Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Exhibitions’ Category

On Friday, January 15, 2016, the St Augustine Gospels- a 6th century gospel book that is reputed to have been sent with St Augustine on his mission from Pope Gregory the Great to convert the English people- was brought from Cambridge to Canterbury Cathedral for the day to serve as inspiration to the assembled Primates at an extraordinary meeting of the Anglican leadership. The goal was for the manuscript to serve as a physical reminder of the core principles of the church; based on long tradition, the words of the Gospels themselves, and the faith that unites all believers.

Portrait of St Luke (CCC MS 286, f. 129v)

Portrait of St Luke (CCC MS 286, f. 129v)

 

 

The visit was in conjunction with the loan of an ivory crozier which is venerated as a relic of Augustine’s mentor, St (formerly Pope) Gregory, from the monastery of San Gregorio al Celio in Rome. These two items were displayed together in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral during the closing service of the meeting. Following the ceremony, Parker Library staff gave informative talks on the manuscript in the Cathedral library, which were attended by Cathedral staff and visitors. This was an extremely rare opportunity to see the 1,400 year old manuscript out from under glass, as it is typically only available to view in its case in the Parker Library exhibition on one day a month.

The gospel book, also known as CCCC MS 286, was initially kept at St. Augustine’s abbey in Canterbury and venerated as a relic of the saint. After the dissolution of the monasteries, it was brought to Canterbury Cathedral. Decades later, Matthew Parker, (then Archbishop of Canterbury), was given a mandate by Elizabeth I to collect ancient books and documents from the realm, with which to study the history of Christianity in England and shore up the tenets of the new Anglican church. He proceeded to collect a large number of manuscripts from Canterbury Cathedral, including the Gospels, a collection which now forms the core of the Parker Library, which has been the home of the gospel book since Matthew Parker bequeathed it to his old College in 1575.

Further details are available here.

Special thanks are due to the incredibly welcoming and efficient staff of Canterbury Cathedral, whose kindness to the Parker Library staff (all a bit tired from their 5AM start from Cambridge!) really made the visit a success.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

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

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

Parker Library interior. Copyright Andrew Houston

Read Full Post »

William StukeleyCopyright National Portrait Gallery

William Stukeley, F.R.S.
Copyright National Portrait Gallery

Almost 400 years after the death of William Stukeley there is a resurgence of interest in his life and work. Stukeley studied medicine at Corpus, and was a contemporary and friend of Stephen Hales, inventor of the ventilator. His room at Corpus was, Stukeley records, “generally hung round with Guts, stomachs, bladders, preparations of parts and drawings… I sometimes surprised the whole college with a sudden explosion; I cur’d a lad once of an ague with it by a fright”. The Parker Library has a dozen or so Stukeley manuscripts, including notebooks and drawings, bought from the Sotheby’s sale of February 1963.

Stukeley was a member of the Royal Society, Royal College of Physicians, and the re-formed      Society of Antiquaries, and numbered amongst his friends and acquaintances Hans Sloane,     Edmond Halley, and Sir Isaac Newton. He travelled far and wide, and his best known works,  Abery and Stonehenge, resulted from extensive work on the stone circles there.

Stukeley was a distant cousin of the Stucley family of Hartland Abbey in Devon, where an exhibition, “William Stukeley, Saviour of Stonehenge” opens in May.  Have a look at Lady Stucley’s blog about Hartland Abbey here.

Stukeley medals (1)In the Modern Archive here in College are two medals, one with the head of William Stukeley, on the other, a picture of Stonehenge, together with Stukeley’s death date.  Because the Corpus medals are cast, rather than struck from a die – which is unusual for the time – they may be devices from which a medal, now in the British Museum, was made.  The Corpus medals are cast, rather than struck from a die, which is unusual for that time.

Read Full Post »

Dr de Hamel’s illustrated talk on the Parker Library will take place in the Keynes Hall, King’s College  at 10.00am on Thursday 28th March. There’s no need to book – just turn up at the Porters’ Lodge at King’s College a little before 10.00 o’clock.

The Parker Library will be open from 11.00am until 4.00pm, with an exhibition of manuscripts relating to archbishops. It will include the St Augustine Gospels, recently returned from the enthronement of the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Read Full Post »

As part of the “Easter at King’s” festival of services and concerts for Holy Week and Easter, Dr de Hamel will give an illustrated talk about the Parker Library. This will take place at 10.00am, on Thursday 28th March, in King’s College. The exact venue is still to be confirmed, but we will post details on the two college websites and this blog as soon  as we know.

The Parker Library will then be open for visitors from 11.00am – 4.00pm; the exhibition is free and there is no need to book. The exhibition will focus on archbishops, and will include the sixth century Gospel book which is used in the service at the enthronement of each new Archbishop of Canterbury. The enthronement of the new Archbishop, the Rt Rev. Justin Welby, will take place on March 21st in Canterbury Cathedral, and will be broadcast live on the BBC.

The Dean of Canterbury holds the "Canterbury Gospels", as Archbishop Rowan Williams kisses the ancient book

The Dean of Canterbury holds the “Canterbury Gospels”, as Archbishop Rowan Williams kisses the ancient book. (By permission of James Rosenthal/Anglican World.)

