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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

We’ve had an extraordinarily busy February at the Renaissance Center, and I’ve been pressed for time to compose new posts. But things have finally slowed down here, and I am going to use this space to tell you about one of my favorite items in the Center’s collection, our 1609 edition of the works of John Jewel.  This is relatively common book, but its interesting marginalia has allowed me to trace some of its provenience back to the early seventeenth century.   

 John Jewel (1522-1571), the Bishop of Salisbury, was an influential theologian, famous for codifying and defending the doctrines of the Anglican Church. His most significant work, the 1562 Apology for the Church of England is both a statement of faith and a strong rebuttal to those who challenged the legitimacy of the Anglican Church. Jewel’s writings were first collected and published in a folio edition in 1609 when Richard Bancroft ordered his Apology to be placed in all Anglican churches. The Center’s copy of this edition (our collection actually holds multiple copies of this work in addition to the volume you see on this blog) is in contemporary calf with elaborate blind tooling on its cover. The volume’s title page is inscribed with, "This book belongs to ye parish of Reepham, Ita testor Sam. Gardiner rectr,” letting readers know that this copy was indeed at one time chained to a lectern.

Using this marginalia as a starting point, I looked through some of records available at the Center and discovered that the fifth volume of Edmund Farrer’s The Church Heraldry of Norfolk records a tombstone that reads, “Here lyth ye Body of Samuel Gardiner, Gent., late Rector of Reepham who departed this life the 16th day of May, aged 65.” This book clearly once belonged to one of the three historic churches of Reepham, Norfolk, institutions of worship that are still in use today.  This book’s marginalia, then, provides a glimpse at how it was used and read close to the date of its publication.

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