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The Old Library had three very successful events in June to bring the treasures of the past to a wider audience.

Preservation and Interpretation of Seals
Cambridge college libraries and archives contain a wealth of sealed documents. While the documents themselves are generally well recorded and valued for their content, the seals attached to the documents are often less well studied.

Trinity Hall hosted two workshops and a public talk on the subject of seals and sealed documents. The workshops on Friday 7 June were an opportunity for librarians, conservators and museum professionals to hear from two experts in the field, Dr Elizabeth New and Dr John McEwan, Research Associates on the Arts and Humanities Research Council seals projects at Aberystwyth University.

Seals Public Talk

Seals Public Talk

Participants learnt about the technology of creating matrices and seals, the historical and artistic significance of seals, and the approaches for preserving these vulnerable wax objects. Examples of medieval sealed documents from the Old library and from the Archive of Christ’s College were on display. There was also a chance to handle resin facsimiles of historical seals (including one in the form of a fridge magnet!). In addition, there was a lunchtime visit to the Parker Library to view selected seals from the Corpus Christi Archive including a wonderfully sharp impression of the Cambridge town seal.

Studying a resin replica seal

Studying a resin replica seal

Seals are a potent connection with the past. They are highly tactile and many bear the thumb or finger prints of their creators. They deserve to be preserved and studied for the light they shed on the medieval world.

General Admission
Every year the Old Library is open on the afternoon of General Admission for Trinity Hall graduands and their guests. It is a day of celebration when another cohort of students collects their degrees and goes out into the world. The treasures of Trinity Hall are on show, including the college silver and the rare books of the Old Library.

Enthralled by the manuscripts

Enthralled by the manuscripts

Over 200 people visited the Old Library during the afternoon and for many students it was their first time in this hidden gem of Trinity Hall. The visitors were fascinated and amazed by the treasures on show.

Under the Covers
At the end of June the Old Library hosted an event for the Supporters of the Old Library and the 1350 Society. Guests were given a tour of the Old Library and then visited the “Under the Covers” exhibition in the Chetwode Room.

This fascinating exhibition by the Cambridge Colleges Conservation Consortium looked in detail at the physical structure of medieval books – literally under the covers! On display were the traditional materials used for binding manuscripts and early printed books: vellum leaves, sewing materials, oak boards, Nigerian goatskin, tawed alum skins and hand marbled papers. Visitors could look at some of the recently conserved items from the Old Library to see the finished result of the reinstated medieval-style bindings.

Manuscript rebound in the medieval style using a vibrant red Nigerian goatskin

Manuscript rebound in the medieval style using a vibrant red Nigerian goatskin

There were some surprises too! Conservation on the binding of a printed book, Speculum Spiritualium by Richard Rolle de Hampole (London, 1510), revealed that the boards were made up of manuscript leaves which had been pasted together. The conservators carefully separated the leaves and replaced the boards. Some of the leaves are from an early medical manuscript! These leaves have yet to be studied and we would welcome any scholars who would like to look at them.

Conserved manuscript leaves removed from the covers of "Speculum Spiritualium"

Conserved manuscript leaves removed from the covers of “Speculum Spiritualium”

Experienced conservators, Edward Cheese and Bridget Warrington of the Cambridge Colleges Conservation Consortium, were on hand to explain the book-binding techniques and to guide people who had a go at sewing together the leaves of a book. The event gave people first-hand experience of this important medieval craft and helped to bring the past vividly alive!

Coming Up…

The Old Library will be open for two events in September 2013.

The Old Library

The Old Library

On Friday 13 September the Old Library will be open to the general public for bookable tours during Open Cambridge. Booking starts on Monday 19th August via the Open Cambridge website.

The Old Library will also be open to Cambridge alumni for bookable tours during the Alumni Festival on Sunday 29 September. Booking starts on Monday 15th July via the Alumni Festival website.

Please book early for either event to ensure a place on an Old Library tour!

References

Seals and Sealing Practices by Elizabeth A. New,  (London: British Record Association, 2010).

