The Bridlington Breviary: Celebrating the Heritage


Bridlington Priory in its Historical Context, 1113 - 2013

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© The copyright of each paper from the Priory 900 Celebrating the Heritage Conference belongs to its respective author. Published by Bridlington Priory, Bridlington.


Anna Parsons-Howard

I was delighted to be asked to speak about the Bridlington Breviary as part of the Priory 900 conference exactly 10 years after I had last visited Bridlington to work on the breviary . This manuscript was a major part of my doctoral studies on the liturgy and chant of the Augustinian Canons of Medieval Yorkshire . I am one of the few people to have worked on this manuscript in modern times .

I started working on Augustinian manuscripts for the Divine Office in about 2000, concentrating initially on the many liturgical manuscripts surviving from Guisborough Priory in North Yorkshire . As part of my research I decided to try and look at, and compare, every single Augustinian office manuscript extant from medieval England . For the best part of a year I travelled all over the country comparing and collating information from manuscripts from Augustinian houses. Quite late in the proceedings I came across a reference to a manuscript recently sold at auction which was believed to be a fourteenth-century breviary from Bridlington Priory . The reference was vague so I contacted the then vicar, The Revd John Wardle, and he was able to tell me that the manuscript had been acquired by the Bayle Museum in Bridlington .

The Lords Feoffees of the manor of Bridlington bought the manuscript from an anonymous vendor at Christie’s on Wednesday 24 November 2021 (lot no 15)1, and placed it in the Bayle Museum . In 1994, via Christie’s, they wrote to the vendor to ask about its history and provenance . They never received a response . It therefore appeared that this manuscript had appeared out of thin air with no previous history .

The Cottingham or Haltemprice Breviary

At the same time as I found the Bridlington Breviary I was also trying to trace a missing fourteenth-century breviary referred to variously as the Cottingham or Haltemprice Breviary . The reason this manuscript has two different names, depending on what literature you read, is that the Priory was first founded at Cottingham in around 1320, but following legal issues arising, it was moved a few miles down the road to the village of Newton after 1325 and thereafter known as Haltemprice Priory. 2

This breviary was first described by Eeles in his book on the Holyrood Ordinale3. He wrote:

In 1323 Archbishop Melton of York ordered the Augustinian Canons in his diocese to follow the use of the church of York . The Rev E .S . Dewick’s late fourteenth-century Cottingham breviary, which follows neither York nor Sarum shows that this order was at any rate not wholly effective.4

The next reference I found was in a 1936 article by F . Wormald on a liturgical calendar from Guisborough Priory . He had traced it to a sale at Sotheby’s in 1918 but was not aware of its whereabouts after that .

Lastly there was a fourteenth century Breviary from Cottingham Priory, but I have unfortunately been unable to trace its present whereabouts . It formerly belonged to the Rev E .S . Dewick and was sold with others of his MSS in 1918 . (FN . Sotheby Sale Catalogue, 17 October, 1918 lot 20.5)

At some point in the next few decades it was acquired by bookseller Bernard Halliday of Leicester . Ker’s Medieval Libraries of Great Britain 1964 edition lists it as being in his possession:

Haltemprice (or Cottingham), Yorkshire Augustinian Priory of BVM and Holy Cross . Leicester, Bernard Halliday . Breviarum s .xiv .116

The entry in the 1987 supplement to this volume has in addition ‘now sold and untraced’. 7

I did all my initial work on the Bridlington Breviary from a microfilm and did not see the original manuscript until 2003 . When I did see it I noticed that on the fly leaf someone had written the word Haltemprice in pencil . I realised that it was very possible that the Bridlington Breviary might in fact be the missing Haltemprice Breviary . I set about comparing descriptions of the respective manuscripts and I was able to confirm that they are indeed one and the same.

With a common history now confirmed, the twentieth-century history of the Bridlington Breviary can be summarised as follows:

  • Eeles refers to a Cottingham Breviary, belonging to the Revd E .S . Dewick, in his study of the Revd E .S . Dewick.
  • 1964 – ‘Haltemprice (or Cottingham) Breviary’ in possession of Bernard Halliday of Leicester as listed in Ker’s Medieval Libraries of Great Britain . By 1987 it was sold and untraced.
  • 1993 – ‘Bridlington Breviary’ bought at auction by the Lords Feoffees and placed in the Bayle Museum in Bridlington
  • 1994 – The Lords Feoffees write to the anonymous vendor via Christie’s to ask about its provenance but never receive a response .
  • 2003 – I examine the manuscript and realise that the Cottingham and Bridlington Breviaries are one and the same.


