With a little help from our Friends 4: A Rare Sarum Missal & a Unique Set of Prayers for Mary I

The Friends of Lambeth Palace Library not only help to purchase material for the Library but they also facilitate other parties who wish to donate books or manuscripts to the Library. A significant accession that has come to us in this way is a copy of Missale secundu[m] vsum insignis ecclesiae Sa[rum] printed in Rouen in 1510 for the English market, and which is only otherwise known from a surviving fragment. It was presented to the Library through the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library by the Green family of Oklahoma City in 2014.

Title page
Title page showing St George slaying the Dragon.

It is a very attractive volume and retains a contemporary blind-tooled Cambridge calf binding over wooden boards (although it has been re-backed). Printed in red and black, it has typeset music on a four-line stave, as well as several fine woodcuts. As with many missals that were printed on paper at this time, the four leaves of the Canon of the Mass are printed on vellum. As this was the most used part of the book, vellum was used for durability. The Canon also contains two full-page illustrations (The Crucifixion and God the Father) with contemporary hand-colouring (see below).

Hand-coloured woodcut of God the Father from the Canon of the Mass
Hand-coloured woodcut of God the Father from the Canon of the Mass

The book was purchased by the Greens in 2013 from the sale of the Mendham Collection by the Law Society and they subsequently offered it to the Lambeth Palace Library. Mr Richard Linenthal of the Friends looked after the practicalities and legalities of the transfer. In 2014 Mr Steve Green (see below) presented the book to Lord Salisbury, Chairman of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, who formally accepted it on the Library’s behalf.

Lord Salisbury accepts the book from Mr Steve Green on behalf of the Friends

The Mendham Collection was substantial library of Catholic and anti-Catholic books and manuscripts assembled by the Anglican clergyman and controversialist Joseph Mendham (1769–1856) and this item contains a number of notes in Mendham’s own hand. Mendham bequeathed his extensive collection to his nephew, the Rev. John Mendham. Subsequently, John’s widow, Sophia, placed the books in the care of Charles Hastings Collette, a solicitor in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, who presented many of the books to the Incorporated Law Society in Chancery Lane. The books had been on loan to the University of Kent since 1965 and were being held at Canterbury Cathedral Library when the controversial decision to sell the collection was taken.

However, Mendham was not the only owner of the book to leave marks of provenance in the book. The book also has the armorial bookplate of the Coventry antiquary Thomas Sharp (1770-1841), which has been initialed by him. The earliest owner of the book that we can discern was Sir Adrian Fortescue (1476-1539), a relation of Anne Boleyn. Sir Adrian was arrested as a precaution in 1534 after his son-in-law, Silken Thomas, launched his rebellion but was released later that year. He was arrested again in 1539 and was included in the act of attainder of that year. Condemned to death for treason he was executed on Tower Hill on 9 July 1539. No details of Sir Adrian’s alleged treason were ever given. It has been speculated that the allegation of treason was due to his refusal to accept Henry VIII as supreme head of the Church of England. However, Richard Rex thinks this is unlikely, pointing out that not only did he cross out the papal title in his book of hours and missal but also used bidding prayers which recognised Henry VIII as head of the Church. Indeed, there is a note in the missal in his own hand dated 1536, affirming Henry VIII’s authority over the English church and ending “God save the kyng”. Rather, Rex thinks that the reason for Sir Adrian’s execution might have been his connection with the Pole family through his wife. During the sixteenth century Sir Adrian came to be venerated as an English martyr and was beatified in 1895.

Notes in the hand of Sir Adrian Fortescue
Notes in the hand of Sir Adrian Fortescue

Pasted into this book is another rare item, a single sheet containing three prayers in Latin (Oratio, Secreta and Postcommunio) for Mary I entitled Prayers or collectes to be sayd in the Masse for the Quenes highness, beinge with childe (see below). Mary married Philip of Spain in July 1554 and was thought to be pregnant by autumn 1554, with a celebratory procession and mass being held in St Paul’s in November. By early the next year it was clear that Mary was not pregnant and therefore it is likely that this sheet was printed in late 1554. It is the only known printed copy of these prayers to survive but there is another version of these prayers copied into a missal printed in Paris in 1516 for the bookseller Jean Petit that is now at York Minster Library. Michael Carter notes that there are some minor differences between the printed and manuscript version of the prayers but concludes that they are so minor that there can be little doubt that the version of the prayers in the missal at York is based on the printed sheet.

Prayers for Mary
The only existing copy known of three prayers for Queen Mary during her supposed pregnancy

We are most grateful to the Green family for saving this wonderful book for the nation and to the Friends for facilitating the gift.

Further Reading

Richard Rex, ‘Blessed Adrian Fortescue: a Martyr Without a Cause?’, Anelecta Bollandiana, 115 (1997), pp. 307-353.

Sotheby & Co., Highlights from the Mendham Collection : the property of the Law Society of England and Wales. London: Sothebys, 2013.