Seals in Context: Medieval Wales and the Welsh Marches edited by: John McEwan and Elizabeth A. New, with Susan M. Johns and Phillipp R. Schofield (Aberystwyth: Canolfan Astudiaeth Addysg, 2012).

For more about the Cambridge Colleges Conservation Consortium see: Collaboration in special collections by Suzanne Paul.

Richard Hampole: in addition to the Wikipedia article there is a biography of Richard Hampole in the Catholic Encyclopedia

Speculum spiritualium. There are several copies of this book in Cambridge University Library ( in addition to the copy in the Old Library, Trinity Hall)

Open Cambridge: http://www.cam.ac.uk/open-cambridge

Alumni Festival:

http://my.alumni.cam.ac.uk/s/1321/interior.aspx?sid=1321&gid=1&pgid=924

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The archives, libraries and museums of Cambridge are full of the most amazing treasures. But one kind of artefact is all too easily overlooked – the myriad of seals that are attached to historical documents. Seals come in all shapes and sizes and are artworks in miniature.

The use of seals dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, however, the examples of seals present in most Cambridge collections are medieval European (and principally English) seals dating from the 11th century onwards. Medieval seals were attached to documents as proof of their authenticity and were used by royal government, cities, monastic houses, commercial enterprises and individuals much as a signature is today.

Trinity Hall matrix

Trinity Hall matrix

Seals were created by using a metal matrix which was impressed on a green or red wax made of beeswax and resin. From the 16th century onwards the use of shellac became common practice. There is a huge range of artistic sophistication, style and size in medieval and early modern seals: from generic designs bought ready made, through bespoke designs, to the intricate magnificence of the Great Seal.

Elizabeth I Confirmation Charter (1559) with the Great Seal

Elizabeth I Confirmation Charter (1559) with the Great Seal

Seals also provide us with important historical information, in addition to the written content of the documents to which they are attached. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “The growth in government in England can be traced by its use of seals. The Great Seal …, first used in in the 11th century, was augmented by smaller seals, and finally the Privy Seal, the keeper of which was a minister of state. As the power of the seal grew the king sometimes found it necessary to adopt a private sometimes secret, seal for his correspondence”.

Letter from Elizabeth I to the Master and Fellows of Trinity Hall sealed with a wafer seal

Letter from Elizabeth I to the Master and Fellows of Trinity Hall – sealed with a wafer seal

There is much to discover through the study of seals, however, they can be difficult to interpret! Do you have seals on documents in your care, have you come across seals during your historical research and wondered how to interpret them or do you simply have an interest in medieval history? Anyone with an interest in local history and in the wide variety of seals attached to medieval documents will be fascinated by a forthcoming public talk “Making an Impression: seals as a resource for historical research” at Trinity Hall Cambridge on Saturday 8 June at 11am.

The speaker, Dr Elizabeth New of Aberystwyth University, is a medieval historian and an expert on British seals. She is Senior Researcher on the Arts and Humanities Research Council Exploring Medieval Seals project and author of Seals and sealing practices (London, British Records Association, 2010).

The talk is free but booking is essential.

To book a place at the talk please email library@trinhall.cam.ac.uk

Making an Impression Poster

References:

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th Ed.) Chicago, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1974.

Seals and sealing practices / by Elizabeth New. London, British Records Association, 2010.

Exploring Medieval seals blog

Trinity Hall public talk: Making an impression: seals as a resource for historical research

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In 1988 the Scottish artist John Bellany came to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for a life-saving operation by one of the pioneers of liver-transplantation and Fellow of Trinity Hall, Sir Roy Calne. Such was Bellany’s condition that it was uncertain whether he would survive the transplant.

Self-portrait

Bellany after the operation (Image from The Culture Show)

Art is as fundamental to John Bellany’s existence as breathing. When he came round after the operation at three o’clock in the morning the first thing he asked for was a pencil and paper. The paper was burning in his hand but it was only when he had finished his self-portrait that he felt sure that he would survive. Now celebrating his 70th year with an exhibition “A passion for life” at the National Gallery of Scotland John Bellany, in an interview with Alastair Sooke for the Culture Show, revealed that he still considers this to be his finest self-portrait.

