The ten rare maps which plot the defeat of the Spanish Armada, have been saved from being exported to the US after the National Museum of the Royal Navy raised £600,000 to buy them.
The great fleet sent by King Philip II of Spain in 1588 to invade England in conjunction with a Spanish army from Flanders. England’s attempts to repel this fleet involved the first naval battles to be fought entirely with heavy guns, and the defeat inflicted on Spain’s enterprise saved England and the Netherlands from possible absorption into the Spanish empire.
The ten “incredibly rare” maps plot the defeat of the Spanish Armada and were due to be sold by the Astor family to an unknown America buyer, until the culture minister Caroline Dinenage stepped in and imposed a three month export ban last year.
The ban was placed in the hope a UK gallery or institution might acquire the maps, which the Royal Navy museum succeeded in doing. With one third of the funding coming from each of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, the rest was generously made up by 400 individual donors. The maps, which have not left the United Kingdom since they were first drawn in the 16th century, will go on display at locations to be determined.
Ms Dinenage said the export bar system exists “so we can keep nationally important works in the country and I am delighted that, thanks to the tireless work of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Armada Maps will now go on display to educate and inspire future generations”.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy said he was “incredibly proud that we have made sure that the Armada Maps have been saved for generations to come”.