Store of heavenly learning
Cambridgeshire, the home of Sir William and Lady Proby, will open its doors for an exhibition of early English Bibles and prayer books this summer curated by Mr. Liam Sims of Cambridge University Library. It Celebrates the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible in 1611 and charts the genesis of the English Bible, from the illicit Wycliffite translation of the 1380s through the turbulence of Henry VIII’s Reformation to the King James Bible itself.
The home of the Proby family since the 1660s, Elton Hall houses a magnificent library especially rich in early English Bibles and associated works. The majority of the books that are displayed were acquired by William Proby, 5th Earl of Carysfort. At the beginning of the 20th century the library contained a dazzling array of bibliographical treasures acquired by the 5th Earl, some of which were auctioned at Sotheby’s in 1923. These included a perfect copy of the Gutenberg Bible on paper and in a contemporary wooden binding (now at the University of Texas).
The exhibition opens with two medieval manuscripts, 15th century Books of Hours of Dutch and French origin. Several incunabula will also be on display, including Caxton’s Polychronicon of 1482 and a German Bible from the press of Anton Koberger. Tyndale’s New Testament and Pentateuch, both of 1534, represent the first printed English scriptures and first editions of all of the major English translations of the Bible throughout the 16th century will be on display, including Coverdale’s Bible of 1535 and a copy of the Great Bible of 1539 in a contemporary binding. Particular highlights include a manuscript of the Wycliffite New Testament, written and illuminated in London in the 1420s and a prayer book printed on vellum which was once owned by Katherine Parr, containing several notes in the hand of Henry VIII. Books with links to Katherine Parr are especially important at Elton, since Henry presented the manor of Elton to her after their marriage. The signature of Katherine herself can be found inside a Latin Book of Hours printed on vellum and owned by one of her cousins.
Parties by appointment, contact below.
Between 2.00pm – 5.00pm on the following days:
June & July - Wednesdays & Thursdays
August - Wednesday, Thursday & Sundays and Bank Holiday Monday – 29th August