Leicester Abbey: Medieval history, archaeology and manuscript studies

02 November 2006


 Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society 2(0-9542388-1-8)

Laying bare an abbey's past: Christopher Currie recommends this thorougsurvey

THE pleasure of this book, whose title reveals its contentsis not diminished by the fact that it does not replace Hamilton Thompson'classic study of 1949. Rather, it complements and amplifies it in mandirections that would have been inaccessible when Thompson wrote; and at timeit corrects it, as in the matter of the date and manner of foundation, whichthe Revd David Crouch reminds us here, was significantly earlier than thconventional date of 1143.

The essays by a star-studded cast of authors include Buckley and others othe archaeology; Anthony Squires on the post-Dissolution landscape; GeoffreMartin on Knighton's Chronicle; Teresa Webber and Michael Gullick othe abbey's library, its bindings, and its scattered MS survivors; DaviPostles on its urban property; and David Crouch on the early charters.

Several papers include, as appen-dices, important editions of collections odocuments. Church Times readers, depending on their tastes anchurchmanship, may be piqued by Anthony Roe's chapter on Abbot Sadyngton'onychomancy - now we can guess what goes on in those American nail bars - or bDavid Dawson's on a Limoges incense-boat dug up in the sacristy. (Webber sinkM. R. James without trace, but he resurfaces in Gullick and in Roe. Evesuperseded pioneers should not be ignored).

The many illustrations afford sweetness as well as light. This book can brecommended to anyone with a serious interest in the abbey.

The book is available from Dr A. D. McWhirr, 37 Dovedale Road, LeicesteLE2 2DN, for 25 plus 5 p. & p.

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