48
48
Rental of the lands of Worcester Priory, in Latin and Anglo-Saxon, decorated manuscript on vellum [England (Worcester), dated 1240, with a few additions to 1285 and 1365]
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 110,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
48
Rental of the lands of Worcester Priory, in Latin and Anglo-Saxon, decorated manuscript on vellum [England (Worcester), dated 1240, with a few additions to 1285 and 1365]
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 110,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Rental of the lands of Worcester Priory, in Latin and Anglo-Saxon, decorated manuscript on vellum [England (Worcester), dated 1240, with a few additions to 1285 and 1365]
78 leaves (with one original flyleaf at each end), 240mm. by 150mm., thirteenth-century pagination on rectos and versos from pp.1-24, subsequent foliation from fols.25-84, subsequent pagination on rectos in another hand from pp.86-96, wanting three leaves after p.24, otherwise complete, collation: i12, ii9 (i-iii wanting), iii-v12, vi11 (blank cancelled at end), vii10, two columns, 34 lines written in a number of English secretarial hands, written space 200mm. by 120mm., capitals stroked in red, rubrics in red, paragraph marks and 2-line initials in red or blue, those on pp.1-24 with contrasting pen-flourishing, prickings preserved in margins, vellum cockled, with stains especially at beginning, edges with rodent damage, original binding of thick brown leather covers sewn on four leather thongs, the uppermost thong broken, otherwise in good condition 

 


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Catalogue Note

The present manuscript is evidently the long-lost exemplar of the fourteenth-century rental still held by the Dean and Chapter, Worcester (their muniments, A.2: Davis no.1077, that ed. by Hale, Registrum sive Liber Irrotularius et Consuetudinarius Prioratus Beatæ Mariæ Wigorniensis, 1865). It was not listed in Davis’s Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain and Ireland, 1958, but has been added to the revised edition of 2010 (Davis no.1077.1). Related materials from the eleventh and twelfth centuries survive in the British Library (Davis nos.1068-9) and others dating from the thirteenth century until the dissolution of the Priory in 1540 remain in Worcester (Davis nos.1070-3 and 1075-8). The present manuscript is the only document of its kind from the priory that remains in private hands, and to the best of our knowledge it is the first to be offered on the open market in nearly a quarter of a millennium. 

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).

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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London