Underhill’s Maps is a small Oxford-based company dedicated to creating maps that are both decorative and useful. Their traditional hand-drawn, folding maps aim to capture the spirit and history of the landscape as well as providing a guide to the principal sights along a particular route.
The business was launched in 2012 by neighbours and map enthusiasts Francesca Shakespeare, William Underhill and Nicholas Hardyman. A first map, Underhill’s Punting Map of The Thames and Cherwell, was published in Spring 2013.
William Underhill is a freelance journalist living in Oxford. After studying at Oxford University, he worked for a wide range of newspapers and magazines. He is now employed part-time as an editor for The Week. A lifelong map enthusiast, he published an illustrated guide of the Thames waterfront in London in 2000. His enthusiasm for punting and the Thames dates from his childhood when his father kept a punt on the river at Hampton Court, near the family home.
Francesca Shakespeare is an Oxford artist with a wide portfolio of interests. She has lived within a few miles of the Thames for most of her life but this is her first local project. She runs workshops for children and adults in various locations including the Ashmolean Museum, and has led several publicly-funded community art projects. Passionate about painting in the open air and from life, she has spent many hours working on the riverbank or mid-stream in a punt to create the punting map. Her speciality is creating rich, textured figurative paintings using ancient techniques such as fresco and egg tempera.
Nicholas Hardyman has a background in fine art publishing and printing, and currently runs his own publishing house in Oxford. He is devoted to both maps and punting. At one point he went to the lengths of designing and building his own punt which he used on the Cherwell.