Rare Armada maps saved for the nation

A RARE set of maps charting the defeat of the Spanish Armada have been saved from being sold overseas after the National Museum of the Royal Navy raised £600,000 in just eight weeks.

The ten maps, a complete set, are thought to be the earlies surviving representations of the naval battles and have not left the UK since they were first drawn in 1589. They were secured thanks to two grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund; and the generous support of the British public. Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy said: "Like many cultural and heritage institutions 2020 was an exceptionally tough year but we rallied and I am incredibly proud that we have made sure that the Armada Maps have been saved for generations to come."

Like many cultural and heritage institutions 2020 was an exceptionally tough year but we rallied and I am incredibly proud that we have made sure that the Armada Maps have been saved for generations to come.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy

The ten ink and watercolour Armada Maps present a defining moment in England’s national and naval history. They depict in real time a Navy defending England’s shores against invasion by the 16th Century’s imperial super-power of Spain, with each map detailing the position in the Channel of individual ships in the English and Spanish fleets.

An export bar was placed in July on the hand-drawn maps depicting the famous battle of 1589 and which were completed by an unknown draughtsman, possibly from the Netherlands.

In order to prevent their sale abroad, the Portsmouth-based museum raised £600,000 in just eight weeks through public donations and grants of £212,800 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £200,000 from the Art Fund.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: "The Armada Maps, first drawn in 1589, are an important piece of British heritage serving to remind us of this pivotal naval battle. 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."

René Olivieri, Interim Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: “We at the National Heritage Memorial Fund are delighted to support the acquisition of these rare and significant maps, which illustrate in incredible detail the defeat of the Spanish Armanda, a key moment in England’s history.”

Sarah Philp, Director of Programme and Policy for Art Fund added: “Art Fund is so pleased to help save these irreplaceable maps for the nation, which not only evoke an iconic event in the history of England, but prompt reflection on the influence that history has on the present day.”

To ensure that the maps can be viewed and enjoyed by members of the public for the first time a new phase of fundraising has now started. The National Museum of the Royal Navy wishes to place the maps on display during 2021 and has longer term plans for them to tour the country when current COVID restrictions permit.

Sponsors or partners wishing to support the campaign to support the display and tour are encouraged to contact fundraising@nmrn.org.uk