Sir Roy Calne and his team had the imagination to recognise that Bellany lived through his art and that it was vital to his recovery. He was allowed to turn his hospital room at Addenbrookes into an artist’s studio and soon the walls were covered with works documenting his recovery in pencil or paint.

The artist's "studio" in Addenbrookes

The artist’s “studio” in Addenbrookes (Image from The Culture Show)

The corpus work from this period is a unique visual record of the process of recovery. We are shown a full range of emotions from joy at being alive (“Bonjour, Professor Calne”), an unflinching quest for veracity (notably in his self-portraits), imaginative reconstructions of the operation (“Surgeon’s Hall” and “The transplant I and II”), through to the depiction of feelings of terror at the violence done to the body (the series of “Prometheus” paintings). Bellany shows us his struggle to come to terms with what has happened to him and his journey through feelings of violation, loss, guilt, exhaustion to acceptance, joy and rebirth.

Bonjour Professor Calne (Image from www.bellany.com)

Bonjour Professor Calne (Image from http://www.bellany.com)

Bellany’s liver-transplant was a life-changing (as well as life-saving) event.  In his interview with Sooke, the artist said that he’d been living under a cloud and suddenly everything was in brilliant colour – colours that he simply hadn’t been seeing before. Bellany spent his convalescence at Little Eversden, just outside Cambridge. During this period he was a Fellow Commoner of Trinity Hall (1988-1990) and as a result we have now five of his works in our collection. Perhaps the most joyful is “Flora” which hangs in the Jerwood Library.

"Flora"

“Flora” (Image from BBC Your Paintings)

“Flora” was painted as a thank you to Trinity Hall and this large canvas is bursting with colour and vibrancy. It is so joyful that the canvas struggles to contain the vase of flowers which almost seems to be thrust towards the viewer as a gift. The patterns made by the cloth on the table, the piles of books and the rugs on the floor all jostle for our attention and create an explosion of vigorous lines and colour. The space is difficult to read, almost dizzying in its exuberance.

In the bouquet of flowers we have lilies (amaryllis and lilium regale – whose heady scent you can almost smell) accompanied by the bright yellow of sunflowers. These flowers are laden with symbolism. The white lilies embody purity and new life through their association with the Annunciation, while the sunflowers symbolize the life-force through their association with the sun, bending their heads to follow its course throughout the day. In the centre of the bouquet we have an unambiguous symbol of life and vigour: the red amaryllis which thrusts it way up right to the top of the canvas, almost bursting out of the top.

However, these flowers also have a darker side as symbols of death: white lilies are frequently used in funerals (symbolizing the restored innocence of the soul at death) and the sunflowers remind us of Van Gogh, whose struggle with life ended in bleakness and suicide. Here Bellany reveals that he has looked death in the face and that his near-death was close to suicide: we have an acknowledgement that it was his own actions, his hard-drinking, that brought him to death’s door.

“Flora” is a painting of resurection and rebirth. The title “Flora” refers not only to the vase of flowers but also to Botticelli’s masterpiece “Primavera” where the flower-crowned Flora is the companion to the central figure in the painting. In Bellany’s painting we see the almond-shaped eyes of a beautiful young face gazing out at us from beneath a crown of sunflowers. This is the unmistakably steady, limpid gaze of Flora, a celebration of spring in all its abundance and laden with the enigmatic mystery of “Primavera”.

Flora from "Primavera" (Image from Wikipedia)

Flora from “Primavera” (Image from Wikipedia)

As in Botticelli’s painting the face in “Flora” is androgynous – is it the face of a boy or of a woman? Is this the face of  Bellany himself, reborn, literally rejuvenated, after his operation – or is it the face of Helen, his wife, whose constant support was a life-giving source of strength?  Or might it even be the face of an undergraduate at Trinity Hall, a “Fresher”, almost submerged by the pile of books that covers the bottom of the face, whose time at Trinity Hall promises to be one of a flowering of potential and the start of a new life? Certainly “Flora” was painted for Trinity Hall so the latter interpretation is possible!

