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The Bute map of Singapore makes its debut in Singapore

26th September 2019

The Bute map of Singapore makes its debut in Singapore

The Bute map of Singapore has just made its first trip to Singapore to be included in the bicentennial exhibition of the founding of Singapore ‘On Paper: Singapore Before 1867’.

Our archivist, Lynsey Nairn, travelled over with the map in order to supervise the installation. Here, she tells us about the significance of the item and its installation:

It has been a pleasure to work with the National Library Board of Singapore and their staff at the National Library again. In 2012, we lent 13 letters to them for an exhibition on the founding of Singapore called ‘Raffles Letters: Intrigues behind the Founding of Singapore’; unfortunately, the map did not make the trip on that occasion.

The map and the letters in the exhibition belong to the Hasting Papers in the Bute Archive. Francis Rawdon Hastings (1754-1826), 1st Marquess of Hastings, served as Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in India. Hastings’ daughter, Sophia, married John Crichton-Stuart, 2nd Marquess of Bute and their son, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart (1847-1900), built the Mount Stuart we know today.

‘When Raffles sailed from Calcutta on 7 December 1818 as Agent of the Governor-General with instructions to establish a British trading post, Hastings’ last words to him were, ‘Sir Stamford, you may depend upon me’. Dr. John Bastin, The Founding of Singapore, National Library Board, Singapore, 2012.

I was one of several couriers installing items and material into this exhibition; others included:

  • Maritime Museum of Rotterdam
  • The National Archives, UK
  • The British Library
  • National Library of Congress
  • The Bibliothèque nationale de France

In addition to the map of Singapore, the exhibition also utilised the Bute map. Our map was copied and used as the flooring for one section of the exhibition. I'll be honest when I say that took me a little time to get my head around it, as I felt like I was walking all over our own map- it really was very odd!

The Map of Singapore has been gathering interest during its travels. The Singapore national education board have asked for our permission to reproduce the map in a standard primary school book, and the Prime Minister of Singapore has also requested permission to use our map during a speech.

The exhibition opens on Friday 27th September and the final day is Sunday 22nd March 2020. So if you're travelling to Singapore during this time, the exhibition is well worth a visit!