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Student Showcase Archive

Mary Mcmahon

MA work

MA work

Dissertation: ‘Mapping Blackfriars’: Artisan Networks and Knowledge Transfer in a London Liberty (1550–1631)



  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2010

  • Dissertation: ‘Mapping Blackfriars’: Artisan Networks and Knowledge Transfer in a London Liberty (1550–1631)

    The dissolution of the Dominican Friary of Blackfriars in 1538 created a significant body of newly vacant land within the City of London, the undoubted centre of early modern England’s trade and production circuits. Drawn by the widely held belief that the district fell outside the regulations of the laws of London, this event resulted in the relocation of a number of skilled immigrants and artisans to this corner of the Metropolis. Over time, these individuals created communities of trade and networks of information. But how did these people exchange knowledge and interact within the physical spaces?

    This dissertation utilises the surviving sources to create maps depicting the locations of active artisans within the Blackfriars precinct. Grouped by trade type, the constructed images are used to trace the movement and interactions of these accomplished individuals. Current literature concerning early modern production and consumption is then employed to both interpret and build upon the central image. This research uses the patterns of tools, materials and retail circulation within the area, along with the recycling of artisan space, to inform an understanding of the structures and strictures of the physical environment. This in turn informs the discussion concerning the practical role of information transfer upon design development and circulation. This dissertation looks for the social networks in which early modern artisans lived and worked in order to evidence the realities of design exchange and the transmission of knowledge.

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons), History of Art, University College London, 2008
  • Experience

  • Curatorial internship (Sixteenth Century), National Portrait Gallery, London, 2009/10; Research internship, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2009; Retrieval assistant, National Art Library, London, 2008/9