Enjoy a Medieval Summer at St Albans Cathedral and its new Lives and Legacies exhibition

St Albans Abbey Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral - Credit: Archant

A medieval manuscript has returned to St Albans Cathedral for the first time since 1539 as the centrepiece of a new exhibition.

The Book of Benefactors forms the central attraction of the Cathedral’s new Lives and Legacies exhibition.

The exhibition opened at the historic place of worship this week and runs until September 3 as part of the city’s Medieval Summer programme of events.

The ‘Book of Benefactors' on the altar at St Albans Cathedral.

The ‘Book of Benefactors' on the altar at St Albans Cathedral. - Credit: St Albans Cathedral

Lives and Legacies explores the rich tradition of gift-giving and benefaction evident in the Book of Benefactors.

This stunning 15th century manuscript – loaned to the Cathedral by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge – records the gifts given to the Abbey by men and women of both high and low status.

You can get up close and personal to this magnificent manuscript to marvel at the colourful, illuminated portraits in its pages.

You can also learn about the monks, royalty, townspeople, and pilgrims who lived and worshipped in the city’s beautiful Cathedral.

A page from the ‘Book of Benefactors'

A page from the ‘Book of Benefactors' - Credit: © The Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 007 f.108

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Acting Dean, Rev. Kevin Walton, said: “It is a great delight to welcome home this very precious ‘Book of Benefactors’ – a book which testifies to the resilience of this Cathedral, and the Abbey community before it, and to all those individuals who have supported it through the centuries, and continue to do so.”

The Lives and Legacies exhibition is part of a city-wide celebration of the manuscripts of St Albans Abbey.

St Albans Cathedral and St Albans Museum + Gallery have put together a jam-packed schedule of Medieval Summer events for all of the family to enjoy.

Visit the Cathedral and museum’s websites to find out more about this exciting programme of events.

Why a Medieval Summer?

The history of St Albans Cathedral spans the entirety of the medieval period.

Its story stretches from the time of St Alban’s execution at the hands of Roman soldiers c.300, through the founding of the monastery by King Offa in 793 and the beginnings of the present building in 1077, until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.

After being closed to visitors for much of the last year and a half, the Cathedral is delighted to be able to host a programme of summer events for the whole family to enjoy. 

Expect everything from animal handling displays, manuscript illumination workshops and pottery demonstrations to talks, tours and an exhibition on medieval manuscripts via medieval mystery plays and musical performances.

The new Lives and Legacies exhibition is kindly supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.