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History of the New Minster, in The Liber Vitae of New Minster and Hyde Abbey

History of the New Minster, in The Liber Vitae of New Minster and Hyde Abbey

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1031

Shelfmark: Stowe MS 944

Item number: f. 8r

Length: 25.5

Width: 14.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

The Liber Vitae ('Book of Life') of New Minster and Hyde Abbey contains a list of names of the members of the community and its associates and benefactors, living and dead, along with two unusual pictures, grants, historical accounts, material for church services, prayers and other devotional material. It is thought that Aelfwine, abbot 1031-1057, had the book made at the beginning of his abbacy and to commemorate the New Minster's associations with royal patrons. The name of the scribe, Aelfsige, a monk and priest who also wrote Aelfwine's prayerbook (British Library), appears on one of its pages. This manuscript is called the Liber Vitae because it was meant as a contribution to the Eternal Book of Life in which the names of the saved were believed to have been written. Every day, at one of the major church services held at Hyde Abbey, names were read aloud from the list at the high altar. In 1110 the New Minster moved from Winchester to Hyde.

This page has an account of the building of the old abbey in Winchester from its intended establishment by Alfred the Great to its consecration by Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the month of July sometime between 980 and 987. It points out that it is proper to commemorate benefactors. This interesting history of the New Minster in the 10th century probably was written in the late 980s and was copied here as part of the historical documentation of the abbey as well as to emphasise its close connections to the kings since Alfred.

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