This rental was probably compiled for Prior William of Bedford (1224-42; see R.R. Darlington, ‘The Cartulary of Worcester Cathedral Priory’, Pipe Roll Society, 76, NS.38, London, 1968, p.xii) alongside another now Worcester, Dean and Chapter, Mun.A.4 (Davis no.1070). It contains the descriptive rental of the possessions of the house, including the spiritual revenues derived from churches and tithes and the temporal revenues derived from estates. The latter are supported by copies of the charters of the priory, most notably an otherwise unattested copy of a charter purporting to have been issued by King Edgar in 964 (pp.14-16 here; Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters, 1968, no.731) with single words of Anglo-Saxon in the explanatory form “quod anglice scypfylleð” and a 7-line section in Anglo-Saxon preceding the witnesses (see back cover). It may be based in part on authentic materials (Harmer, Anglo-Saxon Writs, 1952, p.267 n.2), and certainly the community did own some of the properties cited before the Norman Conquest, but the form it is in now dates to the twelfth century. Writing in this language did not in fact stop at the Norman Conquest but continued through the twelfth century, albeit dwindling in popularity (see Swann and Trehearne, Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century, 2000). Thus, the author of this text may well have been among the last to write and fully understand his Germanic mother-tongue, and it is conceivable that he was a child in 1066 and wrote this text in his old age.
Manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon have been eagerly collected into institutional libraries for several centuries and only a handful of these have been offered in public sale in the last century (see the 2 fragments sold in our rooms, 8 July 2014, lot 1). Manuscripts containing even just a word or two of this language are now of near-legendary rarity, and of significant value even when they postdate the Anglo-Saxon era by some centuries (cf. the charter dated 1259 with a single line of 23 words in this language sold in the Schøyen sale in our rooms, 10 July 2012, lot 38, for £42,000 hammer, now British Library).
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