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Order NumberCCA-DCc-LitMs/E/42
PreviousNumbers3 loose bifolia (now ff. 76-81) previously known as LitMs/E/42/A.
Date12th century
late 15th century
DescriptionA multi-volume passional (imperfect), featuring a collection of lives of saints (legenda sanctorum) for liturgical readings throughout the year. Written at Canterbury Christ Church in the early 12th century, with later additions, and which formed part of the Christ Church monastic library. The passional is in the 14th century library catalogue as items 359 and 361-6. The leaves were reused as wrappers and binding materials in the 16th century. Further leaves survive at the British Library and at the Kent History and Library Centre.


The passional was originally compiled in seven volumes (Ker, p289 and Gameson, no 22). The surviving Canterbury fragments are now arranged to reflect the original text order:

LitMs/E/42/1: fragments forming part of volume 1 (ff. 1-30) with later medieval additions (ff. 69-72)
LitMs/E/42/2: fragments forming part of volume 2 (ff. 31-34, 36r-v, 35r-v, 37-42)
LitMs/E/42/3: fragments identified as late medieval supplement to volume 4 (ff. 73-74)
LitMs/E/42/4: fragments forming part of volume 5 (ff. 43-6, 49r-v, 47-48, 50-53, 75r-v, 62-63, 76-77, 54-57, 78-79)
LitMs/E/42/5: fragments forming part of volume 6 (ff. 80-81, 58-61, 66-68, 64-65)

Passional fragments in other collections:

Maidstone, S/RM. Fae. 2 forms the beginning of volume 2
British Library, Cotton MS Nero C VII, ff. 29-78; Harley MS 315, ff. 1-39; and Harley MS 624, ff. 84-143 form portions of volume 3


Large historiated, anthropomorphic, or decorated initials at the beginning of each life or passion, mostly in red, orange, green, blue, purple, and sometimes yellow, usually with geometric or foliate decoration, and some also with men, hybrid creatures, animals, and/or animal head terminations; a few simpler in only one or two colours and in simpler patterns. Rubrics in red or green inks.

Physical Description:

The fragment leaves were previously bound in 1952, with the leaves formerly known as Lit/Ms/E/42/A stored separately. The passional fragments were reunited and arranged in present format during conservation work completed 2019.

Materials: Parchment

Dimensions: The leaves vary considerably in size, the largest folio (f. 75) measures c. 388 x 275mm. The written area varies by volume: 277 x 190 mm (volumes 1 and 2); 305 x 190mm (volumes 5 and 6)

Foliation: ff. 81

Collation: The quires may have been formed of 8 leaves (Ker, pp289-94)

Script: Protogothic in Canterbury Christ Church style. Later medieval supplement (ff. 69r-74v) has been identified as the work of Theodoric Werken, an itinerant Dutch scribe, in the 1470s (Gameson, no. 22).
CustodialHistory61 leaves were recovered in 1888 by Dr. J. B. Sheppard from the bindings of registers and books of the Archdeacon's, Consistory and diocean probate courts. Further leaves were recovered in the 1930s and 1940s. Folios 9, 42 and 48 were transferred from the Kent Archives Office (now the Centre for Kentish Studies) in 1951. Ff 76-79 were recovered from visitation records held at Lambeth Palace Library, and were returned to Canterbury in 1955. Ff 80-81 were deposited by the Church Commissioners in 1966 having been retried from rentals for Eastry for 1513 and 1596; these were included in the folder previously identified as DCc/LitMs/E/42A and are now reunited with LitMS/E/42.
Extent35 folders; ff. 81
CopiesMicrofilmed and Digitised. Re-digitised after conservation work in 2019 in 50MP resolution, using new labelling system: LitMs-E-42-[volume section signifier]-[surviving part]_f. 1r. 1v. 2r. 2v, etc.for each bifolium or gathering
Related MaterialSee KHLC-S/Rm/FAe2 (further leaves that formed the beginning of volume 2); BL Cotton MS Nero C vii, ff. 29-78; Harley MS 315, ff. 1-39; Harley MS 624, ff. 84-143 (British Library leaves formed portions of text in volume 3); Cotton MS Otho D viii, ff. 8-173 (a second copy of volume 2); Arundel MS 91 (contains same collection as volume 6) see also CCA-DCc-ARC/K/1; U91/285 (for background to retrieval of leaves in the 1940s)
Publication NoteSee Richard Gameson, the Earliest Books of Canterbury Cathedral (2008), no 22; N Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries vol ii (1977), pp289-296; C R Dodwell, The Canterbury School of Illumination (1954); M R James, The Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover (1903), p52

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