Physical Description

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The Taymouth Hours are approximately 6.5″ by 4.5″ inches and trimmed.  This small size is similar to other Gothic manuscripts (Wood, 2013).


The Taymouth Hours is currently in a post-1600 binding of read leather with gold tooling.  It has marbled endpapers and gilt edges (British Library).  The original bindings were likely leather with boards, given the undisputed royal status of the recipient, but clasps didn’t come about until the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Marks, 1998).


The Taymouth Hours are written on parchment bound into a codex.


The extant hours consists of 195 folios with five paper flyleaves at the beginning and end (10 total).

Smith (2012) outlines the collation as follows:

I6 (fols 1r-6v); II8 (fols 7r-14v); III8? wants 2 and 3 (?), 8 cancelled (fols 15r-19v); IV-XV8 (fols 20r-115v); XVI4 (fols 116r-119v); XVII8 wants 1, a second leaf cancelled (?) (fols 120r-125v); XVII-XIX8 (fols 126r-141v); XX8+2, a quire of eight + a bifolium, wants 2 (fols 142r-149v, fols 150r-150v); XXI-XXV8 (fols 151r-190v); XXVI? (five left, collation uncertain) (fols 191r-195v).

This describes 26 quires, each with eight leaves, though some with fewer or more than eight.

There are rulings visible on most every page, providing a guideline for the borders and the text.  The manuscript follows a strict 14-line per page layout for the devotional texts.

An example of the rulings and 14-line layout with a bas-de-page; f. 8v


While I could not find any specifics related to the Taymouth Hours and the ink used to create it, the red used for the incipts/explicits and rubrications could have been thinned red paint.  Richard of Oxford was known for his black outlines, and black ink was produced by either burning oils, pitch, candles, or resin and mixing it with gum, or else a charcoal made from grapevine twigs (Baker, 2004).


Rubrication – f. 8v: French Prayers

Red rubrication is used in this manuscript both to identify prayers, offices, and other texts, as well as to identify the characters in the bas-de-page illustrations, such as those for the two English heroes that accompany the French prayers following the calendar.

Rubrication – f. 15v: Guy of Warwick

Rubrication – f. 10r: Bevis of Hampton

 Historiated Initials

There is one historiated initial in the Taymouth Hours – on f. 89r.  This same page (as seen in the image below) also bears notes from a 16th century Scottish owner.  It  is part of the Hours of the Virgin and depicts the Nativity.

The initial features gold leaf, diapering, and architectural in addition to the bordering scroll and ivy elements common in Gothic manuscripts (Wood, 2013).  The ends of the initial ‘D’ flow into the ivy border, as was common (Delorez, 2003).   The fact that the nearly 200 folios of the Taymouth Hours only contain one historiated initial is another element of the Gothic period, when use of historiated initials was lessening (Delorez, 2003).


f. 2r

The Taymouth Hours features decorations on nearly every page, including 24 calendar medallions, 24 miniatures of various sizes, numerous decorated initials, and foliate borders.  The decorated initials follow the Gothic tradition of being hierarchical (Delorez, 2003), as can be seen on f. 12v below.  Gothic manuscripts are also marked by the preference for enclosed space (Delorez, 2003, p. 43), and the Taymouth Hours are an excellent example of this.  From the calendar pages  onward, nearly every page is bordered with the red and blue, leafy vines.  What few pages are not bordered this way consist of one main, bordered illustration and an un-bordered bas-de-page, which is arguably marginalia as it is not contained within the border.

f. 12v









Bas-de-page of wildman and woman, f. 62r

The main illustrative aspect of the Taymouth Hours are the bas-de-page illustrations.  While in some sections these illustrations mirror the text, in others they depart from the sacred.  The opening Anglo-Norman prayers are paired with illustrations related to the stories of Guy of Warwick and Bevis of Hampton.  These narratives conducted through sequential images include a story of a woman abducted by a wildman, hunting and hawking, and an English poem.

The Three Living and the Three Dead, poem, f. 179v-180.