Christopher Henry Beaumont Pease, Lord Wardington, of Wardington Manor, near Banbury -- who has died aged 81 -- was a popular member of the village community and an avid collector of maps and atlases.

One of his prize purchases was the first illustrated atlas of the world, Ptolemy's Atlas -- published in 1477.

Lord Wardington was awarded the Sir Thomas More Medal for Book Collecting in 1994.

In April last year, when a fire destroyed much of the manor house, dozens of villagers formed a human chain to carry his prized collection of books to safety.

He was born in 1924 and educated at Eton. During World War Two, Lord Wardington was a captain in the Scots Guards in Italy but his front line action lasted only three weeks.

A German shell which exploded nearby peppered him with shrapnel. After the war, he joined the stock-broking firm of Hoare and Co.

He was made a partner in 1955, the year he succeeded to the title of Lord Wardington. He married former model Audrey Dunfee in 1964 and they adopted three children, Lucy, Helen and Will.

He stayed with the firm until 1986 when he retired from the City.

One of Lord Wardington's other interests was charity work -- in particular the Athlone Trust, which provides help for the education of adopted children.

He became the first chairman of the Friends of the British Library when it was founded in 1989, was vice-president in 1994, and president in 1999.

Lord Wardington was a keen squash and tennis player in his youth, and was a member of the All England Tennis Association at Wimbledon where he held seats at Centre Court and Court One.

Alongside his books, Lord Wardington's passion was the village and villagers of Wardington.

He was for many years the captain of the cricket club and his generosity to village clubs and associations was well-known in the area.

The gardens of Wardington Manor were continually used for fund-raising fetes and garden parties, and the house itself was 'opened' on many occasions for charitable purposes.