Wednesday 26 December 2012

An Unknown MS from Nostell Priory

While in Los Angeles this summer I enquired of several local institutions about their holdings, and got a very helpful response from Emma Roberts at the Los Angeles Public Library, who sent me pictures and other information about their only medieval manuscript. Before I left LA I was able to spend an hour examining and photographing it.

The volume consists of a front flyleaf and a back pastedown; one quire of 8 leaves; one partial quire of 6 leaves; and 12 more individual leaves, some of them consecutive, others isolated, in the remains of its medieval oak binding:

The front flyfleaf has list of contents indicating what was on the leaves now missing:

“In hoc volumine (con)tinent(ur)
Vet(us) Ada(m) & Nov(us) ada(m) in arbore.
Tractat(us) de voto nazareor(um).
Tractat(us) de edific(a)c(i)o(n)e altar(is) &
de Instrumentis –”

And it has an ownership inscription of Nostell Priory, Yorkshire:

“de S(an)c(t)o Oswaldo. de Nostel.”

Perhaps part of the reason that its provenance had not previously been recognised was because the inscription had been misunderstood by a previous owner:
"Manuscript of Oswald, King of the Northumbrians b. 604, d. 642"

The pencil price-code ("cxcx") and price ("[$]175") in the upper right corner of this paper slip is probably that of Dawson's Book Shop, Los Angeles.

No other manuscript is known to survive from the Augustinian priory of Nostell, Yorkshire (see N.R. Ker, Medieval Libraries of Great Britain, 2nd edition 1964, and supplement, 1987), although two printed books from its library are now in Toronto and Lampeter.

The medieval priory no longer exists: its site is occupied by an 18th-century house, now owned by the National Trust.

I intend to publish a full description in due course.

EDIT 26 Feb. 2013: This manuscript is now the subject of a blog post by Emma Roberts at the LAPL.

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