Detail of "Flora"

Detail of “Flora”

That John Bellany is still alive today is a remarkable testimony to Sir Roy Calne, the Addenbrookes team, the constant support of his wife Helen and above all to his own passion for life. As he said recently, “I love life”!

Postscript:

Sir Roy Calne

Sir Roy Calne

Professor Sir Roy Calne (Honorary Fellow) and Dr Thomas Starzl (University of Pittsburgh) have been honoured with the 2012 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for their work on liver transplantation, an intervention that has restored normal life to thousands of patients with end-stage liver disease. Through their systematic and relentless efforts, they created a medical procedure that most physicians deemed an impossible dream. Some of Starzl’s and Calne’s early patients – originally diagnosed with untreatable and lethal diseases – are still thriving today, decades after their surgeries.

References:

John Bellany’s website

John Bellany 31 March – 5 May 1989. Fischer Fine Art Limited. Exhibition catalogue.

John Bellany in Cambridge 19 March to 30 June 1991. Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge. Exhibition catalogue

BBC Your Paintings: uncovering the nation’s art collection

Culture Show (BBC)

Wikipedia

Current Exhibition:

This titan of Scottish contemporary art is celebrated in the current exhibition “A passion for Life” at the National Gallery of Scotland. 17th November 2012 − 27th January 2013.

Bellany’s work at Trinity Hall:

Oli paintings: Flora, Self-portrait, Professor Sir John Lyons

Watercolour: Mountainous landscape.

Drawing: Dr. J. A. Cremona

Paintings by Sir Roy Calne:

Sir Roy Calne was inspired to paint through his friendship with John Bellany. Works by Calne can be seen in several collections, including the Royal College of Surgeons (the Hunterian Museum) and Trinity Hall.

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The space outside the Old Library has been transformed by a new sculpture. The work “Trinity” was created by the artist Helene Fesenmaier for her exhibition “Trans|figur|ation” at Trinity Hall.

All the works in the exhibition have multiple resonances and this sculpture is no exception. Looking relatively modest at first glance, “Trinity” works on many levels to challenge the viewer. Its tripartite construction, embodying the title with its associations of Christian spirituality, is striking for its appearance of fragility. Its verticality and the use of wood and metal echoes the Crucifixion, and in particular the artist’s preoccupation with Grunewald’s Isenheim altarpiece which has played a pivotal role in her work.

Grunewald’s depiction of the lacerated arms and tortured hands of Christ is echoed by the emaciated and battered arm and hand (possibly of the artist herself?) which help to anchor the piece. The gilding on the arm links it back to the altarpiece, reinforces its sacred/sacrificial quality and reminds us also of the toxic therapy used for cancer (through its visual reference to “The man with the golden arm”).

That a such a fragile looking sculpture can stand up to the elements is a surprise, but within it is a hard core, literally the backbone of the piece. This central element of concrete, metal, wood, slate and flint speaks of humanity’s ability to endure, even when completely stripped back to essentials. Here we have an embodiment of suffering: from Christ’s suffering on the cross, through the universal suffering of living beings, to the artist’s own struggle with cancer and the ravages of the illness and treatment.

Trinity spine

As we move round the sculpture we are challenged once again: writ large is “The birth of a book is the death of a tree”. What are we to make of this statement in the middle of a Cambridge college – at the heart of academia? The title of the piece leads us to identify the “book” with the Bible (and the New Testament in particular) and the “tree” with Christ, through his sacrifice on the cross. However, the artist’s choice of words also points away from the specific to the general – to further layers of meaning.

