Michael Places Temporary Export Ban on Charles Dickens’ Table

In my capacity as the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism I have recently placed a temporary Export Bar blocking a William IV mahogany table from leaving the country following an application to export it after it was bought at auction in December 2017 at Christie’s. This important piece of our heritage was once owned and regularly used by Charles Dickens.

My decision was made following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), who consider its departure from the UK would be a misfortune due to its “close connection with our history and national life”.

The table is believed to have been made in about 1835. It has a revolving drum top above eight drawers and is covered in green leather.

According to the RCEWA, it was used by Dickens during most of his career – first in his London home at Devonshire Terrace; then his offices on Wellington Street, London where he published Household Words and All the Year Round; and finally in his library at Gad’s Hill Place in Higham, Kent, where he died in 1870.

It is also known to have contained the keys to his wine cellar, and appears to be one of the very first objects to have been formally labelled with Dickens’ name. One drawer contains an oval silver plaque stating that the table stood in his library. As one of Britain’s most famous novelists, it is only right for there to be great expectations on us to protect Dickens’ study table for the benefit of the nation. You can read more about this using the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/what-the-dickens-authors-study-table-at-risk-of-export.