This breviary has had two very different identities; for most of the twentieth century it was the Cottingham or Haltemprice Breviary but, without knowledge or reference to that history, it was attributed to Bridlington at its re-emergence in the 1990s .

So whose breviary was it? With the benefit of hindsight I have reviewed the evidence for each of the attributions . Each presents a good case, but perhaps the most perplexing thing about the different attributions, is that some of the evidence is common to both and has been taken by cataloguers to point to different provenances .


The Sotheby’s catalogue of 1920 points to coats of arms on various folios which it identifies as belonging to Thomas, Lord Wake, whose chief estates were in Lincolnshire . The priory of Cottingham was founded in 1320 by Wake who brought canons from the house of Brunne or Bourne in Lincolnshire . The catalogue states that these same arms were used by the Priory itself. 8

The Christie’s catalogue of 1993 points to the very same coats of arms and identifies them as belonging the Fitzjohn family . Eustace Fitzjohn who died in 1157 was a generous benefactor of Bridlington Priory . The arms are common to the Fitzjohn and Hungerford families because a daughter of Sir Adam Fitzjohn married Walter de Hungerford in around 1330, and he, on the marriage, adopted the Fitzjohn arms as his own .

So whose arms appear in the breviary, Wake or Fitzjohn? There are three main occurrences of the shield, each of which is slightly different .

On 42v the shield appears twice, once in the margin as part of an intricate design in red pen, and once at the bottom of the page . At the top of the margin is written in a later hand ‘the arms of the family of the hungerfords’ and the shield at the bottom of page is accompanied by a statement in the same eighteenth-century hand which reads ‘The Arms of Sir George Hungerford Baron of Farley Castle, Hampshire as above – thus blazoned . Sable two Bars Argent in Chief, three Plates .’ The lower shield and its accompanying text are almost certainly contemporary with one another and it seems clear that the writer of the statement has drawn the shield to demonstrate its similarity to the one in the margin . The medieval version of the shield, though drawn in red and white, is shaded the right way round (light bars and plates on a dark background) to suggest that it is indeed Fitzjohn/Hungerford rather than Wake . Whoever wrote the later note certainly believed that it was a Hungerford shield, though this commentary was written centuries after the creation of the manuscript.

The second occurrence of the shield is on folio 106v . It is again in red and white but the plates have been coloured in in black . Rather than this proving that it is not the Fitzjohn shield, however, the addition of a third colour to a two-colour shield could suggest doodling on the part of the scribe rather than a conscious effort to fill in the circles .

The third time the shield is drawn (folio 119v) the shading corresponds to the Wake shield with the bars and plates as dark on a light background with additional decoration . This could be evidence supporting the Wake attribution, or, again, a scribe doodling and embellishing upon the general theme .

Based on these three drawings it is very difficult to be sure whose shield this is meant to represent . The scribe was clearly working on the general theme of one of these shields, but in practice was not very careful in the way he portrayed it . It is easy therefore to see why the case has been made for both the Fitzjohn/Hungerford and Wake families .

Other evidence

The manuscript contains two references to the Hungerford family added in later hands .

The example cited above, which appears on folio 42v, was an eighteenth-century attempt to stake a claim to its apparent Hungerford history . In addition there is a reference to the Hungerford family in the form of an inscription in an early seventeenth-century hand on folio 98v . It states in Latin that ‘the book belongs to James Hungerford as long as he continues in the priesthood . Otherwise it will become the property of William de Areton . The book must not be sold .’ Whatever the full story behind this inscription, it is probable that whoever gave the book to James Hungerford did so on the basis of a perceived family connection with the manuscript.9

