A rare volume of maps which depict the county’s Hampton Court estate during the 17th and 18th centuries is returning to Herefordshire.
Herefordshire Council’s archive service will be displaying the recently acquired treasure at Hampton Court Castle on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September, during an exciting event which marks a significant period in the castle’s history.
The 15 parchment and paper maps, which date from 1698 to 1773, were commissioned by Thomas Coningsby, 1st Earl of Coningsby (1657 - 1729) and show the full extent of the politician’s Herefordshire estates in intricate detail. The two earliest maps in the volume are beautifully coloured and depict a typical English country house with formal gardens, along with delightfully energetic drawings of horsemen in hot pursuit of deer.
The volume was initially sold to an overseas institution; however the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries imposed an export licence ban on the sale in light of the item’s great historical value. The council’s archive service purchased the volume with support from the Friends of the National Libraries, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s purchase grant fund and the Friends of Herefordshire Record Office.
Rhys Griffith, Herefordshire Council’s senior archivist, said: “We are delighted to be able to exhibit this incredibly special volume at the exact location where it was first treasured so long ago. It’s a fabulous source of information for local historians and also shows how a leading politician of the late seventeenth century promoted his landed wealth in order to advance his political career. It is also a beautifully executed piece of work.”
The event will also feature a number of other archives from a collection which tells the story of the Coningsby family, who occupied Hampton Court Castle for three centuries from 1510.
To find out more about the county’s archives, please visit: www.herefordshire.gov.uk/archives.