Trinity by Helene Fesenmaier

The choice of site for the sculpture is significant. It is set squarely between the Fellows garden and the Old Library. Here we have the opposition between the natural world and civilisation. The rough wooden plank faces the garden while the gilded arm with its polished books faces the Old Library. In order to read the message on the piece we have to turn our back on the garden and face the Old Library. Are we in danger of turning a blind eye to the damaging effects of our civilisation on planet Earth? The artist forces us to confront the impact of human progress on the natural world and to count its cost.

The “Trinity” can be seen as the trio of nature, civilisation and the human being who, as the fulcrum of the piece, is poised between the two. There is conflict: humanity is faced with a choice and is pulled in two directions. But there is also interdependence: each of the three elements of the piece plays a vital part in supporting the whole and cannot exist in isolation.

Trinity detail

Moreover, human beings act as both agents of change and interpreters of the world around them. This is not nature in the raw – the tree has been through the saw-mill and it has been inscribed (maybe even beautified) by the power of the word. Our environment is constantly affected by our intervention and is perceived through the filter of our literary imagination. We may yearn for Arcadia, but our very presence alters, interprets, tames and even brutalises the wilderness.

Culture does not come without human cost – the arm is elongated and weighed down by the books it holds. We are reminded of the pressure of academic life at Cambridge and the demands that are made of students and academics alike. But learning is something to be prized. Books are precious: they are brushed with gold and are the most polished element of the piece. They form the anchor of the sculpture underpinning the structure just as learning and academic excellence underpin the life of the College.

Detail of Trinity by Helene Fesenmaier

For Fesenmaier poetry is at the centre of her inspiration and books are a recurring theme in her work. And this brings us full circle to the Isenheim altarpiece – itself many layered, with its leaves unfolding just like the leaves of a book.

Forthcoming talk

There will be a unique opportunity for students and the general public to hear the artist Helene Fesenmaier talk about the exhibition on Tuesday 13 November 2012 at 5:45 pm in the Graham Storey Room.

Exhibition opening times

Trans|figur|ation – an exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Helene Fesenmaier is open to the public from Saturday 29 September until Sunday 25 November 2012 at the following times:

Saturdays 9.30 – 12.30

Sundays 2-5pm

Bibliography

The exhibition catalogue is available for purchase from the Porters Lodge:

Helen Fesenmaier: Trans|figur|ation (London: Redfern Gallery, 2012) ISBN: 0948460377

See in particular the Introduction by Mary Rose Beaumont with her discussion of “Trinity” on page 6 of the catalogue.

Links:

Helene Fesenmaier is represented by the Redfern Gallery

Wikipedia for articles on Arcadia, the Isneheim altarpiece and the “Man with the golden arm”.

Isenheim altarpiece image from strawhutembassy.wordpress.com

You Tube video of the unfolding of a maquette of the Isenheim altarpiece

Man with the golden arm image from http://www.creativereview.co.uk/

TTrinity Hall and Cambridge University offer an extensive network of pastoral support  to students and academics to help them with the demands of academic life.

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In the summer of 1564 Elizabeth I made her one and only visit to Cambridge. Marion Colthorpe tells us in her book “Royal Cambridge: royal visitors to Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth I – Queen Elizabeth II” that in honour of the occasion, despite the fact that it was the summer vacation, all the members of the University were recalled to Cambridge. They lined the streets and cheered “Vivat Regina!” as she and her retinue rode into town.  The Queen stayed at the Provost’s Lodge of King’s College from 5-10 August, but many of her retinue were put up at other colleges. Charles Crawley tells us in his history of Trinity Hall that the Lord Chamberlain and Lord Clinton were lodged at Trinity Hall and that the Queen was welcomed to College with a speech by John Hammond (fellow 1557-74).

The University and town organised a full programme of events, including orations, debates, services and, best of all, plays which were put on most evenings for her entertainment. On Sunday 6 August, after Evensong, Elizabeth saw Plautus’s “Aulularia” which was performed in Latin on a ‘great stage’ built in King’s ante-chapel. The players were drawn from all the Cambridge colleges, with the exception of King’s. The reason for this was that men from King’s were busy preparing for performances due to take place on the two following evenings. On Monday evening they formed the cast of “Dido” written in Latin by Edward Halliwell and on the subsequent evening, Tuesday 8 August, they performed Mr Udall’s “Ezechias”.

