Entertainment

Rare Spanish Armada maps saved from sell-off to go on public display

People will be able to view the collection at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in Portsmouth.
People will be able to view the collection at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in Portsmouth. People will be able to view the collection at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in Portsmouth.

Rare maps detailing the defeat of the Spanish Armada are set to go on public display for the first time.

The 10 maps, drawn in 1589, are believed to be the earliest representation of the naval battles that took place a year earlier.

The exhibition showing the “defining moment” in the country’s history comes after an urgent fundraising appeal in 2020 raised £600,000 to save the ink and watercolour pieces from being sold off abroad.

Members of the public will be able to view the collection at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in Portsmouth, for 45 days from June 24 to August 8.

Armada Maps National Treasures Exhibition
Armada Maps National Treasures Exhibition Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, looks at one of the maps (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The timeframe follows expert advice on the dangers of light exposure and the fragility of the maps.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, the museum’s director general, said: “Our job is to tell the epic story of the Royal Navy, its impact on Britain, as well as the world, from the earliest times to the present day, to that end we’re delighted to display the complete Armada Maps Collection for the first time at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

“The defeat of the Armada was a turning point in forging our nation’s identity and the maps act as a powerful commemoration of this pivotal naval battle.”

He added: “The Armada Maps National Treasures exhibition is hugely significant; it is an opportunity for us to link navy to nation and educate future generations about the origins of the Royal Navy as a protector of an island nation.”

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to try out a touchscreen and animation created specifically for the maps.

The museum will also explore the build-up to the Armada campaign and will showcase an extremely rare map from May 1588 of the Spanish Armada outside Lisbon.

Arts and heritage minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “The Armada Maps are incredibly rare documents from the most significant naval battle of the early modern period.

“I am delighted that the export bar placed on these 10 hand-drawn maps allowed time for the National Museum of the Royal Navy to secure these national treasures and keep them accessible to the public.”