Contact Us

Parker Library On the Web Manuscripts in the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 542: Prayer Book of Frances Parker.

IIIF Drag-n-drop
Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 542: Prayer Book of Frances Parker.
ff. 82
Approximate Date:
[ca. 1570 - 1574]
Parker Manuscripts
CCCC MS 542 is a tiny prayerbook which Archbishop Parker’s second son, Matthew, gave to his wife Frances as a New Year’s gift at some point between their marriage in 1569 and his early death in 1574. It contains an acrostic on her name, as well as a number of “most necessary prayers and comfortable meditations”, and the opening page has an illuminated border containing flowers like those found in earlier sixteenth-century Books of Hours. Simpler gold borders are on several other pages. Only the first few pages have been imaged because of the great fragility of the contemporary binding, which is embroidered with pansies and chrysanthemums, in a similar style to the decoration within. Frances was a renowned embroiderer, so may have made the binding herself. As a result of the fragility of this binding it has only been possible to image the exterior and interior of the front cover, the exterior of the back cover, and part of the text pages, ff. 1r-7v. The manuscript later belonged to the Huth library, founded by Henry Huth (d. 1878) and continued by his son Alfred. It was sold at auction in 1917, and was bought by Lord Queenborough (1861-1949) to give to Corpus Christi College, perhaps at the instigation of the then librarian, Sir Geoffrey Butler. Frances was the daughter of William Barlow, bishop of Chichester, who had assisted in Archbishop Parker’s enthronement. At the time of her husband’s death Frances was pregnant with a child who did not survive infancy. In 1578 she married Tobie Matthew, later Archbishop of York. She later founded York Minster library with the books of her second husband, and was renowned for her views on girls’ education.