A certain King’s fellow (who subsequently became Master of Trinity Hall) caught the eye of the Sovereign in the play of “Dido”. She was very favourably impressed by Thomas Preston (for that was his name), “putting forth her hand for him to kiss, her Highness … dubbed him ‘her scholar’ … and therewithal she gave him eight angels”. An angel was a gold coin worth 10 shillings and in addition the Queen promised Preston a handsome pension of £20 a year! It was Thomas Preston who made the final oration, again in Latin, on the occasion of the Queen’s departure on 10 August.  All in all the visit has been a resounding success and his meeting with the Queen was an episode that Preston was never to forget. His brass in the ante-chapel of Trinity Hall bears a Latin inscription recalling the day when Elizabeth I called him “her scholar”.

Preston’s brass in the ante-chapel (usually covered by a Persian carpet) – and a view of Preston’s feet!

The meeting was also to have repercussions for College. Twenty one years later, just before the death of Henry Harvey (Master 1559-1585) a royal mandate was sent to Trinity Hall staying the election of a new Master. This was followed by another royal mandate directing the fellows to elect Thomas Preston. Elizabeth I and Burghley had chosen “her scholar” for the job! Preston was Master of Trinity Hall from 1585 until his death in 1598, and he also served as Vice Chancellor of the University from 1589-90. According to Crawley, Preston wrote to Burghley that Trinity Hall was labouring under a “store of abuses” and that its debts were “desperate to be remedied”. Nonetheless, it was during his tenure that College undertook the expense of building a new library, the “Old Library” as we know it today.

The Charter of 1559

It is fitting that the Old Library houses two precious documents from Queen Elizabeth I. The first document is the charter reconfirming the original foundation of Trinity Hall in 1350 which was granted to College in 1559, the first year of Elizabeth’s reign.  It represents the return of academic life to something approaching normality after the upheavals of the Reformation and the reign of Queen Mary, when Colleges had been closed and amalgamated and new Colleges founded. Queen Elizabeth can be seen enthroned in the large capital “E”.

The impressive signature of the most powerful woman in the land!

The second document is a letter to the College, dated 2nd September 1587, requesting the leasing of two manors to one of Elizabeth’s courtiers, Ralph Bowes, Master of the Queen’s Games. The letter bears the impressive signature of Queen Elizabeth I. On the reverse, it is addressed to the Queen’s “trustie and welbeloved the MS [Master] and fellowes of Trinitie Hall in Cambridge”. Of course, the Master at that time was the Queen’s “scholar” Thomas Preston.

Reverse of letter with the address to the Master (Thomas Preston) and fellows

Thomas Preston was well-known to contemporaries as the author of the play “Cambyses King of Persia”, which was registered by the Stationer’s Company in September/October 1569. Shakespeare poked fun at the play’s bombast through the mouth of Falstaff, who says “Give me a cup of sack to make mine eyes look red, that it may be thought I have wept; for I must speak in passion, and I will do it in King Cambyse’s vein.” (Henry IV Part I, Act II, Scene 4). Today his name lives on in Trinity Hall’s drama society, the Preston Society, which puts on College musicals, pantos and plays.

But undoubtedly Thomas Preston’s outstanding legacy is that his Mastership presided over the building of the “jewel in the crown” of Trinity Hall – a wonderful Elizabethan library, still virtually unchanged today.

Inscription on Preston’s brass (from Warren’s Book)

References:

Most of the information about Elizabeth I’s visit to Cambridge in 1564 is taken from Marion Colthorpe’s “Royal Cambridge: royal visitors to Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth I – Queen Elizabeth II”, Cambridge, 1977.

For more detail about the 1564 royal visit see Marion Colthorpe’s “Elizabethan court day by day” on Folgerpedia.

