Room 3: Part of the furniture? Rare historical artefacts in everyday spaces

Downside’s library and archives are not the only spaces containing rare historical artefacts. Some genuine treasures can also be found dispersed around the abbey and hidden in plain sight in its communal spaces. One of these is a fragment of a medieval manuscript, likely a missal. The fragment’s precise date and origin are yet to be established, though judging by the script and decoration it was written in the eleventh (or perhaps the late tenth) century, probably in Lotharingia or the Rhineland. The fragment contains a combination of readings, prayers and chants, complete with musical notation, from the season of Advent. Displayed in the monastery, it is a familiar, everyday object to the monks – part of the furniture, so to speak –, but so far has escaped scholars’ attention. The fragment is one of many fascinating objects at Downside yet to be studied in detail, whilst others still await discovery.

Selected by the monks of Downside.

Shown here are:
- the missal fragment (recto) in its wooden frame as displayed in the monastery;
- a detail of the fragment (recto);
- another detail of the fragment (recto).