The attribution of Cottingham or Haltemprice presumably came from the Revd E .S . Dewick, and the Sotheby’s catalogue was simply reprinting his thoughts on the manuscript’s provenance . Why would Dewick go so completely against the Hungerford evidence written on the manuscript by successive generations? Why did he choose to ignore this evidence and decide that the arms belonged to the Wakes rather than the Fitzjohns/Hungerfords? Wake was admittedly the founder of Cottingham and Haltemprice Priories rather than just a benefactor, but Eustace Fitzjohn was generous to new Bridlington, donating amongst other things the church of Scalby and land at Cloughton.10

There is an inscription at the end of the breviary in the same hand as the rest of the manuscript which reads ‘ex dono fundatoris nostri’ . The Christie’s cataloguers point to this as referring to Eustace Fitzjohn . The inscription could mean either ‘given by our founder’ or ‘from the endowment of our founder’ which is more likely given that Eustace was long dead by this time . Such an inscription could just as easily refer to Thomas Wake so it is not a very helpful piece of evidence without context.

The Calendar

One of the principal pieces of evidence offered by the Christie’s cataloguers with regard to a Bridlington provenance is the inclusion of John of Bridlington in the calendar .

John of Bridlington has been added on 9 October . He died in 1379 and the entry is clearly earlier than his canonization in 1401, as it does not list him as a saint . (His present feast day is 21 October)11

The inclusion of John of Bridlington before the date of his canonisation could indeed be relevant evidence, but contrary to the assertions of the catalogue, the feast of St John of Bridlington was always celebrated on 10 October12 (the date of his death) before the Reformation, and not on his modern feast day of 21 October .

In spite of the cataloguers’ misunderstanding of the feast days of John of Bridlington, the fact he is listed before his canonisation is still relevant . The entry is best examined in comparison with the calendar of another Augustinian manuscript from a Yorkshire priory . In the calendar of the Guisborough Antiphoner13 ‘S. Iohannes de Bridlyngton’ has been added in a fifteenth-century hand . Wormald thought that this entry was probably contemporary with his canonisation in 1401.14 This suggests that other local houses did not bother with the inclusion of John of Bridlington in their calendars until after his canonisation whereas Bridlington Priory added him immediately after his death, some twenty years earlier .

There is one final piece of evidence in favour of Haltemprice which was not quoted in the Sotheby’s catalogue and is possibly therefore a red herring . In the same way that an early inclusion of John of Bridlington might indicate a Bridlington connection, the manuscript contains an obit which might refer to a prior of Haltemprice . The entry on 30 March reads (as quoted by the Christie’s cataloguer) ‘Obit of Nichalannd[?] Holdsworth, in the year of our Lord Md hundredth xxviii (1528), xxx day of March .’ This could in theory be a reference to Nicholas Haldesworth who was prior of Haltemprice between 1518 and 1528, but given the proliferation of spellings in this period this might simply be coincidence.15


The cases for both Bridlington and Haltemprice have merit, though the presence of Hungerford-related entries in both the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries show that more people over the centuries have veered towards a Bridlington provenance than a Haltemprice one .

There is one piece of information in the calendar which might decide definitively whose manuscript this was . On folio 59v in the calendar the 17 March is listed as the Dedication of the Church, Principal Festival . I was unable to establish the dedication dates of either Bridlington or Haltemprice . If any information regarding the exact date of dedication of either Priory church were to come to light, the puzzle might be solved.16 Whatever its original provenance, this breviary is clearly now Bridlington’s and I shall continue to refer to it as such!

The contents of the Breviary

The Bridlington Breviary is a beautiful manuscript dating from the late fourteenth century . It contains the complete texts for the office, a calendar, psalter, canticles and litany and other bits and pieces . It is described in the Christie’s catalogue as being ‘written in black and brown in a gothic liturgical script by two scribes, rubrics in red, initials throughout in blue with elaborate marginal red penwork decoration …’ The catalogue later describes the marginal drawings in red ink as ‘very accomplished and typical of fourteenth-century English manuscript illustration .’

When I came to work on the Bridlington Breviary in detail I put together a short catalogue of the contents, parts of which are reproduced below .

Section Notes and Observations
Outer Binding ‘Breviarum monasticum . Manuscript circa Annum 1342 .’ Small piece of paper with 29 typed on it .
Binding Notes

Notes in pencil include the word ‘Haltemprice’ and ‘Breviary fols 29 Hungerford family’ .

