Extraordinary Editions

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In 1679 King Charles II ordered a survey of the Channel Islands and their defences, harbours and forts. He was concerned that there should be “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”.

George Legge, later Earl of Dartmouth, and his fellow engineer Sir Bernard de Gomme set off from Portsmouth, taking with them the artist, cartographer and military engineer, Thomas Phillips. The lavishly illustrated work he created for the king became known in the Channel Islands as The Legge Report.

The book, part report and part pictorial atlas, contains numerous carefully crafted watercolours of the Channel Islands, their approaches, forts and harbours, executed by Phillips as he sailed between the islands.

Thomas Phillips was hugely ambitious and this was a great opportunity to impress the King. He transformed what should have been a standard military survey into a stunning manuscript, ideally suited to the theatricality and flamboyance of Charles’ court. His use of colour washes, his eye for detail and his extraordinary birds eye views make this the most beautiful of all Channel Island books.

Thomas Phillips' originals are kept safe in the library at the National Maritime Museum and we are extremely grateful to the library for allowing us to reproduce them, making our edition the definitive collection of this hugely under sung artist.

the bay of St Helier from of the King's Survey of the Channel Islands