Book of Hours (Paris)

Scope and Content

Book of Hours written in the early 15th century in northern France, possibly Paris, and including a Calendar with additions in a late 15th century hand of Saints Nectan, Urith and a translation of Richard of Chichester, as well as 'dedicacio ecclesie de Towstock' (ff.1-6v); fifteen Hours, beginning abruptly 'memoriam harum ante crucem tuam passionem' (ff.7-9v, 15r-v, 10r-v); Commemoracio Georgi martyris (ff.11-11v); Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Use of Sarum), with the beginning of each Hour lost (ff.12-40v); Penitential psalms, beginning abruptly in Psalm 31, v. 5 'meam a domino et tu remisisti impietatem peccati mei' (ff.41-46v); the fifteen Gradual Psalms (ff.46v-48v); Litany, ending abruptly (f.48v); prayers, beginning abruptly 'pretende super famulos tuos et super cunctas congregaciones' (ff.49-49v); the Office of the Dead, beginning abruptly in Vespers, Psalm 137 v. 2 'misericordia tua et ueritate' (ff.51-69v); commendatio animae, beginning abruptly in Psalm 118, v. 20 ' justificaciones tuas in omni tempore' (ff.70-80v); and psalms of the Passion, beginning abruptly in Psalm 21, v. 17 ' et pedes meos' (ff.81-84v). There are also medical recipes (ff.50, 50v, 84) and prayers (ff.37v, 84v) all in English added by several hands of the late 15th and 16th century.

Administrative / Biographical History

During the late Middle Ages, the Book of Hours developed as a popular devotional text for the laity, who would recite the particular prayer for the hour of the day and time of year according to the ecclesiastical calendar. The accompanying illuminations and miniatures of saints, the Virgin Mary, and Christ provided an opportunity for spiritual reflection and prayer for salvation.


Single item.

Access Information

Access to the items in the collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the controlled environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Access to archive collections may be restricted under the Freedom of Information Act. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Neil R. Ker from Maggs Bros. in 1979, and given to the Library by his executors in 1984.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Parchment. Foliated 1-9, 15, 10-59, thereafter only intermittently.
180 x 130 mm. Written space 105-9 x 70-75 mm; 20 long lines.
5-line blue initial on gold and pink field, within initial plant spray, full page border with bright green and blue branches terminating in blue and orange leaves, sometimes green and pink, and sprays of ink-drawn stems ending in little gold buds (f.29). Full-page borders, initials cut out (ff.17, 33). 5-line gold initial on blue and pink ground decorated with white filigree, with sprays extending into margin terminating in blue or pink and white three-petalled flowers (f.11). 2-line gold initials on a field of blue and pink which colours alternate inside and outside the letter, both decorated with white filigree. 1-line initials alternately in blue or gold with flourishing respectively in red or blue. Rubrics. Disbound.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Custodial History

The Book of Hours was created in northern France in the early 15th century, but by the later part of the century had made its way to Tawstock in Devon, as shown by the dedication of the church added to the calendar and the addition of Nectan and Urith, who are particularly associated with the West Country.


Nicholas Orne, 'Two early prayerbooks from North Devon', Devon and Cornwall notes and queries , XXXVI, Part X, Autumn 1991.