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MA trip to Lambeth Palace

On Wednesday 20th October, MA students taking the ‘Medieval Book’ module visited Lambeth Palace’s  new, and not yet officially opened, library and research centre. Our session took place in the new teaching area at the very top of the building. The view from this gallery is one of the most spectacular London panoramas possible to imagine. Quasi-medieval London was on full throttle, with the flags and banners of the Palace of Westminster fluttering in the breeze just beyond the banks of the Thames. 

To engage with ‘real’ medieval codices after our exile of nearly two years was thrilling, and Lambeth’s extraordinary collections, really only rivalled by the Vatican with regard to medieval religious material in Europe, provided an exhilarating return to work on manuscripts. We viewed a wide range of thirteenth-century codices including an illuminated psalter, an apocalypse replete with medieval silk ‘curtains’ to protect the illuminations, a bible, as well as a range of texts for study including  two works by Peter Lombard and an  Aristotle. The Lambeth conservation team also provided us with a presentation on medieval manuscript production. This was enhanced by examination of various mineral pigments including lapis lazuli and malachite, ingredients for the making of ink, including oak galls, as well as various grades and types of parchment. We were all particularly pleased by the extremely cooperative attitude of the parchment itself, which had curled itself up into its original, animal-shaped form by the end of our session, demonstrating the still reactive nature of this natural product!