The project has now finished and this page is not being updated. For up-to-date information about the project and its outcomes, see the Previous Projects: Wollaton Library Collection HLF Project page.
The medieval manuscripts from Wollaton Hall library represent a rare and significant corpus of medieval textual and material artefacts. Their generally frail physical condition adds interest, retaining evidence of their original creation.
The manuscripts once formed part of an extensive private library at Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire, belonging to the Willoughby family. The dispersal of the Wollaton Hall library began with a major sale in 1925, and items originally in the Library can now be found in many different institutions and private collections.
The continuity of ownership and known archival context for these manuscripts gives them particular regional significance, and provides exciting evidence for the study of patronage, readership and provincial culture. Despite their significance, the manuscripts remained little known, but recent detailed work on the volumes and their history had revealed a wealth of new information. This is now being prepared for publication.
The literary, historical and cultural importance of the collection was noted by Stevenson in his Report on the Manuscripts of Lord Middleton (HMC, 1911). As a group, their significance was publicised locally in the University of Nottingham exhibition Image and Text (1996).
The Wollaton Library Collection was a discrete element of a family archive (the Middleton Collection) which has been curated by the University of Nottingham since 1947. In 2007 the medieval manuscripts were purchased by the University with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).