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08 Feb 2018

HISTORIA ABBATIAE S. AUGUSTINI.                                                                            Not in Haenel.

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Vellum, 215/8 x 14, ff.114, mostly in double columns of 40lines. Cent. xv, in a very fine hand. Excellently decorated initials in blue and red.

From St Augustine’s, Canterbury. On the lower margin of f. 1 is this inscription (xvi) :

‘Liber iste quondam spectauit ad coenobium beatorurn Apostolorum Petri et Pauli siue Augustini iuxta muros ciuitatis Cantuarie. Ipso autem nionasterio sub regimine regis Henrici octaui sublato, bonisque omnibus monachorum spoliatis, et in usum regium conuersis, idem liber fortuito peruenit ad manus magistri Roberti Haer, qui dedit eundem collegio siue aule sancte Trinitatis Cantebrig. ibidem tuto et secure custodiendum. Hac tamen conditione ut si imposterum (fauente deo) monasterium illud reedificari con­tingeret : Tunc magister et socii collegii siue aulae sancte Trinitatis predicte eundem librum monachis eiusdem cenobii restitui facerent. Quoniam ad eos de iure pertinere debet.’

The book is not entered in the Catalogue of the Abbey Library.

Collation :

112 22 38 48 56 68-108 (wants 8)… I have found it impossible to ascertain the structure of the rest of the book, owing to its size and the tightness of the back.

Contents and decoration:

The whole text was printed by the Rev. C. Hardwick for the Rolls Series in 1858 with a facsimile of the map of Thanet, and the leaf with the view of the altar and shrines in St Augustine’s Church has been frequently engraved. In spite of this I will give some notes on the aspect and contents of the volume, which is a most remarkable specimen of calligraphy.


It begins with the chronological table (Hardwick, pp. 2-73) from A.D. 597 to 1453. The years 1418-1453 are blank, f. 1. This table is splendidly written in black, red and blue. The notes of historical events are in a beautiful small hand. The table occupies 11 leaves.

Most of f. 12 a is occupied by a splendid circular diagram in red, blue and black of the Ciclus Solaris. Below are two small ones of the Ciclus lunaris and Ciclus indictionalis. At the top are six memorial verses headed: ‘Compotus pro ciclo solari per literas dominicales.’ Below this five verses in red and blue on the Ciclus solaris. On the right a Tabula paschalis (a Kalendar from 12 kal. Ap. to 7 kal. Mai). At the bottom verses on the two other cycles. This page is not printed by Hardwick.

ff. 12 b-14 b blank.

On f. 15 a the text begins : ‘L. I. De fundacione. / Inc. titulus de fundacione. / Tractatum de state huius monasterii.’ (Hardwick, p. 77.) The initial is in exceedingly good penwork of red and blue on white ground. This form of initial recurs many times.

On and after f. 18 b the names of Archbishops, Abbots, Popes and Kings are written in large letters in medallions at the top of the page.

On f, 21 b occurs the first of a series of remarkable facsimiles of documents. This is a copy of a charter of Ethelbert (Confirmatio solius fundi circa ecclesiam S. pancratii) and is headed :

‘Hic notatur exemplar contemplandum prime carte regis aethelberti tam in longitudine quam in latitudine quam in scripture qualitate.’ It is a rather unsuccessful facsimile of an Anglo-Saxon hand. The text is repeated in a beautiful small hand in the lower margin headed: ‘Tenor prime carte in scripture moderna.’

A similar copy of a second charter (with transcription) is on the next page f. 22 a.

On f. 23 a is a much better copy of a third charter in uncials. It appears to be most carefully done and occupies the whole page, being written the other way of the parchment. The “modern” transcription is on f. 22 b.


On f. 24 a is the Exemplar bulle S. Augustini cum signo plumbeo. This is also in uncials and very carefully done. It has a picture of the seal attached to it, in blue. Both faces are given. On one is the facade of a church, ECEA/M/P/XPI. and the legend •:• AVGVSTINI EPI., on the other half-length figure of Christ with book, blessing, IE XC and the legend + SIGNV SEI SALVATORIS. Besides the pictures are these notes, not printed by Hardwick.

‘Ex una parte istius signi b. augustini descriptio est ista tit patet •:• augustini epi et hec est scriptura in exteriori circumferencia. In medio signi est forma unius ecclesie et super eamdem scribitur eccla. subtus, xpi. a dextris ponitur una litera silicet M, a sinistris p. Per m monasterium per p petri intellige. quod bene cum prima carta fundacionis presentis monasterii concordat. in qua solummodo petri apostoli mencio annotator. sed in carta secunda et tercia fit mentio de utrisque uidelicet petro et paulo.

‘Ex altera parte istius signi descripcio est ista. In exteriori circumferencia scribitur +. Signum Sancti saluatoris. In medio est ymago saluatoris ab umbilico sursum. A dextris scribitur ihc a sinistris xpc.

On 24 b is a picture of a seal inscribed + sigillum sci• Stephani Protomris. An abbot (ABAS) mitred on L. kneels and takes a crosier from Stephen in dalmatic, with censer on R.

On 26 b a picture of a leaden bulla of Boniface IV, both faces given. (I) + PETRO CATHOLICAS FIDEI DAT XPS HABENAS. Peter kneeling receives keys from divine Hand on L. (2) A large church with letters A. V. R. A. BONIFATII PAPAS IIII.


On f. 42 b (xxviii b) is the map of Thanet facsimiled by Mr Hardwick.

On f. 70 b (lvi b) in an initial is a bust of Jambert as Archbishop in mitre and pall.

After f. 73 is a break (see Hardwick, p. 344) from A.D. 806 to 1087.

ff. 74, 75 are blank. The old foliation omits ff.72-75 so that f. 76 becomes f. lviii. f. 76 b is blank.

On f. 77 a is the picture of the East end of St Augustine’s Church with the altar and shrines. It is reproduced in the Monasticon I. 120 and in Hasted’s History of Kent iv.654. Also, from the engraving in the Monasticon, in Boggis’s recent History of St Augustine’s Abbey.

f. 77 b is blank. f. 80 b blank. f. 81 b,84 b blank.

On f. 86 a are facsimiles of signatures to a bull of Innocent II.

On f. 90 b a partial facsimile of a bull. On 92 b more facsimiles of signatures to a bull of Eugenius.

The text ends on f. 116 b unfinished:

‘Celestinus episcopus serous seruorum dei.’

Hardwick, p. 479.

The last leaf has notes probably by Hare on the contents. The book is very evidently unfinished. Besides the break (not due to accident) after f. 73, it may be noted that the initials after that point are much plainer, and that after f. 92 no initials have been put in at all. The writing is of one character throughout, but decreases in beauty towards the end. There are no headlines after f. 68 (liv).

© N.J.R. James