Dr James Willoughby led the first medieval manuscripts masterclass of 2011, examining manuscripts from Bodleian collections that had been part of the library of St George’s Chapel, Windsor. The main problem was to establish when the books had arrived in St George’s Chapel. A 14th-century inventory from the library, fortunately preserved also in the Bodleian as MS. Ashm. Rolls 47, showed none of the manuscripts in question (many of them older than the Chapel itself, which was founded in 1348) were at that time in the Chapel library. In 1612, the transfer of 70 surviving manuscripts from St George’s to the Bodleian was recorded in the library records. Between those two dates, Dr Willoughby found the question that drove his research: were these manuscripts requisitioned from monasteries at the Dissolution ordered by Henry VIII (who is buried in the Chapel)? Or had the library acquired them by other means, through a second-hand market in manuscripts, active already in the 15th century? The evidence had to be sought in the style of bindings, in inscriptions, marks of chaining, and pressmarks.
The classes are convened by Professor Richard Sharpe (History Faculty) and Martin Kauffmann (Bodleian Library). See the current calendar of events.