Historic music on display

A HISTORIC manuscript of religious music has officially gone on display to the public.

Hartlepool Borough Council has loaned Durham Cathedral’s library the 530-year-old Italian Antiphoner.

The iconic piece was written around 1481 for the Benedictine abbey of San Prospero at Reggio d’Emilia, in Italy.

It was donated to the council’s museum and library service in 1920, but has no cultural or historic links to the town.

The enormous manuscript contains the liturgical psalter and hymns to be said or sung alternately between the priest and the choir.

The Hartlepool Mail reported last October that independent councillor Hilary Thompson, the authority’s then-portfolio holder for culture, leisure and tourism, approved the loan.

The historic artefact had previously been stored in Hartlepool’s Central Library.

But library bosses could not find an affordable display option which could guarantee sufficient security.

Now the artefact has taken up residence on a long-term loan basis at the cathedral.

Diane Marlborough, the council’s reference librarian, said: “We were delighted to be able to lend this beautiful manuscript to the cathedral where it will be displayed to the public from time to time under the proper conservation conditions.”

Coun Thompson attended a reception at the monk’s dormitory at the cathedral earlier this week, when the manuscript was formally welcomed.

The cathedral library’s collection consists of manuscripts dating back to the seventh century.

It continues to build its collections through purchases, deposits, and gifts.

The volume is illuminated with initials in red, blue and green and the binding consists of metal corners and side-pieces to protect the vellum pages.

Ruth Robson, head of marketing and events at Durham Cathedral, said: “The acquisition of this beautiful manuscript significantly strengthens Durham’s outstanding collections of music manuscripts and early printed books.”