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The small, but richly-illustrated, 25-page manuscript, discovered last year when Sotheby’s were asked to catalogue the library of the Earl of Macclesfield at Shirburn Castle in Oxfordshire, will now take up permanent residence in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. It had previously been destined for the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, prior to an export stop that offered the Fitzwilliam the chance to match the price.

The money was raised from a number of sources. A campaign, which was launched last September with a £500,000 grant from the independent charity the National Art Collections Fund, saw the public donate £180,000 and the Fitzwilliam and its Friends a further £150,000, but the crucial role was played by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (the Government’s heritage fund of last resort) that awarded a grant of £860,000.

The Psalter was produced in the 1320s, probably at Gorleston at a time when East Anglia was one of the foremost artistic centres in Europe. It contains 46 historiated initials, 14 large miniature paintings (mainly taken from the life of King David), and hundreds of lushly decorated borders and marginal scenes displaying an uninhibited humour and inventiveness.

The manuscript was possibly commissioned by the 8th Earl of Warenne, a commander of armies in Scotland and Aquitaine who was closely involved in the affairs of King Edward II and whose other claim to fame is an excommunication for multiple adultery. The numerous rabbits in the border (a common symbol of lust) are often depicted with warrens that perhaps represent a pun on the family name.