Clergy show their support for the Archbishop. (By permission of James Rosenthal/Anglican World.)

Clergy show their support for the Archbishop. (By permission of James Rosenthal/Anglican World.)

Read Full Post »

Today is Candlemas which serves as the secondary feast-day of Corpus Christi College. The primary feast-day is of course Corpus Christi, generally in June. The Candlemas connection comes about because the college was founded in 1352 by a united guild of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded about a century before the college and celebrated its feast on Candlemas day.

To celebrate the feast, two of the items currently on exhibition relate to the guild. The first is a charter dated 1306 issued by Edward I confirming a grant of land in central Cambridge given to the guild by one of its members, Adam Elyot.

Charter of Edward I

Charter of Edward I (XXVII.16,1-2)

The charter still has its copy of Edward’s Great Seal.

Great Seal of Edward I

Great Seal of Edward I

In 1350, the guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken over by the new guild of Corpus Christi which had been set up by Cambridge townspeople with the express purpose of founding a new college. To understand why that might have happened, take a look at the other document on show:

Bede roll of the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Bede roll of the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This is an extract of the bede roll of the guild, listing all the members of the guild who had died and were to be remembered in the prayers of the brethren. Names were added over the years but then, at the end of the roll are squeezed in the names of 92 members who died of the plague in 1349-50. At least one-third of the population of Cambridge died in the space of nine months and the guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary had very few members left to pray for their predecessors – but valuable land holdings in central Cambridge. This seems to be the reason behind the merger of the two guilds.

Within two years, the united guild had succeeded in founding a college and dissolved itself, handing over all its assets, including property and archives, to the college. The college also took on and has maintained the guild’s responsibility to pray for its proto-benefactors – including Adam Elyot, whose name can be seen on the bede roll between the splendidly named Argent Wolleward and Willelmus le spicer and his wife Elena.

Read Full Post »

Although the Parker Library contains hundreds of manuscripts given by Parker to Corpus, he did give manuscripts to other people and institutions. Inspired by Cambridge University Library’s Shelf Lives exhibition, I thought I’d look at some of the ‘ones that got away’.

Perhaps the most significant Parker manuscripts elsewhere are those in the University Library, one of which is on display in the Shelf Lives exhibition. The University Library suffered greatly during the Reformation period due to neglect, theft and destruction. In 1574 Andrew Perne, the Master of Peterhouse and bibliophile, undertook to restore the University Library and called upon his old friend Matthew Parker, by then Archbishop of Canterbury, for support. As well as writing letters to others soliciting donations, Parker gave 25 manuscripts of his own to the University Library along with 75 printed books.

In many cases these manuscripts contain ‘duplicate’ copies of works found in Parker Library manuscripts, though of course, each manuscript copy of a text is unique. Of the six Anglo-Saxon manuscripts which Parker gave to the UL, MS Ii.2.4 contains a copy of Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care translated into Old English, as does CCCC MS 12; MS Ii.2.11 contains a West Saxon translation of the gospels, as does CCCC MS 140; Ælfric’s Grammar and Glossary are found in both CUL MS Hh.1.10 and CCCC MS 449; both CUL Kk.3.18 and CCCC MS 12 contain Bede’s Ecclesiastical History in Old English. The other two Anglo-Saxon manuscripts Parker gave to the UL (Ii.4.6 and Ii.1.33) principally contain collections of homilies, as do CCCC MSS 162, 178, 188, 198, 302, 303, 419, and 421.

An even closer relationship exists between CCCC MSS 66 and 66A and CUL MS Ff.1.27 – not the same text this time but they were originally the same book(s). Parker obtained two volumes  which mostly contained histories and some travel accounts, one originally from the Cistercian abbey of Sawley in Yorkshire and the other from the Benedictine abbey at Bury St Edmunds. He took both of them to pieces and rearranged their contents into two volumes; broadly speaking each contained the first half of one MS and the second half of the other. He then donated one of these composite volumes to CUL and the other to the Parker Library. Our volume has subsequently been rebound in two parts, MS 66 which contains half of the Sawley MS and MS 66A, half of the Bury MS.

If Corpus felt the loss of ‘the ones that got away’, insult seems to have been added to injury. As J. C. T. Oates records, Corpus agreed to repair and maintain ‘with clapses and byndinge necessarie’ the books that Parker gave to the UL, on pain of a fine of 3s. 4d per week. (See Cambridge University Library: A History. From the Beginnings to the Copyright Act of Queen Anne (Cambridge, 1986), p. 110.) There’s no record of such repairs even being carried out; I can only imagine how much we now owe the UL in arrears! Perhaps we’ll have to give them another manuscript in payment.

More information

For more about Parker and his books, see the invaluable Matthew Parker and his books by former Parker Librarian R I. Page (Kalamazoo, MI: Western Institute Publications, 1983).

More details concerning the books Parker gave to the UL can be found in M. R. James’ catalogue of the Parker Library and in E. Leedham-Green and D. McKitterick, ‘A Catalogue of Cambridge University Library, 1583’, in Books and Collectors 1200-1700: Essays presented to Andrew Watson, ed. by James P. Carley and Colin G. C. Tite (London, British Library, 1997), pp. 153-235.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »