Control over mapping Britain was important to the king and government for protecting the country against rebellions and invasions. The Ordnance Survey was developed from the Ordnance Drawing Room at the Tower of London in the early 18th century. It was a natural progression from surveying and plan-drawing to map-making.
Ordnance engineers had a long tradition of surveying the landscape and designing fortifications. In 1716 a Drawing Room on the east side of the White Tower was fitted out to allow plans and maps to be drawn. In 1791 the Ordnance Survey became a distinct branch of the Board of Ordnance under the direction of the Master-General of the Ordnance.
Drawing Room staff, supervised by Superintendents of the Survey William Mudge and later Thomas Colby, began to map England and Wales. After the Grand Storehouse fire in 1841 the Ordnance Survey became a separate government department and moved to Southampton.
Ordnance Survey – Mapping Britain
Where is it now?
Ordnance Survey is still at Southampton
1841 Act of Parliament established Ordnance Survey as a separate government department
1798 William Mudge appointed Superintendent of Ordnance Survey under authority of Master General of Ordnance
1765 William Roy appointed as surveyor general of the coasts and engineer for making and directing military surveys in Great Britain. Advocated national mapping survey
1716 Board of Ordnance established a Drawing Office at Tower of London
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