1642AB01C.jpg

You have 2 more free articles remaining

Full-length borders throughout and hundreds of marginal scenes and vignettes, plus numerous illuminated and historiated initials and two full-page miniatures, are among decorative elements that make this psalter of c.1320-30 the greatest English discovery of its kind in living memory and probably the greatest East Anglian manuscript to appear on the market since the sale of the Luttrell Psalter in 1929. What is perhaps even more remarkable is that this appears to be a third illuminated manuscript that can be traced back to the small parish church of St. Andrew in Gorleston, Suffolk.

Exactly 100 years ago, C.W. Dyson Perrins acquired from Lord Braybrooke a richly decorated East Anglian psalter that included in its calendar the feast of the dedication of that little church. This very surprising provenance became even more so when Sydney Cockerell drew attention to similarities with another, even more splendid English psalter in the Bibliothèque Municipale at Douai that had the same dedication. In 1914, as the German armies advanced, that Douai Psalter was buried in a zinc box in the library courtyard, but when it was later unearthed, was found to have been almost entirely destroyed by acidity and water.

Today, only a few washed-out fragments and some precious photographs survive. The loss of the Douai Psalter was truly disastrous, but the Dyson Perrins' Gorleston Psalter has been safely installed in the BM since 1958, and now we have a third Gorleston to wonder at and a new chapter in the history of English illumination to peruse: hence the headline.