The Art Fund helps save magnificent religious text

  • 7 April 2008

The Art Fund has helped the National Trust to acquire the sole surviving copy of a book - the Sarum Missal - published by William Caxton in 1487. The Missal has been acquired thanks to a £100,000 grant from The Art Fund, and from other organisations and individuals.

The Missal – a liturgical book for the performance of the Mass – was printed in Paris for Caxton in 1487. It is the only copy of the earliest known edition of the Missal according to the Use of Sarum – the most popular version of the Mass in use in pre-Reformation England. The Missal has been in the north-west of England since at least 1508 – and was at Lyme Park, in Cheshire, until 1946 in the ownership of the Legh family.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: "As the only surviving example of the most popular version of the Mass in pre-Reformation England, the Caxton Missal is an extraordinarily important historical document. Printed in Paris in the late 15th century, it is also an early example of a method of two-colour printing that had only recently been developed. The Art Fund is delighted to have helped return this remarkable book to its original home in Lyme Park."

The other funders who helped towards the net £465,000 acquisition of the Missal are: The Heritage Lottery Fund with a grant of £316,000, Royal Oak Foundation, The Friends of the National Libraries, The Foyle Foundation, The Pilgrim Trust, The Robert Gavron Charitable Trust, Eric Nilson and S. Jeffrey Mostade, in memory of Donald and Carol Campbell, and The Peak District Centre.

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