Ephemera relating to special services at York Minster

Item date: 1880-1904
Grant Value: £500
Item cost: £500
Item date acquired: 2020
Item institution: York Minster Archives
Town/City: York
County: Yorkshire

Peter Young, Archivist, writes: The conduct of services is the primary function of York Minster, the mother church of the Northern Province, and the records of those services are, therefore, of prime importance for the study of its history, the history of the province and the history of the wider Church in England. Printed ephemera, in particular orders of service, are, where available, the best source of information about services held at the Minster.

The ephemera relating to special services contained in this volume are arranged into the following sections: ‘Advent to Christmas’, ‘Ash Wednesday to Good Friday’, ‘Easter to Whitsuntide’, ‘Special services in time of war’, ‘Military [services,] dedicatory etc.’, ‘The royal family’, ‘Archbishops, bishops and deans’, and ‘Miscellaneous’. They comprise mainly orders of service with some libretti, hymn sheets, prayer requests, memoranda, orders of procession and pamphlets. Their final system of arrangement is the second to which they have been subject: both appear to have been the work of the same person. The ephemera bear two sets of manuscript numbering (the old numbering has been struck out or amended where in conflict with the new), and the volume contains two manuscript tables of contents, one referring to the old numbering, the other referring to the new numbering. The volume’s 20th-century morocco binding, by Potter and Sons of York, is gold-tooled with ‘York Minster’, ‘Special Services’ and the Minster arms.

The earliest piece in the special-services volume appears to be the order for the installation of Arthur Perceval Purey-Cust as Dean of York, which office he held from 1880 to 1916; the same order of service is also the earliest item in the series of orders of service in the Chapter archive. It was Purey-Cust who, to popularize the Minster’s services, had the scheme of music for the week printed from 1881; and presumably it was also Purey-Cust who introduced printed orders of service.

The orders series includes only 51 items for the period covered by the special-services volume, which therefore contains a relatively large number of pieces not in the orders series. Among these pieces is a memorandum of Queen Victoria’s visit in 1893; orders for services on the 63rd anniversary of her accession (1900) and the day of her funeral (1901), the latter of which is accompanied by a slip containing the words of a hymn in her memory, written by Purey-Cust and set to music by Minster Organist Thomas Tertius Noble; a request for prayers for ‘the speedy restoration of peace in the Transvaal’ (South African War, 1899-1902); and an early order for a service ‘for Society for Preventing Cruelty to Animals’.

Some of the items in the orders series, which appears to be based on deposits made in the 1960s and 1970s by the Minster’s chamberlain, bear numbers that match the old numbering in the special-services volume. During the period covered by the volume, the chamberlain’s duties were carried out by the chapter clerk, suggesting that he may have been its compiler.

We are most grateful to Friends of National Libraries for making possible the acquisition of this valuable item.

Item Provenance
Bought from Forum Auctions (3 December 2020, lot 132)