“A little bundle of time”: Werner Rolevinck’s epic chronicle of the world, 1474

The Fasciculus temporum is an epic chronicle of ecclesiastical and world history, beginning with the biblical account of Creation up to events of the 15th century, such as the invention of printing. As well as being a bestseller in its day, the chronicle is an innovative example of early printing and represents one of the first examples of a writer working closely with a printer to ensure their intentions are carried out. The author in question, Werner Rolevinck (1425-1502), was born near Laer in Westphalia, Germany, the son of a prosperous farmer. He was probably educated in Cologne and in 1447 entered the Carthusian monastery of St. Barbara where he remained until his death. In his years at St Barbara’s, Rolevinck (or Rolewinck) produced more than 50 works, mainly theological and devotional in nature, but he is best known for the Fasciculus temporum, the title of which is commonly translated as “A little bundle of time”.

First printed in Cologne in 1474 and one of the first books by a living author to be published, the Fasciculus temporum became enormously popular and was reprinted in numerous editions and translations, including close to 40 editions during the author’s lifetime. It greatly influenced the major world chronicles that followed, including Hartmann Schedel’s famous Liber cronicarum (“Nuremberg chronicle”), first published by Anton Koberger in 1493.

Woodcut of the Tower of Babel from the 1476 edition, also showing manuscript waste used as endpapers on the Lambeth copy ([ZZ]1476.2)
Lambeth Palace Library holds copies of two later editions of Rolevinck’s chronicle, the first printed in Louvain by Johnann Veldener in 1476 and the other published in Cologne around 1483. The former ([ZZ]1476.2) bears the arms of John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, on the binding and has leaves from a medieval manuscript as endpapers. The 1483 copy ([ZZ]1500.6.01) is described in the catalogues of the libraries of both Whitgift and Archbishop Richard Bancroft, who purchased Archbishop Whitgift’s books after his death. These editions corrected the errors that slipped into the printing of the first in 1474.

The Fasciculus temporum is an innovative work in several ways, not least in making a significant contribution to the organisation and presentation of historical information on the printed page. More than any previous writer before him, Rolevinck employed the layout of the page to structure his chronicle. The arrangement is complex, presenting unique challenges to the printer by using lines, shapes, images and text to convey the flow of time horizontally across the page. Rolevinck designed his book with two parallel timelines running continuously as the pages are turned, one running from the date of the creation of the world (established as 5199 B.C.) and the other beginning with the birth of Christ. This display allows the reader to compare important historical events with the key events of Christianity; the upper page is devoted to biblical and ecclesiastical history, while the lower part of the page covers secular events, including Classical mythology. A woodcut strip running across the centre of each page is separated from the rest of the text above and below by two sets of lines. Placed inside this band are circles containing the names of popes, saints, classical writers, and legendary figures from the Old Testament.

Rolevinck's_Fasciculus_Temporum,_1474 wiki
Woodcut timeline with text above and below in the Cardiff University copy of the 1474 edition.

The text provides some of the earliest evidence of collaboration between author and printer in the design of printed books. In the colophon of first edition, printer Arnold Ther Hoernen (d.1483 or 1484) states that he is working from a manuscript provided by Rolevinck himself, “following the first exemplar which this venerable author himself wrote by hand completely.” It seems likely that the original manuscript also provided a layout for the printer to follow; Ther Hoernen had to be particularly skilled to replicate this design successfully and the numerous errors which had to be fixed in later editions demonstrate just how difficult a task this turned out to be!

Like many incunabula, the Fasciculus temporum is illustrated with a small number of woodcuts, some of which appear more than once – for example, a woodcut of an anonymous city on fire is used to represent the burning of Troy as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. There are, however, unique and particularly nice illustrations for Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel, Several different woodcuts are employed to illustrate the second half of the book, which is full of references to signs and omens such as earthquakes, monstrous births, and the appearance of comets and eclipses.