Michael Carter, ‘Unanswered Prayers: a Cistercian Missal at York Minster Library’, The Antiquaries Journal, 95, (2015), pp. 1–11 (available at doi:10.1017⁄s0003581515000414).

Annotated copy of the first Bible printed in England

A guest blog post by Dr Eyal Poleg, Queen Mary, University of London 

Lambeth Palace SR2 E75 is a peculiar book.  It is a copy of the first Bible to be printed in England – the ‘best of’ the Latin Vulgate, printed by Thomas Bethelet in London, July 1535.  But it is not the original text that is the most interesting about this book.  At first glance it appears to be a clean copy, with little to no marginal annotations and signs of reading.  A more careful look reveals a hidden layer.  At empty spaces at the end of prologues and sections, or at blank margins, a very thick paper was carefully pasted.  This was done so professionally that previous librarians have placed the library stamp and wrote the shelf mark on this pasted paper.

Pasted page with Library stamp
Pasted page with Library stamp

Naturally, one wonders why was this paper placed, and what lies underneath.  Having discussed the matter with the Library staff, a go-ahead was given to experiment with non-obtrusive ways of uncovering this.  Using long exposures and a light-sheet, Steph Eeles, the Library’s resourceful photographer, was able to reveal some of the happening underneath.  It revealed a mass of marginal annotations.  However, as the images merged texts from both sides of the paper, they were virtually indecipherable.

Images merging text from both sides of the paper
Images merging text from both sides of the paper

Help came from an unexpected place.  Dr Graham Davis from the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London has long been developing innovative technologies and instruments for digital imagery within his discipline, as well as assisting medieval scholars and archivists (see http://apocalypto.org.uk).  Seeing the images, he began developing ways of ‘subtracting’ one image from the other, thus clearing up the annotations.  Two joint sessions with Graham and Steph assisted in perfecting the images.

Photography in progress
Photography in progress

Graham then took the time to develop a software for image subtraction, which he trialled and tested.  Eventually it enabled the desired result of isolating the hidden annotations.

Isolation of hidden annotations
Isolation of hidden annotations

A full analysis of the annotations will be published in due course, but they incorporate an English table of liturgical reading, revealing the parallel use of Latin and English in the liturgy during the reign of Henry the Eighth.

Cataloguing LPL’s (not only) Greek manuscripts

Hebrew annotation to MS 1214
Hebrew annotation in the Octateuch MS 1214

For the last ten years Lambeth Palace Library and the Hellenic Institute, Royal Holloway, have been engaged in a fruitful collaborative partnership. Lambeth has been pleased to welcome students to annual Greek Palaeography workshops using the collection of fifty-three Greek manuscripts acquired during the four centuries since the Library’s foundation. This palaeographical work led to an exhibition of some jewels of the collection for the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies in London in August 2006 and the production of the first complete inventory of the collection. Now, thanks to a very generous grant from the A.G. Leventis Foundation, work has started on a detailed analytical catalogue. According to Dr Christopher Wright, one of the research team, the project has made discoveries that cast light on the diversity of cultural communities and interactions across linguistic and religious boundaries in the Byzantine Empire, where most of these codices were produced.

Dr Israel Sandman has assisted the project team by examining Hebrew annotations in the Octateuch MS 1214, which was copied in 1103 for the Byzantine governor of Cyprus by a scribe named John Koulix, who described himself in his colophon as a foreigner and whose surname may indicate that he was of Russian origin. It has been found that most of the Hebrew annotations mark the beginnings of the Scriptural passages read in sequence in synagogues on the Sabbath through the course of the year. Palaeographical analysis suggests that the notes were added by members of the Jewish community in the Byzantine world, probably in the 15th century. Thus it seems that this manuscript, though originally produced for a Greek Orthodox imperial official, later passed into Jewish liturgical use. Such use was compatible with Jewish law, Greek being the one permitted alternative to Hebrew for the Torah reading.

Recently further cross-cultural connections have come to light in MS 1179, a Gospel book probably produced in the 11th century. The sequence numbers of its quires have been identified as Armenian numerals, indicating that the codex was bound by an Armenian, either originally or in some later rebinding. This element of the manuscript’s history may also be reflected in annotations which have been added in the margins at various times, including prayers for the protection of the individuals who wrote the notes and for the souls of others. These are written in Greek, but the standard of language is generally very poor, sometimes to the point of incomprehensibility, which may indicate that those who wrote them were not native speakers, while two of those commemorated appear to bear specifically Armenian names. The use of the Gospels in Greek suggests that the owners of the codex did not live in the Armenian lands but in the migrant communities to be found in many places across the Byzantine Empire. Such communities were an important presence on both sides of the Sea of Marmara, which may help to explain the manuscript’s eventual acquisition by the Greek monastery of the Holy Trinity on the island of Chalke in that sea, where it was purchased in 1800/1.