November 21, 2012, by Dorothy Johnston
Wollaton’s Virtual Antiphonal on display
Ticket holders to a special ‘Tombs and Tunes’ event at St Leonard’s Church, Wollaton on Monday, 26th November will discover more of the history of this Nottinghamshire parish church and will have an opportunity to hear about the 15th century Wollaton Antiphonal, which is on display in virtual form in the church.
Dating from about 1430, the Wollaton Antiphonal was made for Sir Thomas Chaworth of Wiverton Hall, Nottinghamshire, and contains many heraldic images relating to the Chaworth family. Within a few years of Chaworth’s death in 1459 it was bought for the use of Wollaton Parish Church. From the time of the Reformation it was kept in the Library of Wollaton Hall until 1924, when Lord Middleton presented the volume to St Leonard’s parish church. Since 1974 the Antiphonal has been in the care of the University of Nottingham.
Over the centuries the manuscript suffered extensive damage but recent conservation treatment has made it safe and enabled its digitisation. Now, visitors to the church can view some 75 pages from the Antiphonal, via a touch-screen on a kiosk in the church. Readers can ‘turn the pages’, using the technology originally developed for the British Library. Details of the sumptuous decoration of key pages can be viewed through high resolution images. Information panels explain the significance of the page in question and add comments about the decoration, liturgy, heraldry, and music. Notes are provided about the manuscript’s physical history and a podcast briefly describes recent conservation and rebinding work. The community of the church was itself involved in the work – there are links on a number of pages to plainchant sung by members of the choir in St Leonard’s.
The virtual edition of the Wollaton Antiphonal was created over a 12-month period by a team from the University of Nottingham led by Emeritus Professor Thorlac Turville-Petre (School of English Studies). The project was funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and involved a network of academic and curatorial colleagues in other institutions.
Web access to alternative versions of the Virtual Antiphonal has also been developed, and there are links to other web resources about the history and contents of the Wollaton Antiphonal.
A free leaflet describes the manuscript and the various projects that have been undertaken to conserve, research and deliver it as a virtual resource.
The ‘Tombs and Tunes’ event is being run in aid of St Leonard’s organ fund. For more information contact Mr Malcolm Stacey on 0115 978 5718.