A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MS. Don. b. 6

Summary Catalogue no.: Not in SC (late accession)


Missal, Use of Sarum ('The Closworth Missal')
Language(s): Latin
(fols. ii recto - ix verso)

20th-century materials stuck to modern flyleaves, including:

Photograph of Closworth Church, c. 1911.

Typescript brief description of the manuscript, probably by J. & J. Leighton (see under Provenance).

Notes on the manuscript, some of them by Meade Falkner (see under Provenance).

(fols. 1r-6v)

Calendar; ordinary feasts in black, major ones in red, with gradings of iii or ix lessons; each month heded by the usual verses ('Prima dies mensis & vij truncat ut ensis' etc.).

(fols. 7r-8r)

Blessing for Holy Water

(fols. 8r-151r)


(fol. 151r-v)

Intonations for the Gloria and Credo.

(fols. 151v-160v)

Order of the Mass; in the Canon, the word 'papa' has been erased and 'Regina Maria' written in its place, and the phrase 'et rege nostro' has been effaced (fol. 157r).

(fols. 161r-214v)


(fols. 214v-233r)

Common of Saints.

(fols. 233r-245v)

Votive Masses.

(fols. 245v-247v)

Marriage service and Mass.

(fols. 247v-248r)
Rubric: Pro iter agentibus
(fols. 248r-251v)

Ritual of Last Sacraments.

(fols. 251v-252v)

Masses of the Dead; ending imperfect in the Postcommunion for dead brothers and sisters

Explicit: maiestati per huius uirtutem sacamenti ||||

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: KL Primus mandentem (Calendar)
Secundo Folio: infra aduentum (text, fol. 8)
Form: codex
Support: Parchment.
Extent: i (parchment) + viii (modern paper, and a photograph, stuck in) + i (parchment) + 252 + ii (parchment) leaves.
Dimensions (leaf): 445 × 310 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 325 × 215–20 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in modern pencil: i-x, 1–254; the paper sheets and photograph between fols. i and ix were previously excluded from the foliation, which was thus i-iii, 1–254.


Mostly in quires of eight leaves: I6(fols. 1–6) | II-VI8(fols. 7–46), VII8–1(8th leaf missing) (fols. 47–53), VIII-XXII8(fols. 54–173), XXIII8–1(7th leaf cancelled, leaving a wide stub) (fols. 174–180), XXIV-XXVIII8(fols. 181–220), XXIX6(fols. 221–226), XXX-XXXI8(fols. 227–242), the remainder (2 quires?) of uncertain structure (fols. 243–252); catchwords survive at the ends of most quires (except the first), in the script of the main text, enclosed in decorative frames, except that on fol. 220v, which is a guide to the rubricator, written in tiny cursive script; catchwords also occur mid-quire on fols. 11v and 28v.


Ruled in 2 columns of 36 lines; but 25 lines on the first page of the Canon of the Mass (fol. 157r), 26 lines on the rest of the Canon (fols. 157v-160v); in a rust-coloured ink, sometimes appearing reddish, sometimes brownish; each column c. 100 mm. wide.


Written in a good gothic liturgical bookhand

Musical Notation:

12 staves of 4 red lines with square notation.


Fine miniatures, border, initials. Good penwork borders, initials (perhaps foreign (?)). (Pächt and Alexander iii. 1095, pl. CII)

Headings in red; capitals in the main text touched in yellow.

One half-page miniature:(fol. 156v) The Crucifixion; the upper part of the background is tooled gold, the lower part part is a landscape of hills under a graded blue sky (ill in Pächt and Alexander, pl. CII, 1095b).

One five-line foliate initial in blue, rose and green on a gold ground, with a leafy border in two margins:(fol. 157r) Te igitiur.