Woodcuts of Noah’s Ark and a rainbow on [a3v] of the 1476 edition. The text was rubricated by hand in red ink after printing following the earlier manuscript tradition ([ZZ]1476.2)
Rolevinck’s timeline takes us right up to his own lifetime with the papacy of Sixtus IV (1471-1484) and highlights the invention of printing and the emerging mass availability of books. Rolevinck first shares his thoughts on book collecting while describing the Library of Alexandria: “From this it is clear what great diligence ancient times showed in collecting books. Let those blush for shame who do not acquire a good supply of books when it can be done, of course, by small cost.” Rolevinck’s belief is that the rise of printing has finally made the noble goal of collecting books available to everyone:

“[Printing is] the art of arts, the science of sciences [which will] enrich and illuminate this world in its evil state. The unlimited virtue of books … is now spread by this discovery to every tribe, people, nation, and language everywhere …”

As one of the first true bestsellers, the Fasciculus temporum certainly played its part in bringing the ‘unlimited virtue of books’ to a wider audience than ever before.


Matthew S. Champion. The fullness of time: Temporalities of the fifteenth-century Low Countries. University of Chicago Press, 2017.

“Fasciculus temporum”. Open book: News from the Rare Books Department of Special Collections at the J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah. Accessed 28 July, 2020. https://openbook.lib.utah.edu/book-of-the-week-fasciculus-temporum/

L. C. Ward. “Authors and authority: The influence of Jean Gerson and the “Devotio moderna” on the Fasciculus temporum of Werner Rolevinck”, in: Die Kartäuser und ihre Welt. Kontakte und gegenseitige Einflüsse, I (Analecta Cartusiana, 62), 1993, pp. 171-188

Mark A. Lotito. The reformation of historical thought. Leiden: Brill, 2019.

Virginia Moscrip. “Werner Rolevinck’s Fasciculus temporum”. University of Rochester Library Bulletin, Vol. IX, No. 3, Spring 1954. Accessed 28 July, 2020. https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/3422

Christmas update from the Library and Record Centre

Merry Christmas from
the Library and Record Centre!

Lambeth Palace Library and the Church of England Record Centre regularly embark on new projects and acquire and catalogue new material, from rare books and manuscripts to modern publications.  These posts provide a brief update on some of our latest acquisitions, projects and upcoming events, to keep you up-to-date with our most recent news.

New books

Enjoy reading one (or more!) of our recently acquired new books. Highlights include:

Magazines and journals

Lambeth Palace Library also collects a variety of magazines and journals. You are very welcome to visit the Reading Room to consult these too. Some of our recently received titles include:
magazinesChurch Archaeology
Ecclesiastical Law Journal
Ecclesiology Today
The Friends Quarterly
Historical Research
The Huguenot Society Journal
Journal of Ecclesiastical History
Journal of Religious History, Literature & Culture
Modern Believing
Parliamentary History
The Prayer Book Today
Privacy & Data Protection
Royal Historical Society Transactions


We also receive the following papers and magazines weekly:
The Church of England Newspaper
Church Times
The Tablet
TLS (The Times Literary Supplement)

Please note that since October 2019, Lambeth Palace Library is closed on Fridays. This is to give the staff time to prepare the collections for the move to the new library building. Opening hours will be 10am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 10am to 7.30 pm on Thursday.


Upcoming events

‘Bishop Symon Patrick (1626-1707) – unsung hero of the Restoration Church of England’

Dr Nicholas Fisher
Thursday 26 March, 6pm (admittance from 5:30pm)

PYT0001 (2)In 2018, Nick Fisher was the first recipient of a Lambeth doctorate after the scheme had been rebranded ‘Lambeth Research Degrees in Theology’.  His thesis explored the writings and career of Symon Patrick from Rector of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, to Bishop of Ely. This illustrated talk will explore the religious tensions of Charles II’s reign and suggest that Patrick’s contribution to the national Church has been unjustly neglected.

All are welcome, but those wishing to attend should book a free ticket at https://nickfisherlambeth.eventbrite.co.uk, or email melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org not later than Friday 20 March.

Day conference on the seventeenth-century book collector Richard Smith (1590-1675) and his library


Wednesday 27 May (further details to follow)

Speakers will include Peter Lake, Jason Peacey, Andrew Foster, Vanessa Harding, David Pearson, Alan Nelson and Kenneth Fincham.