Someone wrote ‘Breviarum ad usum …’ now obscured .

In top right hand corner of endpaper in pen is written ‘June 1816 D’s sale by Evans . -10-’ .

Temporale 1-62v Complete

Illuminated capital on Venite, Advent One – purple, gold and blue .

Decoration all in red with blue capitals .

f .42v Elaborate red penwork in left hand margin depicting rabbits or hares, trefoils, a man with a cross-bow, a bird etc . At the top is a shield . In a later hand at the top of the margin is a note saying ‘the arms of the family of the hungerfords .’ Slightly obscured on left so margin has obviously been cut and we are obviously missing part of the arms as well .

In the same later hand at the bottom of the page is a larger drawing of the armorial shield with a tree on either side, the following text across the pair of folios: ‘The Arms of Sr George Hungerford Baron of Farley Castle, Hampshire as above – thus blazoned . Sable two Bars Argent in Chief, three Plates .’

f .42v The first lesson for Matins on Ascension Day has a gold, blue and purple illuminated capital .

f .44r-end of Temporale: A number of leaf sketches in bottom margins .

f .46r Bell motif in red pen in central margin .

f .57r There is an inserted note which reads ‘the leaves in this quire are misplaced . The order should be 61, 62, 57, 58, 59, 60, 63, 64’

This looks like an early twentieth-century hand and means the numbering of the foliation was probably done after this binding .

Calendar 59v-60v f .59v Note 17 March, Dedication of the Church, Principal Festival . Notes at top in English (perhaps sixteenth or early seventeenth century) but cut so partly illegible . At bottom obit for Nicholas? Holdsworth added for March 30 in English .
Temporale 61r- 62 Misbound section of Temporale .
Calendar 63r- 64v

f .64r Johannes de Bridlington is added between Dionysius (9 October) and Paulinus of York (10 October) .

Saints in the calendar but not in the Sanctorale include St Antony, St Emerentiana, St Werburg and St Ignatius .

Psalter 66r – 95v

Eight division psalter with principal illuminations as follows:

f .66r Beatus vir is headed by elaborate gold and coloured capital with branch with trefoils down left margin and dog curled up in branch with bells on it along top margin .

f .69r Gold, blue and purple capital for Dominus illuminacio…

f .72r Gold, blue and purple capital for Dixi custodiam…

f .74v Gold, orange and dark red for Dixit insipiens…

f .77r Blue, gold and pink for Salvum me fac…

f .80r Blue, gold and purple for Exultate domine…

f .83r Blue, gold, purple and orange for Exultate domino…

f .86r Blue and gold for Dixit dominus…

Canticles 95v-96v Te deum, Benedicite omnia etc
Litany 96v- Saints include the following: Cuthbert, Wilfrid, Augustine, Oswald, among the women Etheldreda and Thecla
Offices 97v

At the end of the cued prayers at the end of the litany, there are six collects, (only the first two are marked as such):

Deus qui corda, Deus cum populum, Deus qui nos a sedi, Respice quesumus domine, Deus a quo sancta and Deus qui es sanctorum tuorum…

Then there are the complete provisions for ferial Lauds and other items from Tuesday to Saturday

Inscription 98v

Inscription, in an early seventeenth-century hand stating in Latin that the book belongs to James Hungerford as long as he continues in the priesthood . Otherwise it will become the property of William de Areton . The book must not be sold .

Three leaves have been cut out before the Sanctorale begins with St Nicholas . St Andrew unusually comes at the end of the Sanctorale .

Sanctorale 99r17

f .99r Illumination for St Nicholas . Swaddled baby in cot . Gold, blue, green, purple.18

f .109v Initial for first antiphon of First Vespers of Annunciation in gold, purple and blue with trefoil-like leaf in middle .

f .119v Hungerford shield in red pen in inverted colours .

f .124v Gold, pink and purple letter for Hodie at the beginning of the first lesson at Matins at the Assumption .

After the end of St Andrew there are various cues and prayers.19

St Augustine 143v

Rubric instructing that the Creed should be said, in other words sung in Mass, on the feast of St Augustine but not in the octave . Further rubrics on prayers .

