Manuscripts

We possess eight medieval manuscripts, some of them dating back to the 13th century. 

The oldest item in the library’s collection is the famous Monk's Blood manuscript, produced around 1200 and said to be stained with the blood of the monks of Bangor-is-y-coed.  Although this is a myth, the work, a fragment of Peter of Capua’s Alphabetum in artem sermocinandiis one of the earliest experiments in alphabetization

The 1279 Norman Vulgate Bible  was produced at and for the Monastery of St Pierre-sur-Dives in Normandy.  In an unusually long colophon, the scribe gives his own name, G. de Fécamp and that of the abbot, Jacobus, (who presumably provided the money for the work).   De Fécamp, a lame monk, worked on the volume for over three years.  Many of the capitals represent the faces of monks; a number of these caricatures have serpents’ tongues coming from their mouths.  Probably forty leaves are missing, including everything between Isaiah 42:2 and Jeremiah 13:17. 

There are two books of hours.  The earlier, from Italy and of the use of Rome, consists of the Calendar, the Hours of the Virgin, the Hours of the Passion, the Office for the Dead, the Penitential Psalms with Litany, the Gradual Psalms, and the Hours of the Cross.  It was probably produced in the first half of the fifteenth century.  Unfortunately, five or six of the leaves bearing miniatures have been removed.  However, the quality of the illumination is superb. 

The Boddam Book of Hours, previously the property of Charles Boddam, seems to have been produced for use in the diocese of Rouen towards the end of the fifteenth century.  The manuscript includes fourteen pictures within architectural frames. 

Ordinale sororum ordinis sancti Salvatoris de Vadstena came from the nunnery at Vadstena, southern Sweden, motherhouse of the Brigittine order and centre of 15th century Swedish literary production.  The scribe was a nun, Christina Hansdotter Brask, and the work was produced in or shortly after 1481.  Vadstena Abbey was a double monastery, with 60 nuns working alongside 25 priests and male religious.  The sisters became known for their work as copyists and producers of ecclesiastical textiles; the names of eight copyists are known.  Christina spent 62 years in the monastery and the range of her production was wide.  As her handwriting, sometimes signed, appears in about 20 preserved manuscripts, it is possible to trace the way it changed over the course of her life. 

We have a Franciscan calendar, probably written in the southern Low Countries for male Franciscan use in the district of Liège or Maastricht.  The use is that of Rome.  Although the illustrations are few and crude, it is interesting as an example of an ordinary service book in everyday use.  The scribe named himself as John.  It has kept its original binding; three rows of five of a stamp of a pelican form a rectangular panel.   

There is a German mid-fifteenth century copy of Flores Psalmoruma Latin commentary on the Psalms originally compiled in the twelfth century.  This is followed by some short theological treatises.  At the end of the volume are bound six leaves from an early twelfth-century Missal; these were used in the original binding.  The volume has been signed by two previous owners, Anthonye Gatonbye and H. Dodwell. 

The last manuscript was written and illuminated in France, towards the end of the fifteenth century.  It contains a collection of private family prayers and suffrages.  The arms of the family figure prominently in the illustrations.  These arms are not depicted accurately or even consistently, but they appear to be those of the Rochechouart family.  Some of the illustrations have been damaged, but otherwise their quality is good.