Page last updated at 18:13 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Knight's tale artworks stay in UK

Eglinton tournament watercolour
The paintings depict the Eglinton tournament in 1839

A set of paintings depicting a 19th Century jousting tournament in Ayrshire are to go on display in the area.

East Ayrshire Council has successfully raised £85,100 to buy the Eglinton watercolours by James Henry Nixon.

The works depict scenes from a Medieval re-enactment tournament staged by the 13th Earl of Eglinton in 1839.

Historic shields, which furnished the knights' tents, were also bought for £7,000. The works will go on display at Dean Castle, Kilmarnock, next year.

A new exhibition will also be staged during the summer of 2011 at The Dick and will feature collections from throughout the country relating to the tournament and the Gothic Revival of the period.

Knights' shields were also produced for the tournament

UK Culture Minister Barbara Follett recently placed an export bar on the 20 watercolours, providing a last chance to raise funds to keep them in the UK.

Her ruling followed a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest.

The committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the watercolours are so closely connected with the nation's history and life that their departure would be "a misfortune".

The works were created to be used by lithographers for a folio account of the Eglinton tournament, which was published in 1843.

Councillor Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: "It is fantastic news that we have secured the watercolours and shields, as they form such an important part of our Ayrshire history.

"The display at Dean Castle and major exhibition at The Dick will help cement East Ayrshire's reputation as an important cultural destination."

Banquet and ball

The Eglinton Tournament, which took place over three days in August 1839, highlighted the 19th Century fascination with all things Medieval.

Privately funded by Lord Eglinton at a cost of £40,000 and held in front of the castle on his Ayrshire estate, the spectacle included a procession, jousting by tilt and mêlée, a banquet and a ball.

It was attended by 100,000 people who travelled from across Britain, Europe and even America.

Little is known about the artist James Henry Nixon, except that he was an artistic partner in a London stained-glass firm.

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