A list of daily prayers for Matins and Vespers followed by a similar list for prayers at the little hours and finally a list for Compline .

Faded note then ‘Hec liber scripsit circa annum 1342.’20

Common 144r

Small illuminated capital on first chapter (for an Apostle) in gold blue, purple .

After standard Offices on 152r there are collects specific to saints preceded by a line and a response . They are described as suffrages which are to be said at Matins and Vespers: Holy Relics, Michael, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Apostles and Evangelists, St Stephen, St Augustine, St Nicholas, a confessor, Mary Magdalene, St Katherine, All Saints at Vespers, Peace at Vespers, All Saints at Matins, Peace at Matins, Memorial of the Cross at Matins and Vespers .

Offices 153v Different, later hand . Birth of Philip and James, complete Office .

The Bridlington Breviary and medieval liturgy

The Bridlington Breviary was of great importance to my doctoral research on Augustinian liturgy in the York Province . It is one of a small group of surviving manuscripts for the Divine Office containing a hitherto unidentified liturgy which was apparently current among the Augustinian canons of the province from the late thirteenth century to the Reformation .

I took as the starting point for my research the many surviving liturgical books from Guisborough Priory . Augustinian liturgy had, until the end of the twentieth century, been largely overlooked by scholars . This was partly owing to the supposition that all Augustinian priories used the liturgical uses of their secular dioceses and were thus unremarkable . In broad terms, a priory in the South would be expected to follow the Use of Sarum and in the North would be expected to follow the use of York with variations for certain saints including St Augustine .

Armed with the research of David Chadd and later Timothy Morris21 who both identified variant liturgies proving that the Augustinians of England did in fact cultivate Uses distinct from the secular norm, I set about the painstaking task of comparing a variety of chant texts from English Augustinian sources and a wide range of contemporary liturgies from all over England, both monastic and secular .

Existing work on the chant repertory (or liturgical texts) of Guisborough had already established its relationship with the Benedictine Use of Durham and other authors had likewise noted similarities between the Guisborough liturgy and the secular Use of York.22 My own observations confirmed these relationships, but I found that there was more to the liturgy than just borrowings from other sources . So distinctive was the chant repertory of Guisborough in many sections that I realised that it could in fact be called a Use in its own right .

From the results of my wider liturgical comparisons it became immediately apparent that Guisborough Priory was only one of a larger group of Augustinian houses in northern England using a similar liturgy which, while related to York and Durham, was in itself distinct from all of the other sources examined . The other three manuscripts in this new group were all from northern Augustinian houses and it was the first time that their liturgical content had been included in such a far-reaching liturgical comparison .

Surviving Office manuscripts from northern English Augustinian houses

MS ref Type of source Provenance Date
Cambridge, Sidney Sussex College 62 Diurnal Guisborough Late 13th century
Douai Abbey 4 Breviary Guisborough Late 13th century
British Library Add . 35285 Antiphoner and Missal Guisborough 1270 c .
Oxford, Keble 32 Breviary Personal property of the last prior of Walsingham, Norfolk Late 15th century
Cambridge, Jesus College 77 or Q .G .30 Diurnal Unknown- Newburgh ? Late 15th century
Bayle Gate Museum, Bridlington (no shelfmark) Breviary Bridlington 1380 c .

While the Guisborough manuscripts are well-known, little attention had previously been paid to the other three in the northern Augustinian group . The fifteenth-century diurnal from Jesus College Cambridge, has in the past been suggested as a Bridlington MS, but now we have a point of reference with Bridlington we know this is not the case . It has no calendar but does contain a collect for the feast of St John of Bridlington . I have surmised that it might be from Newburgh Priory in Yorkshire but the evidence is circumstantial. 23

The other lesser-known manuscript in the group is a fifteenth-century breviary housed at Keble College Oxford . It has up till now been catalogued as an East Anglian MS because of its inclusion of an East Anglian Calendar and the fact its last owner was prior of Walsingham . Armed with the geographical evidence implied by the liturgy, I was able to re-examine this breviary and establish that the calendar and breviary had originally been separate, but had been bound together at some point before the early sixteenth century to make the manuscript we now have .