The Books of Henry Bradshawe, nephew of the regicide

Professor Alan Nelson (University of California, Berkeley)
Tuesday 9 June, 5:30pm (admittance not before 5pm)

Gate HouseThe name of Henry Bradshawe, and the family seat in Marple, Cheshire, in the seventeenth century, are familiar to bibliographers and to the book trade. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, John Bradshawe the regicide, being childless, bequeathed ‘all my Law Bookes,’ along with books ‘on divinity, history and other books’ to his nephew Henry, who maintained the family library until his death in 1698. This traditional account is an extreme simplification of the true story, which must start with the realization that books from the Bradshawe family library carry the ownership signatures of at least four Henry Bradshawes. Books from the library are scattered across the English-speaking world.

In association with the University of London research seminar on the History of Libraries. All are welcome, but those wishing to attend should book a free ticket at https://alannelsonlambeth.eventbrite.co.uk, or email melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org not later than Friday 5 June.

Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, followed by a lecture by Professor Richard Gameson: ‘Codex and Colour: the pigments of Lambeth Palace manuscripts’

Thursday 18 June, 2:30pm (admittance not before 2pm)

RichardGamesonOne of the most striking aspects of medieval manuscripts is their ravishing colours. Scientific advances mean that it is now possible, using non-invasive techniques, to identify the pigments that were used to produce the illuminations in question. This lecture will report the findings from recent investigations of illuminations in Lambeth Palace Library, explaining the processes that were used, summarising the pigments that were identified, and contextualising them within broader patterns of medieval and renaissance painting.

This meeting, open to Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, will be followed by tea. Friends should book in advance with Melissa Harrison, Lambeth Palace Library, melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org  or telephone 020 7898 1400.


New Library update

The project remains on time and on budget, and detailed planning for the move is taking place. The scaffolding is coming down on the whole building, with the front elevations now clearly visible.
View from Lambeth Bridger Oct19

View of the Library from Lambeth Bridge

Internally, all shelving units have been installed and the installation of timber bookcases in the Reading Room is also nearing completion.


Shelving units installed

Reading Room shelves

View from inside the east wing Reading Room

Externally, the landscaping works for the Palace are progressing with the brick features and extensive soft landscaping. This will continue into 2020 and will include extensive planting and a wetland habitat. The external landscaping works on Lambeth Palace Road will commence in January 2020 with remodelling of the footpath immediately outside the site (with pedestrian access maintained at all times).

External facade and wetland

External facade and wetland area

Library staff enjoyed visits to the site in November to view the latest progress of the build.


The new Library offers spectacular views of the surrounding area, a few glimpses of which can be seen below:

view from semianr room Oct19
View from the seminar room



Knight Harwood have been running workshops for children at The Evelina Children’s Hospital, as part of the project’s commitment to engaging with the surrounding community. In their latest workshop, on 27th November, patients enjoyed building their versions of the new Lambeth Palace Library out of Duplo and Lego, with the help of the developers from Knight Harwood, teachers from Evelina Hospital School and play specialists. Children and young people, aged 18 months to 13 years old, had a perfect view of the new library, which is being built just across the road from Evelina Hospital, inspiring them to construct their own versions of the building. The full article can be read here on Evelina Hospital’s website, and the children’s designs are on display in front of Evelina Hospital School.


The results of one of Knight Harwood’s workshops with the Evelina Children’s Hospital


Archive news

A large amount of material has continued to be digitised and made available through the Library’s online image gallery. Recent highlights include a range of manuscripts from Sion College (best opened in Chrome):


Sion L40.2L7 f.13r

An English translation of Tacitus’ Annals (MS 683) held by the Library and dating from c.1600 was the subject of an article in the Times Literary Supplement: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/royally-adorned/ and other press coverage regarding corrections made by Elizabeth I. The volume has also been fully digitised.

ElizabethMS 683 f.2r

The Library’s archive collections have featured heavily in some recent publications:

Appraisal and cataloguing work continues on the papers of Archbishop George Carey. In addition a range of other material has been catalogued, such as archives of the Nikaean Club, the Liturgical Commission, the Joint Liturgical Group and Lord Wharton’s Charity, and papers of various 19th century Archbishops of Canterbury, Henry Evington, Bishop of Kyushu, and correspondence regarding the Book of Common Prayer (1928).

Staff have hosted a range of visits, ranging from academic institutions such as the Open University and Royal Holloway (University of London) to professional groups such as notaries public.


