Document ReferenceMS 250
TitleAntiphonal (illuminated service book) belonging to St Leonard's parish church, Wollaton, Nottinghamshire; 15th century (c.1430, with later additions)
Date15th century
Extent1 volume
Access ConditionsUse of original restricted for preservation reasons; readers are expected to use surrogate digital copies. Please contact us for further advice.
Admin HistoryAntiphonals (also called antiphoners or antiphonaries) are books of music for religious services. They contain the words and music to the sung portions of the Divine Office, celebrated in churches or religious houses, and are usually very large to allow them to seen by members of a choir.

This Antiphonal was created in England, probably in East Anglia. It is a noted Sarum Use breviary without lections. It has been dated by Kathleen L. Scott to between 1412 and 1458, probably c.1430. Heraldic shields within the volume suggest that the original patrons were Sir Thomas Chaworth of Wiverton, Nottinghamshire (d 1459), and his second wife, Isabella de Aylesbury, whom he married in 1415. The will of Sir Thomas, proved in York on 27 March 1459, mentions several service books in his possession.

The Wollaton Antiphonal is one of only two surviving Antiphonals illustrated with miniatures, although other have illuminated borders.
Custodial HistoryThe volume was presumably put up for sale after the death of Sir Thomas Chaworth. According to a note on folio 206v, it was bought by the executors of William Husse, the late rector of Wollaton (d 1460) for ten marks, and presented by them in perpetuity to St Leonard's parish church, Wollaton. After the Reformation it came into the possession of the Willoughby family and was kept in the library at Wollaton Hall. It was given back to the church by Lord Middleton in 1924. It was deposited in the Department of Manuscripts at The University of Nottingham by the Parochial Church Council in 1974.
DescriptionThe Antiphonal measures approximately 575 x 366mm, and is made of over 400 vellum sheets. It consists of the following sections. Descriptions below are taken from N.R. Ker and A.J. Piper, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, vol IV (Oxford, 1992):

ff. 1r - 200v. Temporale, Advent to the 25th Sunday after Trinity. Includes 6 historiated initials [see below for details], and 3 initials containing shields. Two folios are missing: folios 53-54 originally contained the office of St Thomas Becket of Canterbury (29 December) but have been cut out. The beginning of this office, on folio 52v, has been crossed out. The office was prohibited on the orders of King Henry VIII in 1538. There is no folio 83, the folios in this part of the service for Septuagesima having been mis-numbered from folio 82 straight to folio 84.

ff. 200v - 206r. Dedication of a church. Includes a historiated initial.

f. 206v originally blank, note in Latin added in the 15th century recording the purchase of the book by the executors of William Husse, rector of Wollaton, and its presentation to the church.

ff. 207r - 212v. Calendar, illuminated in red and black. The dedication of Wollaton church (13 May) has been added, along with thirteen obits, mainly of rectors of Wollaton, including William Husse (17 September 1460), and members of the Willoughby family between 1460 and 1528.

ff. 213r - 261r. Psalter. Includes 8 historiated initials [see below for details].

ff. 261r - 263v. Ferial canticles, followed by Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis.

ff. 263v - 266v. Litany of Saints for weekdays in Lent.

ff. 266v - 267r Te Deum, noted.

ff. 267v - 268r. Benedictions.

ff. 268r-v. Variations on the Gregorian eight tones (plainchant melodies). These entries were added in the 15th or 16th centuries.

ff. 269r - 296r. Common of saints.

ff. 296r - 300vr. Vigils for the dead.

ff. 300v - 302r. Settings of music for the hymns 'Iam lucis orto', 'Ihesu christe fili dei vivi', 'Nunc sancte nobis', 'Rector potens verax deus', and 'Rerum deus tenax vigor'.

f. 302v blank.

ff. 303r - 410r. Sanctorale, from St Andrew to Saints Saturninus and Sisinus. Includes 8 historiated initials [see below for details].

f. 410v blank.

ff. 411r - 413v. Office of St John of Bridlington. This entry was added in the 15th century.

f. 413v. Fifteen memoranda, written in English in several hands in the first half of the 16th century. References to shrines and dates including 'owr lady on see at sent matheu day next mych'; Anthony; Trinity of Walsoken; Burton Lazars; Robert of Knaresbrough; Our Lady of Bedlam; Jesus of London [?]; Cornelius of Westminster; Wilfred; Thomas of Canterbury; 'The frater clarke'; 'Item for an abbey in contrey of napus distroied [?] by ye turkes, no date; Friars of Colchester; Proctor of St Wifred of Ripon.

The Antiphonal is richly illuminated by several different artists. Descriptions below are taken from Kathleen L Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490 (London, 1996), 204-206.

