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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 April 2006, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Tax deal helps save 'treasures'
Portrait of Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland (1690)
One of the artefacts is a portrait of the Duchess of Cleveland
Artefacts worth more than 170,000 will remain at a 700-year-old castle following a deal over inheritance tax.

Visitors to Chirk Castle near Wrexham will be able to see valuable historic treasures.

Some 20 artefacts were offered in lieu of inheritance tax by the Myddleton family, who lived in the castle for generations.

There had been fears that the paintings, furniture and vases and others might have to be sold privately.

But they will stay at the castle, provided they remain under the care of the National Trust.

"We are delighted by the announcement that these important artefacts are preserved, together in their original context for ever, for everyone," said Emma Hegarty, property manager at Chirk Castle.

They have been there for generations and to have seen them leave, possibly overseas, would have been a catastrophe
Karen Sinclair AM
"They could easily have been sold and gone overseas."

The secured items include a portrait of Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland (1690), and a knife and fork with figures of a man and a woman carved in the handles

Culture Minister Alun Pugh said: "These are important pieces which have been in the Myddleton family for a long time and I'm pleased they will remain at Chirk Castle for the enjoyment of all the visitors to this beautiful site."

A knife and fork carved with the figures of a man and a woman
Detailed figures have been carved into the knife and fork

Under the National Heritage Act 1980, property of national and historic interest can be accepted instead of payment of inheritance tax.

The National Trust owns and runs the fortress which was built in the late 13th Century by the justice of North Wales for Edward I.

Clwyd South AM Karen Sinclair said: "I'm delighted that these important artefacts will still to be shown to the public in north-east Wales, at their rightful home in Chirk Castle.

"People can continue to enjoy them at this superb attraction and that can only be a good thing.

"They have been there for generations and to have seen them leave, possibly overseas, would have been a catastrophe. If they had gone, they would certainly never have returned.

"As well as the historic importance, having these assets still at Chirk Castle makes it more attractive as a tourist destination and this in turn helps to boost the local economy."

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