Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

In the past month alone he has given notice of at least four such orders, starting with one on a pair of panel paintings by Bartolo di Fredi Cini (1340-1410): St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist. His decision on these works came after the Export Review Committee advised that the panels were an outstanding example of the Sienese artist’s work and had huge potential for the study of Italian art in the late 14th century. The export has been deferred until June 21 to allow a UK buyer to come up with £1.08m needed.

Second on the list of temporary bans is a collection of 90 Middle Bronze Age axe heads, dating to around 1400-1250BC. None is valued at more than £290, but their importance for the study of Breton and Norman axe-head types, and their archaeological significance for demonstrating cross-channel trade in manufacturing methods and metals at the time of their creation persuaded the Minister to intervene. Found by a farmer using a metal detector on his own land in Dorset in October 1989, the hoard is especially significant because of its size. Deferral is until May 26 and the heads can be bought either singly or as a collection.

Next up for a temporary ban were a series of letters written between 1867 and 1879, from the author George Eliot to Jane Senior and Jane’s son Walter, with two letters signed by George Eliot’s partner, G.H. Lewes. The export of the 26 letters has been deferred to July 26, with a price of just over £21,000 being sought.

Last on the list is a selection of archival material belonging to the architect C.F.A. Voysey. Of particular importance are two ledger account books giving a rare insight into his working life which are significant in the study of the Arts and Craft Movement. The deferral is until May 9, with a recommended price of £25,000.