William Dalton and John Stell, in the Cartulary of Furness Abbey, Pt. II
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Made for Abbot William Dalton of Furness Abbey, Lancashire, the cartulary collects all the documents, such as deeds, papal bulls, charters, and grants, pertaining to the monastery. The result is called the 'Coucher' or 'Cowcher'. It probably was made at Furness Abbey itself, in a period when large manuscripts were often produced in urban workshops. Furness was a Cistercian monastery and was remote because of the order's ideal of isolation. The provincial surroundings, however, did not deter the ambitious project.
The Coucher is introduced by a page of verse which records that the book was made for William Dalton in 1412 and that the monk John Stell was the scribe in charge of making it. Stell would have organised a team of scribes and artists, who may have been monks or laymen, to integrate the painting of nearly 150 ornamented letters into the writing of the texts, which were of different types and lengths. The faint design at the top of the page is an offset or impression from the facing page.