France, 15th.

Horae. France, 15th.

In the Middle Ages, if you had enough money to buy only one book, you would have bought a Book of Hours, a small volume containing the Christian prayers lay people recited at various times of the day. The popularity of Books of Hours marked the advent of two significant social changes, the growth of literacy, and the personalisation of religious practice. This Book of Hours, the Office or Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was written in France for use in the diocese of Rouen in the late fifteenth century, apparently for the woman who is represented in the picture of the Virgin and child shown above. The manuscript was in the possession of Charles Boddam, of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1782 and was subsequently acquired by Thomas Phillips who presented to St David’s College Lampeter in 1846.