The Parker Library was turned into a party space last week when we held a book launch. Dr Mara Kalnins, Life Fellow of the College, and formerly University Reader in Modern English Literature, is the author of The Ancient Amber Routes: Travels from Riga to Byzantium. It is part tourist guide, part travelogue, but mainly a cultural history of the ancient amber routes and a catalogue of amber artefacts.
There is no British distributor, but the book can be purchased from The Baltic Shop for £40, inclusive of postage and packing. Alternatively, please email Dr Kalnins, who will arrange to have a copy sent to you.
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MS 93, f. 132r
This is the Ordinal for use by the choir of Exeter Cathedral, with instructions for chants and music prescribed for use in the Mass and daily offices at Exeter, as ordained by John Grandison, bishop of Exeter, 1327-69. The manuscript dates from the beginning of the fifteenth century, but the lavish illuminated borders have been further enhanced later in the century. The initials “W.S” my allude to William Steele, archdeacon of Totnes, c. 1370. The Calendar of the manuscript includes, as a “major double” festival, the dedication of Exeter Cathedral, commemorated there annually on 21 November.
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One of the more unusual requests we have had at the Parker Library recently is for the Wilkins Room to be used as the backdrop for a photographic portrait. Kate Peters and her photography team, Dave and Selina, arrived at Corpus with a vast array of lighting and equipment to capture a portrait of Professor Susan Rankin. Professor Rankin has worked extensively on manuscripts in the Parker collection, and recently produced a beautiful facsimile of the Winchester Troper (CCCC MS 473). We were flattered and delighted that she chose to use the Parker as the setting for her portrait; part of a new commission celebrating the achievements of four female Fellows from Emmanuel College. We are very much looking forward to seeing the final result!
Kate Peters capturing Professor Rankin with the Winchester Troper
An unusal sight in the Library of a whole table set up by the make-up artist
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MS 79, f. 210r
Bells were the most widely-heard musical isntruments of the mIddle Ages, ringing loudly form belfries and church towers. For many people, bells were the only available measurements of the passage of time, and peals of bells marked great festivals and public occasions. This is from the Pontifical of Guy de Mohun, bishop of St Davids 1397-1407, showing here the service for blessing bells. An acolyte holds the book as the bishop raises his right hand. The silver bells are suspended in the windows of the belfry. The manuscript was probably begun for Guy de Mohun, who was consecrated bisop on 8 September 1398. Parker Library MS 79, f. 210r.
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MS 253, f. 140v
This English Romanesque manuscript contains several texts by Augustine of Hippo (354-430). Towards the end, a late twelfth-century hand has added a sequence, or hymn, for the feast of Saint Augustine, “Interni festi gaudia, nostra sonet armonia…”, ‘At the joy of our own festival, our song rings forth…’ sometimes attributed, probably wrongly, to the Augustinian canon, Andrew of St-Victor (d. 1175). This is an extremely early example of musical notes on a stave. The feast of Saint Augustine is on 28 August. Parker Library MS 253, f. 140v.
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Open Cambridge, an annual event, this year runs from Friday 13 – Sunday 15 September, and is an opportunity to visit places in Cambridge which are not normally accessible to the public. The programme of events has now been published, and booking starts mid-August.
Taylor Library exterior
Both Taylor and Parker libraries will be taking part this year, and will be open on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. There’s no need to book for these; just turn up!
Parker Library interior. Copyright Andrew Houston
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MS 16, f. 152v
A whole municipal band of musicians are crowded onto the back of an elephant here, including two trumpeters, a drummer, and a boy piper, as well as the Magister bestie (‘Master of the beast’) at the front ringing a great bell. The occasion was the return from the Crusades by Prince Richard of Cornwall (1209-1272), brother of Henry III of England and also of Isabella, wife of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor 1220-1250. As Richard passed through Cremona in July 1241 he was welcomed by an elephant, which had been given to Frederick II in 1229 by the Sultan of Egypt. On arrival in England, Prince Richard described the extraordinary event to Matthew Paris (c. 1189-1259), artist monk of Saint Albans, who drew this picture in the margin of his autograph Chronica Maiora, or ‘Greater History’.
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