Commemorations and Prayers, In 'The De Brailes Hours'
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
William de Brailes is the only 13th-century English non-monastic illuminator known to have signed his work. His surname means 'from Brailes', a town in Warwickshire, about 30 miles north of Oxford. Documentary sources reveal that he lived and worked in Oxford, with his wife Celena, in a bookmaking community based around the present site of the chapel of All Souls College. His distinctive painting style has been recognised in several manuscripts, of which this is perhaps the most important. It is the earliest extant English Book of Hours (a book containing prayers to be said at certain hours of the day), and includes two self-portraits.
This page has, at the top, later 13th-century notes in French commemorating persons to be prayed for: Richard de Neuere, Richard de Westey and Bartholomew de Grimiston, adding "all friars, preachers and minors and you my confessors." Bartholomew of Grimstone has been identified as a Dominican friar who joined the order at Cambridge about 1240 and died about 1265. Below are prayers to the Virgin Mary, followed by salutations to the Virgin in rhyming quatrains consisting of twenty-six stanzas beginning "Ave seinte marie" ("Hail holy Mary"). While it has been suggested that the manuscript was made for a woman living in the parish of St Laurence, North Hinksey, Oxfordshire, the inscription at the top of this page suggests connections with a Dominican house.