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Getting Started with the Library

Everything you need to know about using the Library this year

Special Collections & Archives logo : Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

SC&A includes manuscripts and archives, medieval to modern; early and finely printed books, and science fiction collections.

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

The University Library owns more than 50 medieval and renaissance manuscripts. It also holds the Mayer MSS deposited by National Museums Liverpool.

Image of the birth of Christ from MS.F.2.14, a medieval book of hoursThese collections are a witness to the cultural and educational life of Liverpool from the late nineteenth century onwards. The University's collection in particular reflects the taste and aspirations of the City's wealthy benefactors, and the generosity of the families wishing to commemorate their lives.

The medieval manuscripts in these collections are fully described in N.R. Ker's catalogue of Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries and in the exhibition catalogues detailed below. Many have survived in their medieval bindings. There are also collections of early deeds described separately.


The donors of the University's collection are:

  • Thomas Glazebrook Rylands (1900 bequest)
  • John W. Hughes (1903 gift)
  • Sir Charles Sydney Jones (presented in 1913, 1922 and 1946; gift from his library 1945)
  • May Rathbone (gift 1917)
  • J.P. Postgate (bequest 1926)
  • Gregson Institute (transfer 1938)
  • Clara Hornby (gift 1944)
  • Miss C.G. Coltart (gift 1945)
  • Stella Permewan (gift 1948)
  • Mrs Harold Cohen (gift 1949)
  • Sir Adrian Boult (gift 1950)
  • Robert G. Morton (gift 1969)


Medieval Manuscript Highlights

Feast of the Crown of Thorns

LUL MS.F.4.13: Feast of the Crown of Thorns (PDF)

This Antiphonal may have been produced for the church of Santa Maria della Spina in Pisa, which was given that name in 1333 after receiving a relic of the Crown of Thorns. 


Image from MS.F.2.14, a medieval book of hours

LUL MS.F.2.14: Nativity scene (PDF)

Illuminated miniature from a late fifteenth-century French Book of Hours, with richly decorated borders including animals and grotesques. 


 Adoration of the Magi

LUL MS.F.2.19: Adoration of the Magi (PDF)

The background pattern of gold filigree in this Book of Hours is associated with the "Gold Scrolls" group working in western Flanders in the early 15th century. 

Finding and using

See items in the Highlights gallery