Lambeth Palace Library and Church of England Record Centre Collection and People Migration Project

Teams are getting-ready for the big move next year to the new Lambeth Palace Library site at the end of the Lambeth Palace Garden, which is due for handing over in April 2020.  In the meantime, planning has been working towards scheduling the move of people and collections across the year 2020; and finishing-off some of the final mapping (where things are going in the new building) and protection (cleaning, boxing etc) of collections.  Activities have included clearing out old kit and equipment (a few skips worth!) both at CERC and LPL; and over 34,000 boxes being made for books moving across to the new library, which also included cleaning them all!

Next steps are working through protection needs for CERC, finishing off Morton’s Tower and ending with protection of the most vulnerable collections in the Great Hall.  Exciting times ahead as next year is a busy move year for us with all Library and Record Centre staff being involved in some aspect of move supervision for collections, kit and equipment.

Atsuko and Erin rotated

Don’t forget – you can also keep up-to-date with our news and events, and enjoy glimpses of some of the treasures in our collections, by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

September update from the Library and Record Centre

Lambeth Palace Library and the Church of England Record Centre regularly embark on new projects and acquire and catalogue new material, from rare books and manuscripts to modern publications.  These posts provide a brief update on some of our latest acquisitions, projects and upcoming events, to keep you up-to-date with our most recent news.

FullSizeRender (18)New books!

Enjoy reading one (or more!) of our recently acquired new books. Highlights include:


Magazines and journals

Lambeth Palace Library also collects a variety of magazines and journals. You are very welcome to visit the Reading Room to consult these too. Some of magazinesour recently received titles include:
Crucible: the journal of Christian social ethics
Faith and worship
The Friends Quarterly
Historic Churches
Journal of Anglican Studies
Journal of Ecclesiastical History
Journal of Paper Conservation
The Library: Transactions of The Bibliographical Society
Privacy & Data Protection

We also receive the following papers and magazines weekly:

newspapersThe Church of England Newspaper
Church Times
The Tablet
TLS (The Times Literary Supplement)


Please note that from October 2019 Lambeth Palace Library will be closed on Fridays. This is to give the staff time to prepare the collections for the move to the new library building. Opening hours will be 10am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 10am to 7.30 pm on Thursday.

Upcoming events

‘Wanting more and wanting better’

traherne socBishop Richard Harries
Monday 23 September, 5pm (entrance not before 4:30pm)

The usual assumption is that Christianity disapproves of us wanting things. Thomas Traherne takes a very different line, saying we don’t want enough. But when we have moved out of innocent bliss into a world of sin and suffering, how do we manage this wanting?

In association with the Traherne Society. All are welcome, but those wishing to attend should book a free ticket at  https://richardharrieslambeth.eventbrite.co.uk or email melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org not later than Tuesday 17 September.

‘William Holcot’s books: recantation and repentance in Reformation England’

Professor John Craig (Simon Fraser University)
Tuesday 26 November, 5:15pm (entrance not before 4:45pm)
William Holcot was a mid-Tudor gentleman, bibliophile and lay reader in the early Elizabethan church, whose experience of recantation during the reign of Queen Mary powerfully shaped his thoughts and actions during the Elizabethan period. Very little survives from Holcot’s life but the few pieces that do enrich our understanding of a particular stream of Elizabethan Protestantism. This event will be followed by a drinks reception.

In association with the University of London seminar on the Religious History of Britain 1500-1800.  All are welcome, but those wishing to attend should book a free ticket at https://johncraiglambeth.eventbrite.co.uk, or email melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org not later than Friday 22 November.

Christmas reception for the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library and their 1488-5jguests

Wednesday 4 December, 6pm (admittance from 5:30pm)

Christmas reception held in the State Drawing Room in Lambeth Palace.

Tickets £10 per head, to include wine and mince pies. To book, please send names in advance to Melissa Harrison, melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org or telephone 020 7898 1400, not later than Friday 22 November.


New Library update

Work on the new library is progressing well and the programme remains on track to complete in April 2020.


From the street, the completed brickwork for the east and west wings are now clearly visible. Scaffold only remains in place to the central tower which will start to be dismantled from October 2019.

Internally, considerable progress has been made. The archive spaces are nearing completion with the final shelving units arriving at the start of the month ready for installation.


