The Broughton Missal: Online

One of our most important acquisitions of recent years, the Broughton Missal, has now been digitised and is now online. It is a rare surviving manuscript of the text and music for Roman Catholic church services, according to the Use of York, with adaptations reflecting the practice and interpretations which developed at York Minster during the Middle Ages. York missals are extremely rare compared with Sarum Use missals, which were used in the south of England. Prior to the Reformation, most parish churches in northern England would have owned least one York Use missal, but now only 12 examples are known to survive anywhere in the world and several of these are incomplete.
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The Missal is beautifully decorated throughout with initials in gold, blue and red.


Each one of these manuscripts is different, ranging in date from the 13th to the 15th century, and each has its own story to tell, offering new insights into the liturgical practice in the York diocese, the way in which medieval church services were conducted and how they were experienced by the congregation. The Broughton Missal, for example, gives detailed information about the colours to be worn by the different ranks of clergy participating in the Mass. However, it also contains annotations detailing gifts to Broughton church and notes on the building and its maintenance. For Lambeth Palace Library this extraordinarily rich historical document now represents an invaluable source of information about pre-Reformation life and religious practice in a northern English village.

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The pages of the Broughton Missal were used to record various parish matters, including repairs to the building and gifts to the Church


It is still in its original late medieval binding and is written on parchment in brown ink. Its penwork and decoration is English and of high quality, with capital letters, rubrics (instructions for services) and major feasts picked out in red.  The manuscript is decorated throughout with large illuminated initials in gold, blue and red, with elaborate borders around the pages. It is not known where the missal was made but it may have been produced in York, which was developing as a centre of the commercial book trade at this time.

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A page with a Mass for the Pope crossed out showing that the book continued to be in use during the Reformation


The Broughton Missal was in use in the parish church of All Hallows, Broughton (three miles north of Preston, Lancashire), for at least 150 years, spanning the English Reformation. The various notes and alterations written on the text, including replacing mentions of the Pope with references to the King, provide an important witness to the religious and cultural life of a parish in the north-west of England during that period of upheaval. It remained in the church until the mid-16th century, and from about 1845 became the property of a Lancashire family, through which it has passed down the generations. It was the last known example still to be in private hands and is the first to be acquired by a British institution since 1932.  Purchase of this manuscript was supported by the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, to mark the 50th anniversary of their foundation, with further contributions from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries, and the B.H. Breslauer Foundation. We are grateful to them all for their help.

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The Broughton Missal retains its original medieval binding



Further reading

Francis Carolus Eeles, On a fifteenth-century York missal formerly used at Broughton-in-Amounderness, Lancashire. Manchester : Chetham Society, 1935.

Matthew Cheung Salisbury, The use of York : characteristics of the medieval liturgical office in York. York : Borthwick Institute, 2012.

Mass and parish in late medieval England : the use of York. Reading : Spire Books, 2005.

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  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.