This elegantly ornamented manuscript hymnal dates from the second half of the fifteenth century in England, and was likely to be intended for the use of the brothers at Syon Abbey. Written in Latin and Greek on one hundred and twenty-two vellum leaves, it has marginal annotations in several different hands which comment on the text, poetic metre and authors of the hymns. Major initials are in blue ink, while much of the decoration and minor initials, as well as the staves, are in red.
The contemporary binding is the work of the ‘Caxton bindery’, which was at work in Westminster until c. 1510 and bound printed material by Caxton and his successor Wynkyn de Worde. Thirty-six bindings are known to have come from the shop, of which only eight are of manuscript material.
The binding consists of brown leather over wooden boards, blind tooled to a panel design. The border of the panel is filled with interlaced crescent tools and the panel is divided by fillets into lozenges containing square floral tools, and half lozenges containing fleur-de-lis tools. There are remnants of two pairs of clasps. The volume was re-backed and repaired in the nineteenth century by W.H. Woods and Co of Manchester.
The manuscript was acquired by Chetham’s in 1870 as part of the collection of John Byrom (1692-1763). Click here for more about the Byrom Collection.