Four- to eight-line initials in red and blue, with red and blue penwork, usually of 'puzzle' type, at major feasts and textual divisions:

  • (fol. 8r) Temporale; first Sunday in Advent.
  • (fol. 19r) Christmas.
  • (fol. 24v) Epiphany.
  • (fol. 96v) Easter.
  • (fol. 110r) Ascension.
  • (fol. 113v) Pentecost.
  • (fol. 121r) Trinity Sunday.
  • (fol. 122r) Corpus Christi.
  • (fol. 123r) Sunday after Trinity Sunday.
  • (fol. 161r) Sanctorale; St. Andrew (30 Nov.).
  • (fol. 120r) Purification of the Virgin (2 Feb.).
  • (fol. 176v) Sts. Philip & James (1 May).
  • (fol. 183r) St. John the Baptist (24 June).
  • (fol. 185r) Sts. Peter & Paul (29 June).
  • (fol. 189v) Mary Magdalen (22 July; four-line, not 'puzzle').
  • (fol. 195v) Assumption of the Virgin (15 Aug.).
  • (fol. 205r) St. Michael (29 Sept.).
  • (fol. 210v) All Saints (1 Nov.; five-line, not 'puzzle').
  • (fol. 214v) Common of Saints (five-line, not 'puzzle')
  • (fol. 235v) Mass of the Virgin.
  • (fol. 245v) Marriage service.

Two-line initials in blue with very distinctive red penwork, frequently including human faces (e.g. fols. 7v, 14v, 15r, 33v, etc.), usually caricatured, usually laymen, but sometimes tonsured (e.g. fol. 43r); sometime with inscribed scrolls: 'DICE . PATI . PATIT . QVI . VINCIT' (fol. 31r), 'DEUM . TIME . ET MANDATA EIUS . SERVA' (fol. 34v), 'TIMENTIBVS DEVM. NICHIL . DEEST' (fol. 47r), 'VINCIT . QVI . PATITVR' (fol. 48v) (ill. in Pächt and Alexander, pl. CII, 1095a), and 'Fuge. cetum. Feminarum. Nam omnis status harum. Prava dat stipendia' (fol. 52v); stylised or semi-naturalistic flowers or fruit, and other motifs e.g. a fleur de lis (fols. 15v, 26v, etc.), a crown (fols. 25v, 47r, etc.), etc.; one-line initials alternately plain red or blue.


Bound c. 1912 in black morocco by Messrs. J. & J. Leighton; the spine tooled in gilt 'MISSALE | ECCLESIAE | DE | CLOSWORTH || SAEC. XIV'; gilt edges; formerly bound in 'half russia', according to the cutting from a Sotheby's(?) catalogue glued to fol. ix verso.


Origin: 15th century, third quarter ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

Written in England in the third quarter of the 15th century, for secular use.

The original penwork decoration includes the motto 'Disce pati. Patitur qui vivit' and others

Closworth, Somerset, parish church of All Saints (?): the dedication of the parish church of Closworth was added to the calendar in the 15th century: 'Dedicacio ecclesie parochialis de clowsworth maius duplex' (19 June; fol. 3v).

References to Thomas Becket and popes altered or effaced at the Reformation.

? Stephen Hales, who owned Closworth in 1554 (see John Collinson, The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset ..., II (Bath, 1791), pp. 346–7), the year in which alterations were made to the Canon of the Mass.

'The Property of a Military Officer': sold as such by Sotheby's, 13 July 1909 and following day, lot 325; bought by Leighton for £86.

J. & J. Leighton, Catalogue of Manuscripts (1912), item 217, with pl.

John Meade Falkner (1858–1932) (on whom see DNB and MS. Don. b. 5, under Provenance), for whom Leighton rebound the volume (as recorded in London, BL, Add. MS. 45168, fol. 100v); sold at Sotheby's 13 Dec. 1932, lot 295; bought by Quaritch for £230.

Sir John Noble, bart.; Quaritch were presumably acting on his behalf at the Meade Falkner sale (hence the absence of any of Quaritch's characteristic markings); presented to the Bodleian by Noble in memory of Meade Falkner, in 1933.

Record Sources

Draft description by Peter Kidd, late 1990s; some details from S. J. P. Van Dijk, Handlist of the Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Oxford Vol. 1: Mass Books

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (3 images from 35mm slides)

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.