and as recently as the Second World War, the British people have had to face this dire prospect. The Channel Islands long represented an important part of Britain’s defenses along the coast where it comes closest to the European mainland. As such, King Charles II (1630-85) commissioned a survey of the Channel Islands in 1679, known as the Legge Report, a copy of which was presented to the King a year later. The team of surveyors was led by the distinguished Admiral George Legge (ca. 1647-91), 1st Baron of Dartmouth, and included Sir Bernard de Gomme (1620-1685), a Dutch military engineer and one of the leading experts of his day, and Thomas Philips (d. 1693), a British military engineer and artist. Charles instructed them to make "a consultation of all the ablest pilots of Normandy and Brittany to know what ports the King of France might make useful to his fleet" so that the Royal Navy might be able to intercept the coming attack. The result is a beautiful synthesis of art and science as the informative text of the manuscript is accompanied by forty splendidly detailed and artful watercolors depicting the islands.

A Military Survey Worthy of a King

This all-star team of military minds produced an outstanding document that far exceeds the quality of a normal military survey. Its text gives the kind of information on the various localities that one would expect: the various ecclesiastical, legal, and civil administrative bodies of the islands are detailed, as are Royal Charters, the Papal Bull of 1480, Crown Officers’ roles, and standing orders for the garrisons. However, the watercolors present images of the islands worthy of the magnificence of the royal court of King Charles II. They depict the islands themselves and their approaches, often depicted from a bird’s eye view, as well as detailing various harbors and forts. In total, Philips created forty watercolors measuring 53 x 38 cm, which fold out two twice their size or more. Three copies of the manuscript exist: the original is housed in the National Maritime Museum in London, the King’s copy in the British Library, and a third at the Royal Court of Guernsey.

4 available facsimile edition(s) of „King's Survey of the Channel Islands“

King's Survey of the Channel Islands - The Pilots Version
King's Survey of the Channel Islands – King's MS 48 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
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King's Survey of the Channel Islands - The Pilots Version

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
The Clear Vue Publishing Partnership Limited – Saint Peter Port, 2011
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €
Edition available
Price: Login here!
King's Survey of the Channel Islands - The Jersey Version
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King's Survey of the Channel Islands - The Jersey Version

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
The Clear Vue Publishing Partnership Limited – Saint Peter Port, 2011
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
King's Survey of the Channel Islands - The Guernsey Version
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King's Survey of the Channel Islands - The Guernsey Version

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
The Clear Vue Publishing Partnership Limited – Saint Peter Port, 2011
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
King's Survey of the Channel Islands - The Fortress Version
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King's Survey of the Channel Islands - The Fortress Version

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
The Clear Vue Publishing Partnership Limited – Saint Peter Port, 2011
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Publisher