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    Sale 7590

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    4 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 40


    Price Realised  


    [Midlands, England, early 15th century]165 x 110mm. v paper + 373 + iv paper leaves (including lifted pastedown), 15th-century addition: 16, 27(of 6 + iv); 3-346, 352(of 6 lacking ii-v), 36-496, 508, 516, 524(of 6, v and vi cancelled blanks); 15th-century addition: 532, 542(ii former pastedown); original section: some catchwords in lower margins of final versos, 31 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand in two columns between four verticals and 32 horizontals ruled in brown, rubrics in red, calendar in blue, red and black, one-line initials alternately in red and blue, two-line initials in blue with red flourished infills, five- and six-line initials in blue with red flourishing extending into margin (lacking four leaves and the final gatherings from Psalter, losses from leaves extending into text affecting 13 lines f.345, 5 lines f.346, 17 lines f.347, 6 lines f.348, 13 lines f.372; losses from upper margins of some leaves, margin of f.53 excised, worm damage to margins ff.349-360, repaired tear on f.373, margins worn, rubrics worn on many folios). 19th-century half brown leather, 15th- or 16th-century vellum fore-edge tabs (joints split, spine cracked, worn).


    The breviary is for the use of Sarum and was probably made within the diocese of Lichfield: St Chad (2 March) is one of the few saints apart from the Apostles to appear in blue in the calendar and his feast is included in the list of principal feasts, f.193v; St Thomas of Hereford (2 October) appears in red, the second ranking colour. The sequence of additions is not clear but the emphasis on saints especially honoured in the Midlands continues: there are additions for St Chad and for St Winifrid whose relics were at Shrewsbury. The calendar was augmented by two of the 'new feasts', popularised in the later 15th century -- the Visitation (2 July) and the Transfiguration (6 August) -- and by further English saints including, in red, the translation of Modwenna of Burton-on-Trent (9 September) and Frideswide of Oxford (19 October), see N.R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, I, 1969, pp.320-21. St Modwenna's cult had a very limited appeal beyond the immediate area of Burton-on-Trent: only one calendar with the feast of her translation was known to the editor of her Vita (R. Bartlett ed., Geoffrey of Burton: Life and Miracles of St Modwenna, 2002, pp.xxx-xxxiv).

    Among the additions to the calendar in black is the dedicacio sancti martini de desforde (24 May), showing that the book had passed to someone associated with the parish church of St Martin at Desford, Leicestershire. The addition of lections for the translation of St Hugh of Lincoln, ff.9-10, may have been made at this time since Desford was in the diocese of Lincoln, although it is much nearer to Lichfield than to Lincoln and not far from Burton-on-Trent. The obit of Anne Shirley was inserted by 1 December. A clumsier hand added Hordulphi festum duplex at 21 August: this may be St Odulph whose relics were at Evesham but his feasts were not usually celebrated on that day.

    The book continued in use at least until the Reformation: all offices or references to Thomas Becket have been scored through in accordance with the law passed under Henry VIII in 1538.

    Notes on the content by the great palaeographer and historian, Joseph Stevenson (1806-1895), signed and dated Cambridge, 1836, on paper leaves iv-v. Stevenson's progression from Presbyterianism to the Church of England -- he was ordained in 1841 -- culminated in his reception into the Roman Catholic Church in 1863.

    Engraved bookplate of Daniel Rock (1799-1871), as canon of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Southwark, an office he held from 1852. Rock was an historian of the liturgy, whose pioneering study of the Sarum rite appeared between 1849-1854, and an expert in the material remains of the medieval church, who advised Pugin and catalogued artefacts for what became the Victoria and Albert Museum.

    The property of a religious institution.


    Additions: lections of the Virgin, in the octave of the dedication of a church and of St Thomas Becket, the last scored through and with initials in a different red, perhaps all by the same hand, ff.1-5v; prayers and hymns and lections, chiefly in honour of the Virgin, in a different hand, ff.5v-8; part of the office of the Virgin, in a cursive hand, f.8; lections for the translation of Hugh of Lincoln, in two hands, ff.9-10; lections for the Virgin in summer, perhaps in the hand of most of the calendar additions, ff.11-12; lections for St Chad, in a faded ink, ff.12-13v, a note on the reference to England in Bernardus Compostellanus's gloss on Innocent III's De postulacionibus, f.13v.
    Breviary for the use of Sarum, ff.14-367: Temporal ff.14-185v; dedication of a church ff.186-192, Rubrics on the celebration of feasts 'according to the use of Sarum', on benedictions, on the principal feasts in 'the church of Sarum', on the Easter sepulchre and paschal candles ff.192-193v; Calendar with added prognostications in English and Latin on the foot of each page, opening Yf it thundir in the monthe of Ianuarii... ff.194-199v; Psalter, lacking from Ps 21 xxvii to Ps 48 xv and at the end from Ps 102 xiv, ff.200-225v; Sanctoral ff.226-345; Communal ff.345v-366; benedictions before and after meals ff.366v-367.

    Additions: further rubric, perhaps in hand of most calendar additions, f.367; collect of St Winifrid, f.367v; lections for the octave of the birth of the Virgin, f.367v-388; lections for St Praxedis, f.368; prayers, opening with indulgence for Avete omnes fideles, f.368v; couplets frigore torpemur, f.368v, Mortua presbyteri, Quid vento levius, f.369; jottings on communal and other notes, f.369; compline of the hours of the cross, f.369v; prayers for the dead, ff.370-371; Salve regina and other Marian prayers, f.371-372; prayer for intercession of named saints, f.372v; prayer to St Bridget, f.373.

    A breviary was essential for a cleric who wished to fulfil his obligation to recite the office at the set liturgical hours each day. The breviary was not restricted to the clergy but the complexities of the church calendar and the changing offices meant that laymen and women usually preferred the simpler book of hours. While many churches had chained or caged breviaries available, the present lot is of a size to be easily portable for individual use. The comparatively modest flourished decoration makes it possible that its first owner was also its scribe. The book apparently remained in clerical ownership to be used by a series of individual clerics, who carefully added the offices and prayers they found necessary. These were in Latin, with the exception of the calendar prognostications that show how orthodox religion merged with belief systems deeply rooted in pre-Christian tradition. The sequence of use still evident in this breviary make it an intriguing witness to devotional practice in the Midlands, and specifically in a Leicestershire parish.

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