How a medieval book gets a new jacket

When I arrived at the Cathedral in 2015, one of the saddest items I found was a volume taking refuge in a safe. In exploring it further I discovered it had been described in 1967, and was a cartulary dating from 1393. It was created by the monks at St Peter's Abbey to keep safe over 1000 deeds that recorded donations to specific aspects of the monastery's life. However my sadness was caused by the fact that it had been left at some point between 1967 and 2007 wihtout its spine or covers, and therefore it was at great risk of being damaged. It was being stored in a box to offer some protection, but could not be safely handled or displayed without risk to the unique information contained in it.

In 2018 we were successful in applying to the National Manuscript Conservation Trust for a grant to conserve this amazing volume. The repairs were undertaken by Victoria Stevens.

First the book needed to be inspected by our conservator to find out exactly what repairs were necessary.  Victoria checked the structure of the original sewing, the nature of any damage and the materials it was made from.  Katrina Powell one of her colleagues advised and helped. Conservators inspecting the manuscript
Book being cleaned Then the book was carefully cleaned with dry sponges to remove surface dirt
The spine was caked in old glue which was removed to improve the fliexibility.  After this a new set of supports were sewn to the book through the exisiting sewing holes
  Finally the new cover using no glue was attached to these new supports.  The book is no longer at risk, and looks beautiful.


A short video showing all of the stages of this conservation is available via Youtube by clicking on the image below:








The beauty of this new binding is that should we ever need to return the book to how we found it, this cover can be removed simply by cutting the newly stitching.  No glue or other chemicals have been used in
the binding, making it as safe as we can for the future of the book.  A new box for the book is being custom-made which will offer additional protection.

I am delighted to have this book returned to us, and to finally be able to share it with reseacrhers and visitors wiht confidence and pride.

Printer Printable Version

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