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RIBA buys Easton Neston model for £180k

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The RIBA has bought at auction one of the most important 17thcentury architectural models remaining in private hands.

The institute spent the best part of £180,000 on the design model for Nicholas Hawksmoor's Easton Neston in Northamptonshire, commissioned by William Fermor, First Baron Lempster (1648-1711).

The oak model, which was made in the 1690s, can be dismantled to reveal its interior, and features plasterwork details carved into the wood.

Easton Neston is an astonishingly grand house for its size, and its interiors, as originally built, formed a dramatic sequence of rooms packed cleverly into a relatively small area.

The model was sold this week by Sotheby's, during an auction of the contents of Easton Neston. Its acquisition by the RIBA followed a period of frantic fundraising by Charles Hind, HJ Heinz curator of drawings.

Hind picked up financial support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (£90,275), the National Art Collections Fund (Art Fund) (£45,137), the British Architectural Library Trust (£24,082) and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council's PRISM Fund (£18,055).

The model will shortly go on temporary display in the new architecture gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, opened last November as part of the V&A and RIBA Partnership.

Hind said he was delighted with the acquisition: 'We are incredibly grateful to the bodies that have given us the money to buy the model.

'I've known and admired this model since I first saw it when I was an undergraduate in the 1970s.

'Although it's a tremendous shame that it's leaving the house after more than 300 years, there is nowhere else more appropriate for it to be kept than at the RIBA, ' he added.

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