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

4 October 2012

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a rare leather bound volume filled with estate maps of Hampton Court in Herefordshire, which is thought to provide the earliest surviving depiction of a significant part of the county. 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

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Notes to Editors

  1. Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the atlas should contact:

    The Secretary
    The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest
    Arts Council England
    Great Peter Street
    SW1P 3NQ

    Tel: 0845 300 6200

  2. Anyone interested in making a matching offer and who requires further information about the atlas from the Champion should contact The Secretary to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest at the above address.

  3. For enquiries on the operation of and casework arising from the work of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) please contact the Enquiries team on or 0845 300 6200

  4. The details of the atlas are:

    Atlas of estate maps of Hampton Court, Herefordshire
    Atlas measures 55 x 44cm when closed, made of paper and vellum, consisting of 15 estate maps and 48 pages of reference tables relating to Hampton Court estate, Herefordshire, 1698-1719; 1772-4


    Surveys and maps commissioned by Thomas, Earl of Coningsby and his younger daughter , Lady Frances Coningsby  1698-1774; Hampton Court archives; Sold by Viscount Hereford ; Phillips, Son & Neale Auctioneers 1972; Sabin Gallery; by descent to present owner.

  5. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by Arts Council England, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria. Where the Committee finds that an object meets one or more of the criteria, it will normally recommend that the decision on the export licence application should be deferred for a specified period. An offer may then be made from within the United Kingdom at or above the fair market price.

  6. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

Press Enquiries: 020 7211 2210
Out of hours telephone pager no: 07699 751153
Public Enquiries: 020 7211 6000

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