Late Medieval Books of Hours and Their Early Tudor Readers In and Around London

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The practice of religion formed one of the strongest continuities between late medieval and early modern culture, and was by no means completely changed by the English reformations of the mid sixteenth century. This essay explores continuities in personal devotional practice in this period by focusing on the material evidence of reading and book use. In particular, attention is directed towards medieval manuscript books of hours that were owned and used by Tudor readers. The specific manuscripts that form the core of this discussion are: the 'Dewick' hours, whose present whereabouts is unknown; Victoria and Albert Museum, MS Reid 44; Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Library MS 39; and British Library, MS Additional 73518. These manuscripts do not form a group, though the owners of the last three may be connected through an extended and complex network of familial associations, allowing comparisons to be drawn with some other owners of other devotional books. Such volumes were typically customised by the addition of extra prayers and devotions, and by the inscription of family records. They were passed down through generations or bequeathed to friends, and their study offers insights into a broad network of Tudor readers based in or close to London. Personal and professional interconnections between some of the owners of these volumes are teased out by reference to early modern wills and other public records. And particular attention is paid to the devotional materials and prayers that were added to the volumes' original contents, since this later phase of textual production can itself reveal much about contemporary reception; that this newly added material was not always 'new' further demonstrates the longevity of medieval devotional texts. The chronological focus of this essay is mainly 1470–1560.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManuscript and Print in Late Medieval and Tudor Britain
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honour of Professor Julia Boffey
EditorsTamara Atkin, Jaclyn Rajsic
Place of PublicationWoodbridge
PublisherD. S. Brewer
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781787444829
ISBN (Print)9781843845317
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2019


  • Medieval manuscripts
  • book of hours
  • London
  • religion
  • reading
  • sixteenth century
  • Tudor
  • prayers
  • annotations


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