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THE history of the ancient Benedictine Abbey of New
:: Minster, afterwards Hyde, within the City of Winchester, notwithstanding the light that has been shed upon its earlier age by the Rolls Edition of the Liber de Hyda, still remains to be written. The Editors of the Novum Monasticon Anglicanum were, indeed, cognizant of all the manuscript materials which are extant to-day, and they had access to them ; but, as in other places throughout that work, so, too, in the case of Hyde, they failed to devote the time required to unravel the record which demanded more patience than they had at command, The HYDE REGISTER—the Stowe Manuscript No. 960– now in the British Museum, which has never before been committed to the press, illustrates the history of this Abbey in a variety of ways, many of which, as will be seen as we progress in our investigations, are as novel as they are instructive and entertaining.
It will be, perhaps, the best plan to examine the list of contents of the book, with some remarks upon the several articles, and to pass rapidly in review over the salient points in the history of the Abbey and show how our knowledge of these points is advanced by the contents.
The Manuscript in its present condition is, unfortunately, very imperfect-probably a mere fragment of what it was when in its best condition—and its leaves, the order of which has been displaced in several instances, have been seriously reduced in size by the pernicious practice of the binder, who has cut away a margin which made the book in its original state somewhat larger than it now is. It now consists of fifty-six leaves of strong vellum, measuring 10 inches tall by 434 inches wide. It is bound in green morocco, and on the back and sides are stamped the armorial bearings of the family of Asteley or Astley (used by Thomas Astle, Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London, former owner), viz., a cinquefoil within a bordure engrailed ermine. The crest is, upon a chapeau, turned up ermine, a plume of feathers, banded, and environed with a ducal coronet. The original writing is very neatly done, and is adorned with rubrics and initial letters in red, blue, green, and other coloured inks.
On a paper fly-leaf at the end of the volume is the following note by Astle :-"In the year 1710. This M.S. was in the possession of Walter Clavel Esqr. It was afterwards the property of the Revd. Mr. North from whom it came to his Executor the Revd. Doctor Lort who presented it to me in the year 1770. T. A.”
Walter Clavel, or Clavell, the first owner of the Manuscript of whom we have any notice after the dissolution of Hyde Abbey, is described as of the Middle Temple, barrister-at-law, and afterwards of Addlestone, co. Surrey. He was born at Ballasore, in the East Indies, April, 1676 ; admitted at the Middle Temple, 1697 ; and died unmarried. His will is dated 19 March and proved 20 May, 1740. He was the second son of Walter Clavell of Bengal, a member of the family of Clavell of Smedmore, co. Dorset.
I Nichol's Literary Anecdotes ; Chalmers' Biogr. Dict., xxiii, 244 ; Allibone, Critical Dictionary, p. 1435; Hutchins' Dorset, 3rd edit., 1861, vol. I, p. 571.
George North, M.A. Oxon, an antiquary, Vicar of Codicote, in Hertfordshire, was the son of George North, citizen of London. He wrote among other works “An Answer to a Scandalous Libel entitled The Impertinence and Imposture of Modern Antiquaries Displayed, 1741. 4to. Anonymous.” This refers to Wise's Letters to Dr. Meade concerning the “ White Horse” and other antiquities of Berkshire. Chalmers has given a biographical notice of this owner, which shows, among other episodes in his life, his connection with the next name, that of Dr. Lort. He was born in 1710 and died 17 June, 1772.
The next owner was the Rev. Michael Lort, D.D., A.D. 1725-1790, who was admitted of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1745, and became Greek Professor at that University in 1759 ; rector of St. Matthew, Friday Street, London, in 1771 ; prebendary of St. Paul's in 1780. He published some sermons in 1760; papers in the Archæologia in 1777, 1779, 1787, and other works. Chalmers gives a biographical notice of this divine. He was a vice-president of the Society of Antiquaries, and, according to Manning, deposited this MS. in 1769 in the library of Astle.
