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The late Poet Laureate was as famous for his love of the countryside, churches and architecture in general as he was for verse. Indeed, from his ground-breaking Shell Guides to the – for many – unrivalled Collins Guide to Parish Churches, he showed how deeply ingrained the nation’s character was in the stone, wood and stained glass of our rural landscape.

So the fact that this collection of maps, published from 1940-42, was used by Betjeman in his research for the Shell and Murray guides, would have been reason enough for a flurry of bidding. The fact that they came complete with doodles, autograph notes and even a piece of poetry to the reverse of one, could have been expected to up the ante.

As it was, the lot is thought to have been a late private consignment, and thus missed both being illustrated in the catalogue and receiving widespread advance publicity.

However, Colin Page, a Brighton book dealer, spotted their potential and achieved a considerable scoop when he secured them for £170 plus premium against an estimate of £100-200.

The significance of his purchase was not lost on the Times, which duly reported the find at length, a report that alerted the British Library to the presence of the maps in Mr Page’s shop.

Within days, the BL had added them to their archive at a cost of £1500, still cheap at the price in the opinion of at least some Betjemanians.