Rare Herefordshire maps return to earl's original castle
A rare volume of maps which depict the Hampton Court estate in Herefordshire during the 17th and 18th Centuries has returned to the county.
The 15 parchment and paper documents dating from 1698 to 1773 were commissioned by Thomas Coningsby, the first Earl of Coningsby.
They show the full extent of the politician's Herefordshire estates in intricate detail.
The maps are on display at Hampton Court Castle on 28 and 29 of September.
The castle, in the village of Hope under Dinmore, near Leominster, was in the Coningsby family from 1510 until the 19th Century.
The two earliest maps in the volume show a typical English country house with formal gardens, along with "delightfully energetic drawings of horsemen in hot pursuit of deer" said Herefordshire Council's senior archivist Rhys Griffith.
Because of the item's historical value, earlier this year the culture minister barred a sale of the volume by a private owner in England to an overseas collector.
The council's archive service purchased the volume for £5,000 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.
Philip Bouchier, from Herefordshire's archive service, said the maps were very rare because they are drawn and painted by hand.
"They are also unique because all 15 maps are all of the same place, meaning we can build up an accurate picture of what the estate looked like in the 17th Century."
Mr Griffith 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 17th Century promoted his landed wealth in order to advance his political career.
"It is also a beautifully executed piece of work."