The Admiralty Map

Hanging on the wall of my home at Downe is an old map.

My father, who has been dead for over thirty years, gave me this map early in my marriage. He had brought it at a house clearance sale as part of a job lot of books and paper decades before he gave the map to me.

The map is a dull beige without much vital imagery (I imagined a bored cartographer filling in details in a dark and smoky tent) and shortly after receiving it I popped in up in the attic with some old books.

Several houses and attics later we purchased Downe.

As we were clearing the attic of our former home some six months after buying Downe, I came across the map rolled up in box of books. I remember pulling the map out of the cardboard box and unrolling it up in the attic and thinking to myself as I did so “It’s a pity the map isn’t of Hartland.”

I also remember the hairs on the back of my neck lifting and my shoulders going cold as I saw in front of me an Admiralty Map published in 1882 of the coast line between Trevose Head and Bull Point i.e. the North Devon and North Cornwall coast line.

Hartland Point is near the middle of the map and is highlighted because of the Light House. And Hartland Point is where Downe is.

It was a very odd moment and the questions came quickly. “How did Dad get the map?”

“Why did he give the map to me?” (I’m one of six children so why me?)
As my teenage daughters used to say, “Spooooky!”

Anyway, that’s why there is a pretty dull vellum map hanging framed in our drawing room.

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