The spaces which will be occupied by the staff have also progressed well. Finishes to the floors, ceilings and walls have started over the last period and will continue to the end of the project. Joinery is being put into the Reading Room, so we are now starting to see the wood panelling.

First floor office
First floor office
Reading Room
View from inside the Reading Room
Freezers in cold store
Freezers in the cold store

Externally, an exciting phase will start in the next quarter when the landscaping works for the Palace gardens commence. This will include extensive planting and a wetland habitat. The pond wall will be set out this week, and the excavations of the base of the pond started.


Lambeth Local History Fair

Local History Fair

The Library was thrilled to have a stall at the Lambeth Local History Fair, a now annual event that kicks off Lambeth Heritage Festival, which runs throughout September.  This year the Fair was held in Brixton Tate Libary on Saturday 7th September, and saw dozens of local societies and local history organisations come together to showcase their services, alongside a programme of illustrated talks, tours and walks.  Library staff were pleased to talk to a large number of visitors and let them know how the Library and Record Centre could be useful to their research.

The full programme for the Lambeth Heritage Festival 2019 can be found here.


Archive news

Material catalogued and now made available in recent months has included:

  • Papers of the English Hymnal Company (ref: EHC), 1905-2000.
  • Correspondence regarding the Book of Common Prayer (1928), mainly between Lambeth Palace and Colonel H M Oldham (ref: MS 5149), 1926-1959.
  • Letters and reports to Cyril Eastaugh, Bishop of Peterborough on South Africa (ref: MS 5150), 1965.

The Library’s collections have also been used in a range of recent publications and resources including:

Further content has been added to the Library’s public image management system: http://images.lambethpalacelibrary.org.uk/luna/servlet, including a range of manuscripts (MS 1, MS 284, MS 774, MS 1143, MS 1502, MS 2022, MS 5082) and material from Sion College (Sion L40.2/E25, Sion L40.2/E42, Sion L40.2/E44, Sion L40.2/L2 and Sion L40.2/L7).

MS 774f178v
MS 774, f.178v

In the Conservation studio

Over 30,000 items have been boxed, with a big focus now on protecting CERC collections for the move next year. We are currently working through the procurement process for potential movers and, once awarded, the process of preparing the day-by-day scheduling of the move will begin.  In addition, the team are preparing for the studio move, as well as helping with new library requirements.
Only 217 days until we get the keys to the new building!


Don’t forget – you can also keep up-to-date with our news and events, and enjoy glimpses of some of the treasures in our collections, by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



Photographs of Music

The extract of music today comes from Lambeth Palace MS 457 and consists of four poems with music. As well as studying verse and notation, it will also allow us to look at the use and reuse of parchment and how, with modern technology, we can reconstruct missing or damaged pages in manuscripts. The text is a is a rebound set of three manuscripts dating from the 15th century and earlier and is written on paper and parchment. Aside from the two folios we shall look at the text is non-musical and consists of treatises, liturgical writings, and sermons, including the writings of Jerome and Seneca. Of the two pages containing music notation only one is visible to the naked eye. The other has been scraped away and a commentary on the seven deadly sins has been written over the top (palimpsest). This was a common occurrence in medieval manuscripts, whereby scribes and writers could reuse or correct previous writing by scraping the existing text away from the velum with a small knife and leaving a clear surface to write upon again.

The music itself is in a 13th century non-mensural script, this being literally non-measured notes, where the placement and form of the note indicate pitch but not timing or rhythm. This is not to say of course that there is no way to tell what the rhythm is meant to be. The interpretation relies on our understanding of cultural norms and rhythmic modes, as well as textual analysis looking at the stresses in the syllables and the rhythmic structure of the text. Examples of the rhythmic modes, like harmonic modes but governing rhythm rather than pitch, can be found in France around the 12th century.[i] These examples are attributed to Léonin (1150s-1201) who was a member of the Notre Dame school of Polyphony, which existed from 1160-1250. During this time, he established six underlying pulses or rhythmic modes to guide people in interpreting note values in a given piece of music. How far outside of the Notre Dame school in Paris this travelled is a matter of some contention as is the possibility of other schools using similar principles. That they likely existed can be surmised by non-mensural music that does not conform to his patterns and that was written some distance from Paris. It should be said however that the proliferation of this type of notation does not necessarily equate to multiple schools considering what we know of the movement of people and rapid diffusion of ideas during this period. This was superseded in the 13th as mensural music systems were developed and codified, the most well-known example was by Franco of Cologne who wrote Ars Cantus Mensurabilis in 1250-1280.

