The Golf Book
The manuscript known as the Golf Book is famous for its lively depictions of sports and pastimes. It takes its name from one of its illustrations which shows an early game of golf. Only parts of the original manuscript survive, including the calendar which is exhibited here.
The Golf Book is a book of hours, a collection of devotional texts for private prayer. Books of hours were very popular between the 13th and 16th centuries. Each one was unique because it was written and illustrated according to the needs and desires of the person who commissioned it.
The original owner of the Golf Book is unknown, but it was produced by Flemish artist Simon Bening, the leading master of illumination in the 16th century. Bening had a workshop in Bruges, and it is likely that the Golf Book was produced there in the early 1540s. His daughter Levina was also a miniature painter who went on to work as an artist in England.
The British Library purchased the manuscript in 1861. The binding is of purple velvet with silver metalwork and crystal.
British Library Add MS 24098