The MS. passed, with many others, from Astle's possession into that of the Marquess of Buckingham, the Earl of Ashburnham, and finally into that of the Trustees of the British Museum, where, in its present mutilated and diminished state, it is to be hoped it has found a more lasting resting place.
The following is the description of the contents. The first five leaves, which have been added at the time of rebinding, contain a list, not very correctly drawn up,
i See Nichol's Literary Anecdotes, Gentleman's Magasine, 60, 61; Allibone, Critical Dictionary, p. 1132, etc. ; Chalmers' Biogr. Dict., XX, 417.
? Will of K. Alfred, 1788, pref., p. 2.
written in an elegant style of ornamental penmanship and signed (shortly after his acquisition of it) by Thomas Astle, the well known literary antiquary and collector, on 25 March, 1771. This list has been printed by the Editors of the New Monasticon in vol. ii, p. 432n., and it is placed in this volume in the Appendix A, pp. 195–200.
The first page of the original Manuscript is occupied with a drawing executed 1 in the finest style by an AngloSaxon artist, in outline, slightly tinted with colours. It represents the altar of the Monastic Church, draped with a large cloth. On the right of the spectator stands King Cnut or Canute, the great benefactor of the Abbey, grasping his sword in the left hand, and with the right placing on the altar a large golden cross embellished with jewels. In the field is written CNUT REX : the former in Roman, the second in Rustic capital letters. On the left hand side stands Ælfgyfu, his queen, lifting up the right hand in adoration, and holding the folds of her robe with the left. In the field is written ÆLFGYFV in Rustic capitals. Above these royal figures are two angels, each with nimbus and wings, issuing about half-length from clouds, pointing upwards with the index finger of the interior hand. The one supports the king's crown, the other the veil or headdress of the queen: a delicate way of indicating the divine call to the throne. The fingers of the angels point the attention of the pious benefactors to the upper part of the picture, where in a vesica sits our Lord in Judgment, upon a rainbow, his head girt with a cruciform nimbus ; the book of life open in the left hand, the right hand with the thumb and two fingers extended in the act of pronouncing a benediction on the king and queen below. On the right
See the plates.
hand of the Judge stands the Blessed Virgin Mary, with long dress, nimbus, and book. On the left hand St. Peter, with tonsured head, short dress, showing the lower part of the legs, and nimbus. The position of the nimbus has been altered by the draughtsmen, and the first circle, although erased, may still be seen quite plainly in the photograph. The Saint holds a pair of keys in the left hand. The dedication of the abbey is thus fully represented,' unless we ought to look for St. Michael the Archangel, in accordance with a passage at p. 10. At the bottom of the picture is an arch of semi-circular form, beneath which is an arcade of seven round headed arches, of heights ranging gradually higher towards the middle, so that the centre arch is the highest of the series. They rest upon six baluster shafts with cushion-shaped drums and abaci. The arcade reveals a multitude of persons, some tonsured, two among them women, and two children, apparently engaged in singing or chanting from a book held by the foremost figure, under the central arch.
Pages 2 and 3 open into one pictorial design 8 although upon two separate leaves. This, like that which precedes it, is divided into three divisions or stages. In the upper one, on the right, we see St. Peter, one of the patron saints, with jewelled nimbus, standing on the steps leading up to the New and Heavenly Jerusalem-or the Church set upon a rock—a walled city provided with courses of masonry, circular turrets, shingled roof, crested roof-line, and spires topped with a kind of fleur-de-lis at the summit. Within the enclosure sits Christ the King of Glory, wearing
1 See p. 3. % This pictorial view of certain architectural details has been compared with some of the work in Christ Church, Oxford, which may be referred to the early years of the eleventh century. See the plate in Mr. J. P. Harrison's paper "On a Pre-Norman clearstory window .... in Oxford Cathedral," Archæol. Journ., vol. xlix, No. 194, p. 158 (1892).
'8 See the plates.