It is a common feature however that music based on pre-existing compositions was still written in non-mensural notation even after the 13th century. This is commonly seen for example in transcriptions of troubadour songs. This piece in MS 457 can be clearly defined as non-mensural by the lack of ligatures in the setting and by the positioning of breves and longs above one another where both must have the same value (for more information about this type of notation see A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke. Thomas Morley) Approaching this piece then one can see the limits of our understanding of this type of music. When one approaches with the wrong rhythmical system the carefully prepared dissonances and resolutions of voice leading, something that was very important in this form of music, are lost. This can result in further attempts to ‘correct’ errors in the music, which can then lead to very different interpretations. Examples of the approaches range from syllabic, each syllable having equal value with melasmas being quickened, to entirely unmeasured, the choice being up to the performer. One of the ways musicologists have attempted to reconstruct a more historically accurate basis is to look at instances where both mensural and non-mensural notation is used to depict the same tune.


Figure 1Bnf MS fr. 844 f78v 13century

In this example there is a dance (a vielle) beginning “Tant es gay es avinentz” written in mensural notation. On the right on the third stave down is a troubadour song by Blacasset vegining “Ben volgra que.m vengues mer[c]es” written in non-mensural notation. Both however use the same melody. This raises a whole host of interesting questions, about how one approaches this type of music and why the use of non-mensural notation persisted when more ‘accurate’ notation was available. It has been suggested by some musicologists that the very ambiguity of the notation was the point. Complaints by Elias Salomon in the 1270s, amongst others about church singers retarding, accelerating, anticipating, and improperly phrasing the notes suggest that the practice of treating the written music as a guide rather than prescriptive meant that depicting the exact rhythm was not only not useful but not required. The next question is that if this was the case why then also transcribe this work in mensural notation? The answer, I believe, has to do more with form than historical precedent. The first piece on the page is meant to be a dance. Without a regular rhythm this becomes much more difficult. Whereas for a song, particularly if there is a cultural expectation and performance practice of rhythmic expression, writing something out in strict metric rhythm would be unnecessary.


Returning to the manuscript, having looked at why the style of notation was used and discussed what remains and what does not, we can next consider the application of spectroscopy and the use of non-visible light spectrums when studying medieval or historical manuscripts. This has been revolutionary in what it has allowed us to see. Below are three examples the middle one showing the image as it would appear to the naked eye. The one on the right being a composite of under UV light showing a previously unseen trace of a border. The one on the left demonstrates the effect on pigments of this sort of technology.


In the above images of MS1370 you can clearly see how by viewing the page under different sources of light the image of an erased border can be seen. This is due to the different reactions of ink to different wavelengths of light. Pigments, simplistically, get their colour from the reflection of a certain, or combination of certain, wavelengths of light. The simplest and most common example in manuscripts is the use of carbon, in various forms, in black ink. This means that when looked at under UV or IR light the carbon particles absorb the wavelengths far more than the surrounding parchment. This can reveal text or line drawings that are otherwise obscured either because they have been erased or because they have been covered up. For example, when looking at illuminated pages in a manuscript under IR light the pigments used do not, by and large, absorb the light, thus allowing us to see the black lines beneath where the artist sketched out the design. This can reveal previous ideas or alternative arrangements of the image. Similarly, when the text is viewed under UV light the different pigments reflect differing amounts of UV light. With the right camera and equipment this can be rendered visible and, as you can see, reveal information about the pigments used and how they were applied.


Turning to MS 457, whilst the music on f 192v has been erased it can viewed under UV light showing a continuation of the music underneath the writing. This is done by shining a hand-held UV lamp at the page whilst taking images with the digital camera; a low-tech approach but suitable for our purposes.


