Saving Sir John Narbrough's Diary





The English naval commander Sir John Narbrough’s diary was discovered alongside a series of illustrated maps and drawings earlier this year with the family papers of the Earls of Romney at the Centre for Kentish Studies. The hand-written journal, which had been lost for the past 300 years, is now the subject of a desperate battle between a private collector and the British Library in their respective attempts to it for their own collections.

The document is currently owned by a foreign private collector who bought the journal and maps for £310,000. However, English law stipulates that any original manuscript must be granted a special export licence before it can be sent abroad and a temporary export bar has been imposed by culture minister Barbara Follett until November 7th. In the meantime, the British Library is pursuing its efforts to collect the necessary funds to equal the buying price and purchase the diary. The British Library has so far raised £90,000 and has also secured a £200,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. It still, however, has a further £30,000 to collect.

Why is Narbrough’s diary such a prized document?

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