The liturgy of the northern Augustinians

So what is it about this group of manuscripts which makes them a distinct liturgical group? The three sources from Guisborough are, as might be expected, identical to one another and will henceforth be thought of as one source.24 Beyond this none of these manuscripts is identical to any another; on the whole they use the same chant items in the same liturgical positions much of the time, but there might be differences between manuscripts for example in the order in which the chant items are placed within a service . Nevertheless, in spite of a lack of total unity between this group of manuscripts, the details of the liturgy they contain are both sufficiently closely related within the group and distinct from other liturgies of the period to justify the label of a separate liturgical group .

The liturgy that the group follows has borrowings, as previously noted, from the Benedictine liturgy at Durham, and the secular Use of York . What makes it so remarkable, however, is the inclusion of a number of unusual chant texts . Some of these appear to be unique to the group while the majority, though present in other liturgical sources, are used in completely different liturgical positions on different days . This liturgy has, in other words, been the subject of conscious design .

The following table gives an example of the character of the northern Augustinian liturgy. 25This comparison of a variety of English sources for First Vespers of Christmas Day shows that while there is much consensus in the choice of chant texts across a wide range of contemporary medieval sources, the manuscripts from the group of northern Augustinian houses present a distinct list of items .

MS Reference

BL Add . 35285

Oxford, Keble 32

Bridlington Breviary


Jesus 77

BL Harley 4664


Worcester F .160

Bodleian, Bodley 547 BL Harley 2856 Use of York

Use of Salisbury

Hereford p .9 .vii

Type of source and provenance Manuscripts of the Northern Augustinian Liturgical Group Breviary Coldingham (Durham) OSB and Antiphoner Worcester OSB Breviary West Midlands OSA Diurnal London OSA Printed Breviary Printed Breviary Salisbury Use and Breviary Hereford Use

First Vespers, Christmas Day

Antiphon Missus est gabriel angelus ad… Scitote quia prope… Rex pacificus… Rex pacificus… Scitote quia prope… Rex pacificus…
Antiphon Maria autem conservabat… Levate capita… Magnificatus est rex… Magnificatus est rex… Levate capita… Magnificatus est rex…
Antiphon Ecce ancilla domini… Completi sunt dies… Scitote quia prope… Scitote quia prope… Magnificatus est rex… Sciotote quia prope…
Antiphon Completi sunt dies… Ecce completa sunt… Levate capita… Completi sunt dies… Completi sunt dies… Levate capita…
Antiphon Ecce completa sunt… Completi sunt dies… Ecce completa sunt… Ecce completa sunt… Completi sunt dies…

This example is important not only because it shows complete unity between the northern Augustinian sources, distinguishing them clearly from the other liturgies examined, but also because it shows a conscious design in the choice of those chant items . Only the northern Augustinian sources use this combination of texts which has a strong Marian theme.26

Documentary evidence

The liturgical evidence outlined places Bridlington as one of a group of northern Augustinian houses using a distinctive liturgy from the third quarter of the thirteenth century (when the Guisborough Antiphoner was written) to at least the late fifteenth century (when Keble 32 and Jesus 77 were written) . In addition there survives documentary evidence which shows that Bridlington Priory probably had a key role in the creation of this liturgy .

Most of the archival evidence surviving is in the form of minutes from provincial chapter meetings . These extensive sources give an account, in a period over a century, of the formation of liturgical rules and customs which were to be observed by Augustinian Houses in the York Province . The account of the 1265 Augustinian chapter of the York Province states that the canons should live under a single rule without any variety of regular observances impeding their unanimity.

27 It was decided that seven men experienced in the regular observances should be chosen from seven houses including Bridlington and Guisborough and meet together at the Priory of Drax on the Sunday after Michaelmas bringing with them copies of the customs of their houses . They were then to choose the best parts from each source and put it into writing ‘so that nothing new might be invented by these men nor the Divine Offices changed in any way whatsoever’ .

The minutes from meetings over the next few decades detail the completion of a set of liturgical statutes drawn up at Healaugh Park, and subsequent attempts at revision and enforcement of these statutes in Augustinian priories across the York Province . The statutes do not survive and their exact nature is not known, but it can be inferred that most referred to liturgical practice, though to what extent they contained a complete exemplar of liturgical texts is not clear . Priors of individual houses had the right to refer any problems with the statutes to the general chapter for consideration, but dissension was clearly widespread, as illustrated by the minutes of 1285 which prescribed recommended punishments for non-conformity, such as suspension from taking part in the liturgy and denial of bread, second meal and vegetables .