With a slightly fuller picture of the work we can see that the music is divided into 5 distinct songs: The first is quite distinct in its rhythmic approach, which can be interpreted from the syllabification of the text and the placement of ligatures. The poem used is metric with a definite rhyme scheme. It is also probably English in origin, owing to the proliferation of thirds and the fact that similar tune has not been found in other continental sources. The work is harmonically interesting with prepared dissonances throughout resolving and reoccurring as the piece progresses


For the second piece the underlying tune is an Agnus trope, a copy of which can be found in a 14th century Sarum missal in the Bodleian (MS Don.b.5, f. 398). The rhythm of the piece is a modification of the duplum mode and lacks the thirds and dissonances of the previous piece. However, since the trope is from the Sarum we can assume the piece is English again.


The third piece of music is again based on a metrical rhyming poem leading one to believe it has a binary structure (aa bb or ab ab). Of interest however is the last five notes of the piece where a new third voice is introduced, giving what is probably an early example of English three voice polyphony


The fourth piece is where things become more difficult. The trope used is incomplete having two lines of music over one line of text. With the piece being through composed, that being music composed with a focus on voice leading and the individual melodic line rather than harmonic patterns, it is likely that the text continued on the next page with fragments of the second and third verses of the trope visible under UV light. Fortunately, the trope is recognisable and exists with different music in other sources. However, unlike the proceeding pieces the work is not metrically balanced and lacks an internal rhyme. This melody, as said, is from an Agnus Dei chant which, in this case, is found throughout England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, leading to clear difficulties in identifying the original piece.


This has hopefully provided a brief introduction into the difficulties in studying early manuscripts and the advantages that modern technology can bring to this process.

[i] (https://earlymusicmuse.com/performingmedievalmusic3of3/


Summer update from the Library and Record Centre

Lambeth Palace Library and the Church of England Record Centre regularly embark on new projects and acquire and catalogue new material, from rare books and manuscripts to modern publications.  These posts provide a brief update on some of our latest acquisitions, projects and upcoming events, to keep you up-to-date with our most recent news.

New books!

Enjoy reading one (or more!) of our recently acquired new books. Highlights include:

Magazines and journals

magazinesLambeth Palace Library also collects a variety of magazines and journals. You are very welcome to visit the Reading Room to consult these too. Some of our recently received titles include:

Anglican and Episcopal History
Church Monuments
English Historical Review
Families First
Historical Research
Modern Believing
New Directions
Parliamentary History
The Prayer Book Society Journal

newspapersWe also receive the following papers and magazines weekly:

The Church of England Newspaper
Church Times
TLS (The Times Literary Supplement)

Upcoming events

Lambeth Palace Garden Open Days with Great Hall entry and exhibition

Every first Friday of the month until September, 12 noon to 3pm
Next Open Day: Friday 2 August 


An opportunity to visit the Palace’s beautiful gardens and see the progress of the new Library building! Refreshments and entertainment are provided in the garden and there will be plants for sale. The 17th century Great Hall will also be open throughout the Open Days, with a chance to view displays of some of the Library’s collections. Do come along and bring your friends and family!

There is an entrance fee of £5, which will go to a chosen charity each month, and there is no need to book.

New Library update

As of July, the Library project remains on time and on budget. The Archbishop topped out the building in May.


The brickwork is nearing completion and is gradually being revealed as the scaffolding comes down.


Over the summer and Autumn most of the work is concentrated on the inside of the building as all the mechanical work progresses inside.


Staff are now heavily involved in planning for the big move of all the archives from the Library and CERC which will be taking place between June to December 2020.

Archive news

Clare Brown awarded The Lanfranc Award for Education and Scholarship

clareThe Library is delighted that Mrs Clare Brown, Archivist, was awarded The Lanfranc Award for Education and Scholarship by Archbishop Welby at the Lambeth Awards 2019, for her work in guiding readers through the archives of the Church of England, and for her exhibitions and scholarly expertise in support of Lambeth Palace Library and three Archbishops of Canterbury. In April, we bid Clare a very long and happy retirement after seventeen years of service at the Library!

Clare’s contribution over the years is too vast to summarise briefly, but we hope to give a sense of her many accomplishments. On joining the Library, Clare completed cataloguing of the papers of Archbishop Ramsey, and then led cataloguing of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) archive. She led work on the collaborative projects on the Library’s important collection of Greek manuscripts, with an exhibition in 2006 and the launch of the catalogue in 2016. She contributed to understanding of the Canterbury Archbishops’ Registers alongside work undertaken by the Borthwick Institute on the York Registers. Her knowledge of the history of ecumenical relations contributed to displays for visitors to the Archbishop from other churches, and her extensive knowledge of the collections and of Church of England history have benefited many Library readers and NCIs colleagues over the years. This is evidenced, not least, by the amount of enquiries Clare answered during her time at the Library – almost 3,700!

