As we celebrate Reading Abbey's 900th anniversary in 2021, join us in this free online exhibition to discover the astonishing contents of the royal abbey's most famous manuscript!
Did you know that one of the oldest English songs, ‘Sumer is icumen in’, was first transcribed at Reading Abbey in the mid 13th century? Translating as 'Summer has arrived', this is one of the oldest songs in the English language. The composition is just one of extraordinary range of different texts contained within this manuscript: from poetry to politics, medicine to magic. It survived the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539 and today is kept at the British Library.
The manuscript is what's known as a miscellany; a collection of widely varying texts, which in this case will have been very useful for monks dealing with wealthy and royal visitors to Reading Abbey. The exhibition explores its story and the magic, music and fables it contains.
With huge thanks to Professor Anne Lawrence-Mathers (Professor of Medieval History, University of Reading), Dr Cynthia Johnston (Lecturer in History of the Book, School of Advanced Studies, University of London), Dr Laura Cleaver (Senior Lecturer in Manuscript Studies, Institute of English Studies, University of London), and Dr Helen Deeming (Lecturer in Music, Royal Holloway, University of London) for their enormous contributions in making this online exhibition possible.