Room 3: The past as present: two manuscripts from Lambach Abbey

Many treasures kept at Downside predate both the community’s settlement in Stratton-on-the-Fosse in 1814 and the foundation of its previous home in Douai in 1607, thus connecting the community with its pre-modern roots. Two of the oldest artefacts in Downside’s possession are a pair of twelfth-century manuscripts from Lambach Abbey, Austria. The larger book contains the Old Testament Prophets, annotated for reading at the Night Office. The smaller book, a lectionary, complements this by providing the lessons for Mass. They were bequeathed to Downside in 1995 by David Rogers (1917–95), a prominent historian and head of the Bodleian Library’s special collections. A pupil of Downside School, Rogers collected historical manuscripts with the aim of ‘filling gaps’ in the community’s library, presumably believing that the presence of these particular books at Downside would help the community reflect on the development of its liturgy and thus contribute to its historical consciousness.

Selected by Benjamin Pohl, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Bristol.

Shown here are:
- a page detail with musical notation from the ‘Lambach Prophetar(i)um’;
- a miniature of St Isaiah from the same book;
- the opening page of the lectionary from Lambach Abbey.