We will all greatly miss Clare’s incredible knowledge, helpfulness, her willingness to share her expertise with Library readers and colleagues alike, and especially her sense of humour.

Archival collections news

Papers from 1988 have been released for research, including some 500 files from the papers of Archbishop Runcie and further material on Anglican-Roman Catholic relations from the records of ARCIC II. Descriptions can be searched on the Library’s online archives catalogue.

Further newly-catalogued material includes records of the Lambeth Diploma and Vacation Term for Biblical Study, two initiatives founded in the early 20th century to provide theological and scriptural training for women. Library staff are also adding detail to descriptions of various series of news cuttings and photographs relating to Archbishops Benson (cartoon pictured below), Davidson, Lang and Fisher, which complement correspondence and other papers in the main series. Photographs of Lambeth Palace and garden by Sue Snell are also now catalogued.


An annotated Bible belonging to John Taylor Smith, Bishop of Sierra Leone, was donated to the Library. The Library also received a set of playing cards produced by the Mothers’ Union.

Watercolours from the Library collections can now been seen on the new Watercolour World website.


Recent blog posts have covered a printed work on music from the Sion College collection; a further report on records of the Court of Arches; and a conference on Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.

A digitised version of Herbert Bosham’s life of Thomas Becket incorporating folios from the Library’s MS 5048 detached from the parent manuscript held in Arras is now available.


The 100th anniversary of the Church Assembly, predecessor of General Synod, occurs in 2019. Aside from the main archive held at the Church of England Record Centre, there are further voluminous sources in the Library collections.

An edition of the household accounts of Archbishop Laud has been published; the original document is held at the National Archives, but complements sources relating to Laud in the Library collections. Readers may be interested in a Salvation Army blog post on the history of Christianity in China; the Library also holds material on the church in China.

In the Conservation Studio

Earlier in the year, a group of students from the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) visited the Library as part of their ‘Material Witness‘ training programme, which examines physical objects in the digital age. The visit was organised by Teresa Lane, PhD student at the Courtauld Institute of Art, who recently completed a six-month CHASE internship working on the Library’s illuminated manuscripts. It gave participants a behind-the-scenes look in the conservation studio and an opportunity to learn about the different approaches and techniques involved in preserving fragile books.


Lara Artemis, Senior Conservator at the Library, led the sessions on medieval manuscripts, examining their materiality and chemistry, as well as their history and provenance. The group were shown the stunningly illuminated 13th-century Lambeth Apocalypse (MS 209) – one of the Library’s treasures – and looked at the kinds of pigments used by the artists. The students even had a go at mixing pigments and painting their own illuminations on vellum afterwards!


The photographs above are taken from the Material Witness blog about the student’s visit to Lambeth Palace Library, which gives plenty more fascinating insights into manuscripts and their conservation.

In other news, we continue to make strides in our boxing and preparing the collections for the move. We’ve now completed around 25,000 boxes for vulnerable items in the collection, including completing the job of cleaning, measuring, boxing and organising the vulnerable Sion College Library collections stored in the Blore, one of our Library storerooms.


Sion College Founder’s Day at Lambeth Palace

Fellows and members of Sion College celebrated its Founder’s Day at Lambeth Palace on Tuesday 9 July. This year’s event included a lecture by Baroness Manningham-Buller, former Director General of MI5, who spoke on the topic of “Intelligence and Ethics”. Evening prayer in the Chapel was followed by a drinks reception in the Great Hall where attendees were able to view an exhibition of some of the newly catalogued items from the Sion College collection, now housed in Lambeth Palace Library. Also on display were books and manuscripts relating to the lecture’s theme, including Reginald Scot’s Discovery of witchcraft (1654) in which the author denounced the prosecution and torture of those accused of witchcraft as un-Christian and irrational, and a 1584 caricature of Thomas Norton, whose ruthless and enthusiastic punishment of English Catholics led to his being nicknamed the “Rackmaster-General”.


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