After extended disobedience throughout the province, a major revision was arranged to be undertaken in 1302 at Drax where the representative canons from nine houses including Bridlington were to make ‘amendments, corrections, additions and deletions to the statutes of the Park [i .e . Healaugh], and also to consider certain other regular observances …’

Evidence from the rest of the fourteenth century suggests that while disagreements persisted throughout the period, the statues continued to be in use . In 1380, the statutes of the Park were revoked but were quickly reinstated in 1383 to ‘be observed for the future just as they were observed before’

Correlation of evidence

The wealth of information provided by the documentary evidence supports not only the liturgical hypothesis that the northern Augustinians cultivated their own distinctive liturgy in this period, but also goes some way to explaining some of the inconsistencies in that liturgical evidence .

The various documentary sources provide circumstantial evidence, in the form of a close correlation of dates, linking the development of the liturgy to that of the statutes . The earliest examples of the northern Augustinian liturgy are three sources from Guisborough Priory, all of which date from the second half of the thirteenth century . Guisborough was certainly represented at both the Drax and Healaugh Park meetings to discuss liturgical standardisation, and so the office liturgy in these manuscripts may well be a contemporary reflection of the new practice .

The next surviving source is the Bridlington Breviary which has been dated to c . 1380 . This coincides with renewed affirmation of the statutes in the 1383 chapter account . Discrepancies between the Bridlington Breviary and its earlier Guisborough counterparts may well be the result of different stages of reform: the Guisborough sources representing the initial discussions from the late thirteenth century, and the Bridlington source representing the reforms which took place after 1302 . The last two sources in the northern Augustinian group, the breviary Keble 32 and the diurnal Jesus 77, are both from the late fifteenth century . These two sources are the closest to one another in liturgical content and may represent a later stage of liturgical revision and increased standardisation within the Use in this period .

Unfortunately, while the process of revision seems to account for some discrepancies between the four sources of the northern Augustinian group, it seems very unlikely that absolute standardisation of the liturgy across the York Province was achieved at any given point . As it stands, however, the chapters and other documents relating to the statutes do offer tantalising evidence to support the hypothesis that the statutes were directly related to the development of an Augustinian liturgical use which persisted in the North of England in Bridlington and other houses from the 1260s to the dissolution.28


The re-emergence of the Bridlington Breviary was a very exciting event in its own right . In the context of my research it was an extraordinary stroke of luck as it provided key evidence in my study of the liturgy of the northern Augustinians . Liturgical and archival evidence points strongly to the fact the Augustinian canons of the York Province maintained a distinctive liturgical rite for over two hundred years . This discovery ties in with the earlier work of other scholars who similarly identified variant liturgies cultivated by Augustinian houses in other parts of medieval England . Such discoveries raise the possibility that there are more distinctive medieval liturgies which have yet to be identified, and any such discoveries will be, like this one, the liturgical equivalent of identifying a new species .


1   Christie’s, London King St, Books and Manuscripts Sale 5085 (24 November 2021), Catalogue, pp. 22-23.

2   For further details see ‘Houses of Austin Canons: Priory of Haltemprice’, A History of the County of York, Vol. 3 (1974), pp. 213-216.

3 &nsbp; F.C. Eeles, The Holyrood Ordinale, A Scottish Version of a Directory of English Augustinian Canons, with Manual and other Liturgical Forms, The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, Seventh Volume (Edinburgh, 1914).

4   F.C. Eeles, The Holyrood Ordinale, p. xxxv. As we shall see, the documentary evidence quoted later in the article is further proof that Archbishop Melton’s order was largely ignored.

5   F. Wormald, ‘A Liturgical Calendar from Guisborough Priory, with some Obits’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 31 (Leeds, 1934), p. 6.

6   N.R. Ker (ed.), Medieval Libraries of Great Britain, a List of Surviving Books (London, 1964), p. 95.

7   N.R. Ker, A.G. Watson (ed.), Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books, Supplement to the Second Edition (London, 1987), p. 39.

