Warden Abbey Manuscripts

Trinity College Library has the largest collection of manuscripts in the country from the Cistercian Abbey of Warden in Bedfordshire. These 14 volumes have recently been digitised and are freely available online via the Wren Digital Library selected using the donor search facility.

B.4.13, f.1r

Alternatively you can link to individual manuscripts direct from this blog. The manuscripts are:

B.3.22, Augustine;

B.4.8, Gregorius, Moralia, XII–XXIII;

B.4.11, Origenes, Homiliae;

B.4.12, Gregorius; Origenes; Beda;

B.4.13, Cassiodorus in Psalmos LI–C;

B.4.14, Cassiodorus in Psalmos CI–CL;

B.4.15, Augustinus, De verbis domini;

B.4.16, Iohannes Chrysostomus, Hom. in Hebr., in Matt;

B.4.17, Hieronymus in Ieremiam et Danielem;

B.4.31, Ambrosii tractatus;

B.4.32, Beda in Genesim, etc;

B.5.11, Hieronymus in Isaiam;

B.15.26, Hieronymus, De sacramentis I.;

O.2.25, Ricardus de S. Victore.

At the start of one of the Warden volumes (B.4.15) there is a list of titles headed by the name R. Manley.

B.4.15, f.1v

Of the 32 titles listed, 16 are in the Wren Library contained within the Warden volumes. One other title owned by the Library (B.3.23) appears on Manley’s list but has not, to date, been verified as from Warden. Manley has not been identified with certainty but this list suggests that Warden manuscripts were in his ownership in the 16th century. These titles were later included in a list in the College Memoriale (R.17.8)  – a volume describing benefactors to Trinity – as ‘ad collegium pertinentes’, ie ‘belonging to the college’. The placing of the list in the volume implies that the donation was made between 1633 and 1637, but there is no indication of who gave them. Former Librarian Philip Gaskell suggested that they may have been received by the college in payment of a debt.

R.17.8, f.115r

All of the Warden manuscripts date from the 12th/early 13th century which suggests that they were at the abbey soon after its foundation in 1135. The Abbey was surrendered to the Crown on 4th December 1537 and there is now nothing left of the original buildings. The photograph below shows only the remaining section of the 5-bedroom farmhouse built after the suppression by Robert Gostwick. The greater part of the farmhouse (often referred to as a mansion) was demolished c.1785 before the site was purchased by Samuel Whitbread.

Gostwick Mansion, south front © Margaret Roberts

Further information can be found on the Medieval Libraries of Great Britain Database.

With thanks to Margaret Roberts.