Ranworth Antiphoner

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Folio 22r of the Ranworth Antiphoner contains a portion of the Mass of the Nativity. The decorated initial contains a Nativity scene.

The Ranworth Antiphoner is a 15th-century illuminated antiphoner of the Sarum Rite). It was commissioned for St. Helen's Church, Ranworth, where it is now on display. The volume comprises 285 vellum pages of writing and illustrations, with daily services in medieval Latin and 19 miniatures.

The manuscript was probably the Antiphoner bequeathed to the church in 1478 by William Cobbe.[1] Previously thought to have been produced by the monks of Langley Abbey, examinations of the illuminations suggest that the Antiphoner was manufactured by a Norwich workshop - a basic antiphoner could be produced on spec., and personalised to order.[2] Two things may back this up: 1) the insertion at the end, out of order, of the office of St Helen; 2) Revd. Enraght's suggestion of a terminus post quem non of 1443, owing to the lack of a feast of St Raphael, which was instituted in that year.

The Antiphoner miraculously survived the Reformation, probably thanks to the local Holdych family. It fell into private hands, including, in the 1850s, those of Henry Huth, and eventually re-surfaced at auction in 1912, where it was bought and returned to St. Helen's.


  1. ^ Revd. H. J. Enraght, Proceedings of the Society during the year 1912, Norfolk Archaeology 18 (1912), xxxiv-xxxvii
  2. ^ P. Lasko and N. J. Morgan, Medieval Art in East Anglia 1300-1520 (Norwich: Jarrold and Sons, 1973), p.46

Further reading[edit]

  • Kathleen Scott, Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, vol. 6: Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490.
  • Kathleen Scott, Dated and datable English manuscript borders c. 1395-1499.
  • A.I. Doyle, 'The English Provincial Book Trade before Printing' in P. Isaac, ed., Six Centuries of the Provincial Book Trade in Britain.
  • P. Lasko and N. J. Morgan, Medieval Art in East Anglia 1300-1520 (Norwich: Jarrold and Sons, 1973)

External links[edit]