SMU Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology SMU, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology SMU Bridwell Library Perkins School of Theology

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BOOK OF HOURS. Use of Sarum. Illuminated manuscript on vellum.
[Saint-Omer, France, ca. 1330].

This small-format Book of Hours, produced in France for an English patron according to the liturgy of Salisbury, includes fifteen Gothic illuminations of outstanding interest and quality, lively marginal decoration, and an illustrated calendar featuring signs of the Zodiac and Labors of the Months. An unusual textual feature is the inclusion of prayers to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster (d. 1322), who was never canonized as a saint. The final leaf bears a mnemonic in English, beginning "xxx dayes hath novembre," for remembering the number of days of the months. Datable ca 1400, this is possibly the earliest record of the English rhyme "Thirty days hath September."

In 2004 the "Sellers Hours" manuscript was the subject of a Southern Methodist University M.A. Thesis in Medieval Studies by John T. McQuillen, now Assistant Curator at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York. See also John T. McQuillen, "Who Was St. Thomas of Lancaster? New Manuscript Evidence," in: Fourteenth-Century England, vol. 4. Edited by J. S. Hamilton (London: Boydell Press, 2006), pp. 1-25.