The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts

November 2010
28 colour, 16 black and white, 3 line illustrations
206 pages
31.2x23.7 cm
Manuscript Culture in the British Isles
ISBN: 9781903153345
Format: Hardback
York Medieval Press

The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts

Texts, Owners and Readers

Edited by Ralph Hanna, Thorlac Turville-Petre

A survey of the history, holdings, decoration, and conservation of one of England's finest medieval libraries, with full catalogue.
The Willoughby family, from Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, built up an extensive medieval library, including the notable Wollaton Antiphonal; theirs is the largest surviving library gathered by a gentry family of the period, the product of a single acquisitive burst, beginning around 1460 and mainly completed at about the time of the Dissolution in 1540. The manuscripts remain unique because of the very substantial core which survives more or less in situ, together with a huge collection of family archives, at the University of Nottingham, just a few miles from their original home.
This book focuses upon the ten manuscripts now in the Wollaton Library Collection as well as the famous Antiphonal. Essays explore the history of the library and the Willoughby family, the books of Sir Thomas Chaworth, the art and function of the Antiphonal, the works of pastoral instruction, the decoration of the French manuscripts (including the earliest fully illustrated manuscript of romances), the Confessio Amantis, and the conservation of the collection. The essays are followed by a full catalogue of the Wollaton Library Collection as well as of manuscripts and early printed books now dispersed as far afield as Tokyo and New York.

Contributors: Alixe Bovey, Gavin Cole, Ralph Hanna, Dorothy Johnston, Rob Lutton, Derek Pearsall, Alison Stones, Thorlac Turville-Petre.

Table of Contents

The History of a Family Collection - Ralph Hanna and Thorlac Turville-Petre
Sir Thomas Chaworth's Books - Thorlac Turville-Petre and Gavin Cole
The Wollaton Antiphonal: Kinship and Commemoration - Alixe Bovey
Two French Manuscripts: WLC/LM/6 and WLC/LM/7 - Alison Stones
The Wollaton Hall Gower Manuscript (WLC/LM/8) Considered in the Context of Other Manuscripts of the Confessio Amantis - Derek Pearsall
Vice, Virtue and Contemplation: The Willoughbys' Religious Books and Devotional Interests - Rob Lutton
Minding and Mending: Issues in Curating the Medieval Manuscripts - Dorothy Johnston
Catalogue - Ralph Hanna and Thorlac Turville-Petre
Index to Manuscripts


[A] fascinating study of the manuscripts and early printed books acquired and commissioned by the Willoughby family [..]. The authors and editors are to be commended for the richness of their insights into the Willoughbys and their books [...] a superb book, one that well illustrates how much is to be gained from the interdisciplinary study of medieval manuscripts in their wider textual, physical, visual, and cultural contexts. SPECULUM

An important book that for the first time supplies a coherent picture of one of late-medieval England's most significant privately assembled libraries. [...] Beyond providing us with the ability to reconstruct a detailed picture of gentry collecting practices, this useful volume also helps better contextualise private, lay reading habits and tastes. SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNAL

The Wollaton Library Collection deserves the thorough and rather splendid format and scholarship provided by the publication of this book. [...] A fascinating and splendid production. JOURNAL OF THE EARLY BOOK SOCIETY

[A] handsome illustrated collection focusing on the extensive regional gentry library accumulated by the Willoughby family at Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire, c.1460-c.1540. YEARS WORK IN ENGLISH STUDIES

[An] excellent and fascinating volume [which] offers a valuable insight into something very rare: a whole medieval collection. CILIP RARE BOOKS NEWSLETTER

The editors are to be congratulated on bringing together historical essays, conservation studies, and catalogue entries in a single, richly illustrated volume, finely produced by York Medieval Press. LIBRARY & INFORMATION HISTORY

Makes for enjoyable and instructive reading to anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the world of English medieval manuscripts. MANUSCRIPTS

The knowledge and precision of the compilers ensure that this work will stand the test of searching scrutiny. TLS

Impressive in size and content. [It] will prove a valuable addition to the library of anyone interested in the consumption of texts by a gentry family in the later Middle Ages. AMARC NEWSLETTER

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