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Psalter and Office of the Dead: MS McClean 42

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Psalter and Office of the Dead




PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, iii modern paper flyleaves + 236 fols. (foliated i – vi, 2 – 231) + iii modern paper flyleaves, 105 x 70 (67 x 48) mm, 16 long lines, ruled in faint black ink, leaves lost before fols. 2 and 200

BINDING: 1994, dark brown goat skin over acid-free mill-boards, by Annie Winther; previous fifteenth-century binding with pastedowns, flyleaves, and tag with Crucifixion woodcut, preserved with manuscript, blind-stamped brown leather over wooden boards, sewn on 4 supports, fleurs-de-lys stamps within lozenges, leather strap and metal clasp on upper cover, catchplate on lower cover.

CONTENTS: fols. i recto – vi verso Calendar; fols. 2r – 199v Psalter, Gallican (begins imperfectly) ; fols. 200r – 219r Canticles (begin imperfectly), Te deum, Quicumque vult; fols. 219r – 223r Litany with collects; fols. 223v – 229v Office of the Dead; fol. 229v Confession prayer and alphabet.

DECORATION: Twelve medallions with Labours of the Month in Calendar:
fol. i recto Jan., Warming by fire; fol. i verso, Feb., Woman with two tapers; fol. ii recto March, Pruning trees; fol. ii verso April, Maying; fol. iii recto May, Man with falcon; fol. iii verso June Man carrying bundle; fol. iv recto July Mowing; fol. iv verso Aug., Reaping; fol. v recto Sept., Picking fruit; fol. v verso Oct., Sowing; fol. vi recto Nov., Threshing acorns for pigs; fol. vi verso Dec., Killing pig.

Nine historiated initials in white-patterned blue or pink on gold grounds, with branches and foliate extensions supporting or terminating into human figures and hybrids, and forming full borders: fol. 31v Psalm 26, [D, 10 ll.] Apostle with blank scroll; fol. 51v Psalm 38, [D, 10 ll.] St Andrew holding saltire cross; fol. 69r Psalm 51, [Q, 9 ll.] St Paul holding cross; fol. 70v Psalm 52, [D, 9 ll.] St Peter holding key; fol. 88v Psalm 68, [S, 10 ll.] Apostle with blank scroll; fol. 111r Psalm 80, [E, 9 ll.] Apostle asleep; fol. 132r Psalm 97, [C, 9 ll.] Martyr holding palm branch; fol. 135r Psalm 101, [D, 9 ll.] Apostle pointing at upwards and downwards; fol. 154r Psalm 109, [D, 10 ll.] St Bartholomew holding knife.
Woodcut hand-coloured initial with Crucifixion and beginning of the Canon of the Mass excised from an early printed Missal and used as a tag pasted on former flyleaf (preserved within manuscript box).

ORNAMENTATION: Gold initials [3 ll.] on blue and pink white-patterned grounds, with bar extensions, for ordinary Psalms, Canticles, Litany and Office of the Dead; alternate gold and blue one-line initials with blue or red pen-flourished infill and extensions; blue and red pen-work line-fillers with gold balls.


History note: Given by Mrs Elizabeth Heathcote to Samuel Pegge in 1779 (ownership inscription, fol. i recto); not identified in the sales of Samuel Pegge’s library, 12 Nov. 1792, 29 March 1798, 12 Nov. 1800; lot 258 in an unidentified Sotheby’s sale, as reported by James 1912, 82 (no extant inscription or cutting from sale catalogue); Frank McClean (1837 – 1904); his bequest, 1904.

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1904) by McClean, Frank


Thirteenth century, third quarter
1250 CE - 1275 CE

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Cambridge Illuminated

Materials used in production


Components of the work

Support composed of parchment

Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: Qui non abiit
  • Type: Secundo folio

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: MS McClean 42
Primary reference Number: 170707
Project ID: 21
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 24 August 2020 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Manuscripts and Printed Books

Citation for print

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