Trinity Hall: the history of a Cambridge college, 1350-1975 / Charles Crawley. Cambridge, 1976.

Warren’s book / edited by A.W.W. Dale. Cambridge, 1911.

Wikipedia: article on Thomas Preston

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We are VERY grateful to our guest blogger, Dunstan Roberts, who has written this post for the Old Library blog. Dunstan is a graduate student at Trinity Hall. He has recently submitted a doctoral thesis on readers’ annotations in sixteenth-century religious books.

“A Detection of the Deuils Sophistrie”, a little-known work of sixteenth-century religious controversy, was published in 1546. The colourfully-named polemic was written by the then Master of Trinity Hall and Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner (c.1495-1555), whose scholarly prowess and political nous placed him at the forefront of the conservative faction during much of the English Reformation.

What makes the College’s copy interesting is that one of its early readers has filled its margins with annotations—about three-thousand words of them, to be precise. Early modern readers often annotated books in order to improve comprehension and recollection, sometimes adding concise paraphrases and non-verbal notes.

But the annotations in the college’s copy of A Detection are not like this. They are far more pugnacious: a full-blown assault on Stephen Gardiner’s text, denouncing its theology, challenging its arguments, and refuting its patristic sources with rival interpretations and occasionally with rival sources.

Stephen Gardiner, A Detection of the Deuils Sophistrie (1546). Trinity Hall, TH.G.I.1, sigs E3V-E4R.

In more detail:

Sigs E3V-E4R: “In this prayer ys heresye where he said christe moth[er] brought forth god wiche hath no begy[n]ninge note also his treason for images”.

An analysis of the theological viewpoint of the annotations reveals a reader opposed to Gardiner’s Catholicism, but without any suggestion of religious radicalism: in short, a moderate Protestant.

So who was responsible for these unusual annotations? We are fortunate in this instance that the annotator has made his identity explicit through an ownership inscription at the rear of the book: ‘Tho[mas] morgan[us] Ap[u]d Myntie Diocaes[is]. Sa[rum]’. This gives us both a person and a location. The village of Minety (to give it its modern spelling) lies on the border between Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, about 7 miles north-west of Swindon, and falls within the diocese of Salisbury (known in Latin as Sarum). As for Thomas Morgan, he was vicar of Minety from 1582 to 1627, an impressive innings, especially by early-modern standards. We can find two students of his name at Oxford (none at Cambridge) during the decade prior to his installation at Minety: one at Jesus College and one at New Inn Hall (a medieval institution later subsumed into Balliol College). One of these men is very likely our man.

Sig. T4R (detail): “Tho[mas] morgan[us] Ap[u]d Myntie Diocaes[is] Sa[rum]” (Thomas Morgan of Minety, Salisbury Diocese).

Thomas Morgan received his intellectual training at a time when university-educated clergy were seen as critical to the consolidation of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement and were highly sought after. Several colleges in Oxford and Cambridge (including Jesus College, Oxford, Morgan’s possible alma mater) were founded specifically to satisfy this demand. The theological education which the universities provided was conducted along explicitly disputatious lines; prospective clergy were taught how to debate and persuade, which sources to cite and what arguments to employ. Morgan’s patristic sources continued to be taught, even once their purely theological significance to Protestants had started to wane because they were useful for debating with Catholics. The members of this ‘new model clergy’ were not retained within centres of scholarship, but were dispatched into the provinces, where they could have a real impact.

It is within these historical circumstances which we should view this volume and its unusual contents. Whilst it is difficult to fathom the exact purpose of the annotations, there are several likely explanations. Combative annotations like this were sometimes used in the preparation of published rejoinders to controversial texts, although there is no specific evidence to suggest that Morgan was planning anything along these lines. He might, however, have been planning something slightly lower key, such as a sermon in which the former Bishop of Winchester was to be attacked. Or his motives might have been more private, attacking the text as an intellectual exercise, training himself for the larger fight against Catholicism.

