Campsea Ashe Manuscripts

 

The Abbey at Campsea Ashe was once a very important Augustinian Convent, the remains of which can still be seen at Loudham. It was built in 1204 and was eventually dissolved in 1536. There are a number of medieval manuscripts that survive from the Abbey, some in the British Library, and at least one at Cambridge University Library.

The Campsey collection of saints' lives is the only known medieval collection of rhymed saints' lives in French and is held at the British Library. It was written in England and the major part of the manuscript dates to the last quarter of the 13 century although some was added later in the early part of the 14th century. The manuscript was used for meal-time reading.

A Canadian University has made a study of the manuscript and details of it, including pictures of various pages, can be found here.

The Shipdam Manuscript.

A second medieval manuscript belonging to the Abbey was sold to Cambridge University Library in 1949. Prior to the sale it was in the Shipdam Rectorial Library and it was sold along with many other documents held at Shipdam. In 1928 it was described in The Times as follows:

One of the gems of the library is a 13th century English Psalter, with a miniature of the Crucifiction and many fine illuminated initial letters, written for the monastery of Campsea Ash, Suffolk.

(Full article available here)

Originally it was intended to auction the manuscript in 1928, but this was delayed and was eventually sold privately in 1949 before other books in the library were auctioned in 1951.