The Beaufort/Beauchamp Hours is a composite volume of parts made at different times. It evolved into its present form during the 15th century.
The earliest portion of the manuscript is a series of 24 leaves containing suffrages and miniatures of saints set in elaborate architectural frames (ff. 3–24). These leaves were originally part of a Psalter made in England and apparently illustrated by Flemish artists around 1410–1415 (now Rennes, Bibliothèque Municipale MS 22). The Annunciation scene in this portion of the manuscript (f. 23v, digitised image 4) has sometimes been attributed to Herman Scheerre, an artist of German or Dutch origin who was active in London around 1405–1425.
The main part of the manuscript is a Book of Hours that was most likely made for Margaret Beauchamp (b. c. 1410, d. 1482), duchess of Somerset, in the second quarter of the 15th century. The calendar records the birth of her daughter Margaret Beaufort (1443) and the death of her husband John Beaufort (1444), and the leaves at the beginning of the manuscript contain a list of her Grandison ancestors (f. 1v, digitised image 2). She is probably the woman portrayed in prayer before her Guardian Angel (f. 26r, digitised image 5) and below the Annunciation (f. 34r, digitised image 7).
Further notes in the manuscript suggest that Margaret Beauchamp passed the book on to her daughter, Margaret Beaufort (b. 1443, d. 1509), countess of Richmond and Derby. It records numerous events in the life of her son, Henry Tudor (b. 1457, d. 1509), as well as the death of her husband Thomas Stanley (1505).
View images of the entire manuscripts via our Digitised Manuscripts website.
- Article by:
- Eleanor Jackson
- Christianity, Devotional texts
Books of Hours were a popular feature of medieval Christianity in Europe. Dr Eleanor Jackson introduces their common features, uses and purposes, explaining features such as the Instruments of Christ’s Passion and the medieval veneration of saints.
- Article by:
- Sacred texts, Christianity
Dr Scot McKendrick looks at manuscripts of the Bible prior to the invention of printing, exploring their contents and uses and answering the question of why there are so few manuscripts of the whole Bible.