There are many questions which remain unanswered and which will merit investigation in the future. We do not know what happened to the book during the centuries before the college acquired it in the latter half of the twentieth century. Nor, significantly, do we know how and why this volume survived when so many other sixteenth-century books perished. These details would be valuable in drawing together the complicated events to which this volume suggestively alludes. But we are, in the meantime, blessed with a remarkably vivid picture of the disputatious religious reading practices which came to the fore during the protracted years of religious turmoil in sixteenth century England.

Images by Dunstan Roberts.

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On the day after the Royal Wedding, Trinity Hall hosted its own festivities – a celebration of benefaction. Members of the Nathanael Lloyd Society were joined by Supporters of the Old Library for a delightful afternoon.

Lunch and talk in the Graham Storey Room

Drinks in the Master’s Lodge and a convivial lunch were followed by Dr John Pollard’s fascinating talk on the history of benefaction at Trinity Hall – starting at the very beginning with our founder, Bishop Bateman, who financed the establishment of the College in 1350 and also donated a number of his own books to the College library. During the talk, Dr Pollard showed us  the Founder’s Cup (brought out of the silver vault especially for the occasion and handled carefully with white gloves). It was a real treat to see this great treasure!

Nathanael Lloyd

Nathanael Lloyd

Nathanael Lloyd was another great benefactor of Trinity Hall and his generosity left a permanent stamp on the College. Through his sponsorship, the medieval buildings of Front Court were brought up-to-date by re-facing them with ashlar blocks. Lloyd’s benefaction is responsible for the pleasing aspect of Front Court as we know it today.

Front Court – General Admission 2010

We also have a number of books in the Old Library given to us by this former Master (1710-1735) identified either by the librarian’s inscription or by Lloyd’s distinctive signature.

Not easy to read – but this really is Nathanael Lloyd’s signature!

The afternoon continued with a visit to the Old Library, an exhibition of recent gifts and conservation work in the Chetwode Room and was rounded off by a relaxing tea on the terrace outside the Old Library. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the afternoon was the chance to talk to the rare books conservators, Melvin Jefferson and Edward Cheese of the Cambridge Colleges’ Conservation Consortium. They answered many questions and also brought along a variety of conservation materials for people to touch and see: from vellum and Japanese paper to native dyed Nigerian goatskin and examples of medieval binding structures.

Exhibition

Exhibition in the Chetwode Room

On the day we were particularly fortunate to receive donations of rare books from two Supporters of the Old Library. Alumnus Dr Philipp Mohr (TH 1990) brought us three superb (and by no means light) volumes of Papal Bulls all the way from his home in Germany.

Papal Bulls

Heavy tomes

They complement the volumes on Papal Councils already in our collection and are a valuable addition to our collection of canon law (historically a speciality of the College). The earlier volumes of “Magnum bullarium Romanum” were published in Lyon in 1655 and are illustrated with engraved portraits of the Popes.

Pope Clement

Impressively powerful fellow

The later volumes, published in Luxembourg between 1725 and 1730, have a pleasing view of the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome on the title page.

Rome

A breezy day in Rome

At one point in the past this set of volumes belonged to B. Vanden Boom – whom I have been unable to identify. If anyone can help do let me know!

Vanden Boom

Stencilled mark of ownership

Two years ago we were fortunate to be the recipients of a magnificent three-volume work on theology by the great lawyer Hugo Grotius, also given to us by Dr Mohr. These books joined the Old Library’s existing volumes on law by Grotius that have been in the collection for centuries. It is nice that this previous donation has been joined by a further donation of books from Dr Mohr’s library.  Some book collectors start young and Dr Mohr is no exception. He purchased his first rare book at the age of twelve!

The other donation on the day was of four books from alumnus, the Reverend Bill Cave (TH 1973). One of these was found at the bottom of a box in a Cumbrian junk shop and is now valued at over £2,000. Of these books, more anon!

Credits:

Thanks are due to Glen Sharp, Joss Poulton and Trinity Hall for the photos of Front Court, the exhibition and Nathanael Lloyd respectively.

And to Wikipedia for additonal information.

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