News story

Culture Minister defers export of an atlas of maps and reference tables of Hampton Court in Herefordshire

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a rare leather bound volume filled with estate maps of Hampton Court

This is thought to provide the earliest surviving depiction of a significant part of the county of Herefordshire. The export bar will provide a last chance to raise the money to keep the atlas in the United Kingdom. 

The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by Arts Council England. The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the atlas was of outstanding significance for the study of the history of cartography, the history of Herefordshire, and the relationship between power and land in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The leather bound atlas consists of 15 estate maps and 48 pages of reference tables spanning over 70 years of the life of Hampton Court estate from the 1690s to the 1770s.

It is an outstanding example of the type of lavish estate atlas that was commissioned by great English landowners in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, of which very few have survived. The majority of the estate maps in the atlas were commissioned from leading London and local surveyors by Thomas Coningsby, 1st Earl Coningsby (1657-1729) and provide a record of how Coningsby chose to advertise his landed wealth in order to advance his political career. The maps therefore bear testimony to the actual and perceived importance of land as a source of power and influence in England at the time.

Christopher Wright, Reviewing Committee member, said:

“This exceptional atlas contains a wealth of detailed information that adds to and develops our knowledge of Herefordshire as a county. It provides a fascinating insight into the history of land in English history - in particular the ways land was used in the 17th and 18th centuries as a political tool to gain power and influence.”

The decision on the export licence application for the atlas will be deferred for a period ending on 3 December 2012 inclusive. This period may be extended until 3 February 2013 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds is expressed with a view to making an offer to purchase the atlas at the recommended price of £5000.

For media information contact:

Sam Gough, Media Relations Officer, Arts Council England
Tel: 020 7973 5189 or 07872 416679