8   The fact, cited in the Sotheby’s catalogue, that the arms of Wake are the same as those of Cottingham Priory would appear to be a compelling piece of evidence linking the manuscript to Cottingham. In practice Haltemprice Priory, which had moved to its new site in 1325, adopted different arms – a white cross paty on a black shield – although it is not clear at exactly what point this happened. The British Museum holds the foundation seal of 1322 which contains both the Wake shield and the shield with the cross paty.

9   As it happens, the main part of the Hungerford family were staunch Parliamentarians and Puritans in the early seventeenth century and the apparent presence of an Anglican priest among their number is an interesting anomaly. There is doubtless more to this story, but for the purposes of this article it is merely another clue as to the provenance of the manuscript.

10   Chartulary of Bridlington Priory as quoted in W. Farrer (ed.), Early Yorkshire Charters (Edinburgh, 1914), Vol. 1., p. 282.

11   Christie’s Catalogue (as above), p. 22.

12   9 October is a further mistake in the catalogue.

13British Library Add. 35285.

14   F. Wormald, ‘A Liturgical Calendar from Guisborough Priory, with some Obits’, pp. 7 and 25

15   D. Smith (ed.), The Heads of Religious Houses: England and Wales, III. 1377-1540 (Cambridge, 2008), p. 436. Alternative spellings suggested by Smith are Haldworth and Holdeworthe.

16   Records of dedication ceremonies in contemporary sources are few and usually brief. See A. Binns, Dedications of Monastic Houses in England and Wales, 1066-1216 (Bury St Edmunds, 1989), p. 15.

17   For complete contents of the Sanctorale see A.F. Parsons, ‘The Use of Guisborough: The Liturgy and Chant of the Augustinian Canons of the York Province in the Later Middle Ages’, PhD thesis (University of Exeter, 2004), Appendix Four.

18   The fact that the only historiated initial in the manuscript is for St Nicholas might indicate a further piece of evidence linking the manuscript to Bridlington. Gervase of Canterbury’s late twelfth century Mappa Mundi and three other thirteenth-century lists of monastic houses record Bridlington’s dedication as St Mary and St Nicholas, though the double dedication is not present in Bridlington’s Cartulary. See A. Binns, Dedications of Monastic Houses in England and Wales, p. 123.

19   I could not identify these exactly but there seems to be some ferial provision for Prime.

20   This is a puzzling assertion since the Breviary has been dated to the end of the century. Presumably a note added by a later owner.

21   Chadd’s research is unpublished but was provided to Morris who summarized it in his thesis: T.M. Morris, ‘The Augustinian Use of Oseney Abbey: A Study of the Oseney Ordinal, Processional and Tonale (Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson c.939)’ DPhil thesis (University of Oxford, 1999).

22   D. Hiley, ‘Post-Pentecost Alleluias in Medieval British Liturgies’, p. 153 and D. Hiley, ‘The Norman Chant Traditions’, p. 20. R.-J. Hesbert, Corpus Antiphonalium Officii, 6 vols (Rome, 1963-79), F. Eeles, The Holyrood Ordinale, p. xxxiv.

23  For further information on the provenance of the other Augustinian manuscripts listed, see A.F. Parsons, ‘The Use of Guisborough’, Chapter Six.

24  The contents of the antiphoner (Add. 35285) are taken to represent the three Guisborough office sources in the comparisons with other sources.

25   More in-depth information and analysis on the liturgy of the northern Augustinians can be found in A.F. Parsons, The Use of Guisborough, and in articles forthcoming.

26   None of the first three texts is present anywhere in the Christmas liturgies of the other manuscripts examined; the antiphons Missus est and Ecce ancilla are present in secular and Benedictine sources at the Feast of the Annunciation, while Maria autem is not present in any English secular use.

27   H.E. Salter (ed.), Chapters of the Augustinian Canons, Canterbury and York Society, 29 (London, 1922). Complete translations of relevant documents are included in Appendix Three of A.F. Parsons, The Use of Guisborough, pp. 342-51.

28  For further discussion of the relationship between the liturgical and documentary evidence see A.F. Parsons, The Use of Guisborough, Chapter Five

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