St. Aldhelm (c.639-709), abbot of Malmesbury and bishop of Sherborne, has been described as 'the first Englishman who cultivated classical learning with any success'. He led a particularly austere life: it is recorded that when he was abbot he used to recite the entire Psalter standing up to his neck in ice-cold water. His main surviving work is 'In Praise Of Virginity', which he dedicated to the abbess and nuns of Barking. This manuscript of the text was in the library at Worcester Cathedral by the 17th century, and had probably been there since the early Middle Ages. Some of the earliest forms of embellishment of books include the use of enlarged initials, initials ornamented with foliage or animals, and unusual letter-forms written in enlarged script, all of which are visible here: near the top of the page a passage begins REVERENTISSIMIS, and lower down IAM DUDUM.