The volume contains 23 historiated initials (letters in which pictures of scenes or figures have been drawn), as follows:

f. 34r. Nativity of Christ, with woman holding Child, and Joseph, with ?club.
f. 135r. Resurrection, with Christ displaying wounds.
f. 155r. Ascension.
f. 160v. Pentecost.
f. 166r. Crucifix-Trinity, with God blessing (no dove).
f. 170v. (Corpus Christi) procession with monstrance.
f. 200v. Dedication of a Church

f. 213r. Psalm 1, King David standing under canopy, with scroll (erased?), before prie-dieu.
f. 220v. Psalm 26, man praying, in landscape.
f. 224v. Psalm 38, King seated on bench, with blank scroll.
f. 228v. Psalm 52, fool standing in landscape, with green (?) sword and club.
f. 232v. Psalm 68, nude man in water.
f. 237v. Psalm 80, two-compartment, below: group of people looking upwards; above: half-figure of God the Father with orb, blessing.
f. 241v. Psalm 97, three clerics at lectern, with noted book
f. 246v. Psalm 109, Trinity as Three Persons; Christ with wounds and cross hung with crown of thorns; God the Father with red ord.

f. 303r. Martyrdom of St Andrew.
f. 323r. Presentation at the Temple/Purification.
f. 331r. Annunciation.
f. 339v. John the Baptist, pointing at book and Agnus Dei.
f. 350r. Feast of Relics: bishop blessing dish with bones.
f. 369r. Assumption of the Virgin.
f. 375v. Nativity of the Virgin.
f. 393r. All Saints: showing Mary in Heaven, between Christ with wounds and God the Father; saints below.

There is one border with representations, on f. 246v: at each upper corner, a man in a short furred gown, blowing a bent horn, from which a banner with arms.

There are 13 borders with coats of arms, on folios 1r, 6v, 34r, 64r, 135r, 160v, 166r, 213r, 246v, 303r, 339v, 369r and 393v. Folios 1r, 6v and 64r also include large initials containing coats of arms.

Smaller divisions throughout are marked by lombard initials in blue and red. In the musical sections, divisions are marked with calligraphic initials including cadels. On three folios, folios 234v, 305v and 307r, there are pen drawings, cadels with apes.

There is one marginal pencil sketch on folio 163r, of a cross and circle.

For details of the text decoration and borders throughout, see Kathleen L Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490 (London, 1996), 204-206.
MgtGroupLiterary and cultural records
MgtSubGrouppre-16thC papers
ArrangementNo archival arrangement has been necessary
TermAntiphons (music)
Service books (Music) - Catholic Church
Sacred vocal music - England - 15th century
Manuscripts, Medieval
Illumination of books and manuscripts
Catholic Church - Prayers and devotions
FindingAidsThis is the only finding aid for this collection, although many details about the volume are available in published secondary sources. Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to The University of Nottingham.
ReprodnNoteReprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.
ConditionIn the late twentieth century, the Wollaton Antiphonal was in a delicate condition. In addition to the natural deterioration of a volume over almost six centuries, whole sections had suffered damage from damp. Efforts made in the early 20th century stopped further loss but left large areas of discoloured brown adhesive on the surface of the treated leaves. Although many of the miniatures looked to be in good condition, there was evidence of vulnerable pigments throughout the volume.
In 1999 planning began on a project to conserve the Antiphonal. In 2001, conservation work began with generous support from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, The Pilgrim Trust and other funders. The work involved the removal of its early-19th century binding, the conservation of decayed leaf edges, the consolidation of its delicate pigments, and its rebinding in two volumes. It was completed in 2012.
Related MaterialPapers of the Willoughby family, Barons Middleton (Ref: Mi)
Wollaton Library Collection (Ref: WLC)
Related RecordMi
Publication NoteA selection of leaves from the Wollaton Antiphonal was published online on the Manuscripts and Special Collections website in 2012, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), using 'Turning the Pages' technology. See
W.H. Stevenson, Report on the Manuscripts of Lord Middleton, Historical Manuscripts Commission (1911), 236-237
A. du B. Hill, 'The Wollaton Antiphonal', Transactions of the Thoroton Society, vol. 36 (1932)
N.R. Ker and A.J. Piper, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, vol IV (Oxford, 1992)
Kathleen L Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490 (London, 1996), 204-206

In 2009-2010 The Wollaton Antiphonal was one of the manuscripts studied as part of the 'Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts: Texts, Owners and Readers' research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). See Ralph Hanna and Thorlac Turville-Petre (eds), The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts: Texts, Owners and Readers (Boydell and Brewer, 2010), especially the chapter by Alixe Bovey, 'The Wollaton Antiphonal: Kinship and Commemoration'.

Click the links below to view related name indexes

CodePersonNameDates of existence
NA80403Chaworth; Thomas (-1459); Sir; of Wiverton, Nottinghamshire-1459
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