The Power House exhibition showcases the roles of major organisations which provided the bedrock of England’s power throughout the centuries, who worked within the Tower walls; this included Ordnance Survey.
The exhibition offers the opportunity to discover the stories and personalities behind the major organisations of state, who took care of Royal business behind the mighty Tower walls, from 1100 to the present day. The Board of Ordnance established a Drawing Office at the Tower of London in 1716, which was used by Ordnance Survey when it was formed in 1791. The map makers remained in residence until a fire in 1841 forced a move to Southampton, where they remain today.
A three metre high dragon – specially commissioned by the Royal Armouries – greets visitors to the exhibition in the White Tower. The dragon is made from components representing the organisations in the exhibition, which includes the Royal Mint, the Jewel House and the Record Office, amongst others. Ordnance Survey is represented through the use of maps on the dragon’s wings.
Visitors will be able to read about Ordnance Survey’s history at the Tower as well as see a copy of the first map produced by Ordnance Survey. The Map of Kent was completed at the Tower in 1801 at the scale of one inch to one mile. The area of Kent was covered first due to the impending threat of invasion across the channel from France.
Vanessa Lawrence CB, Ordnance Survey’s Director General and CEO, said, “We are delighted to be involved in this wonderful exhibition at the Tower of London. This offers visitors a chance to see how Ordnance Survey began and celebrates our history until our move to Southampton in 1841.”
The Power House exhibition will put the spotlight on other Tower of London functions, ranging from royal residence to state prison. Power House will also include interactive opportunities from the Royal Armouries’ popular Hands on History experience.
Royal Armouries’ Head of Creative Programmes, Karen Whitting said, “The Tower has been home to many important national institutions for over 900 years and was viewed as a fortress and symbol of England’s might.
“Close to the seat of Royal power at Westminster, the Tower became England’s ultimate Power House – and the functions it housed were vital to whether successive monarchs kept or lost control of the kingdom.”
The exhibition is open now and more information is available on the Royal Armouries website http://www.royalarmouries.org/visit-us/tower-of-london/power-house