The Broughton Missal

Item date: early 15th century
Grant Value: £15,000
Item cost: £125,000
Item date acquired: 2015
Item institution: Lambeth Palace Library
Town/City: London
London borough: LB Lambeth

An early fifteenth-century illuminated missal following the use of the diocese of York. Despite the fact that most pre-Reformation parish churches and chapels in the Province of York must have owned at least one York Use missal, surviving examples are exceptionally rare – much rarer than the corresponding Sarum Use missals used in the southern province. Only twelve are now known and the Broughton Missal is the only one to have remained in private hands. Each of these surviving missals, which range in date from the 13th to the 15th century, differs in text and decoration; each offers new insights into the way in which the mass was performed according to York Use and the way in which it was experienced by the congregation.

This manuscript, still in its original late medieval binding, employs two main sizes of gothic script to denote liturgical function, with capitals, rubrics and major feasts picked out in red and music in square notation on four-line red staves. The decoration consists of large illuminated initials in gold, blue and red, with elaborate borders around the entire page, or around much of the page, with coloured foliation and other motifs, and extensive penwork flourishing. The style of penwork and illumination is English, of the first quarter of the fifteenth century, and of high quality, but the exact circumstances of the Broughton Missal’s production remain unknown. It may be the product of a London workshop, or of a scribe trained in London, but it is perhaps more likely to derive from one of the provincial towns which were becoming established as centres of commercial (non-monastic) book-making. York was one of these centres and the layout and articulation of the text of the Latin mass reflect the local modifications made for liturgical practice at York Minster. Fifteenth-century inscriptions in this manuscript, however, make it clear that, from very early on, it was in use in the parish church of All Hallows, Broughton (three miles north of Preston, Lancashire, in the diocese of York), and it may even have been commissioned for this particular church.

Lambeth Palace Library had no manuscript missals for York use prior to this acquisition. The rarity of York as opposed to Sarum (Salisbury) Missals has long been recognised.  Of the printed editions prior to the Reformation, some 66 are of Sarum Use, just 5 of York Use.
The York Missal has never been made fully available to scholars and offers rich potential for research, both by liturgical and ecclesiastical historians – on the text and annotations – as well as by codicologists and historians of illumination and binding.