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            The Parish Church of St. Mary,

           Penwortham

The Breviary

Regular church services in the Middle Ages were the Mass (for monastics, clergy and people) and the Canonical Hours Services (for monastics and clergy).

The Canonical Hours Services – Mattins and Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, vespers and Compline – were the services on which the Anglican Morning and Evening Prayer ( Mattins and Evensong) are based.  Short services spread throughout the day – of psalms, canticles, lives of the saints.  Bible readings, set sermons, sung responses, hymns and prayers – they were obligatory for monastics and clergy. And while the component parts of the Mass were set out in a book called the missal, the component parts and ordering of theses services were set out in a book called a Breviary.

The Penwortham Breviary, which has passed through many hands since being used at Penwortham, follows the Use of Sarum. This is the ordering of church services pioneered by Bishop Osmund, used by Salisbury Cathedral and adopted throughout the Province of Canterbury by 1542 – at which time both Penwortham and the mother House were in that Province. Written in clear and regular Gothic script, in black and red, the Penwortham Breviary can be dated about 1310. On one of the pages is a note, dated 1486 and written by Thomas Harwode, Chaplain to the parish Church. It presents the manuscript to Saint Mary’s and warns that if the Breviary is used for teaching boys to sing, then it should not be left in their charge “and through their carelessness be reduced to nothing in a few years”!

In 1964 the British Museum Quarterly included an article about the Penwortham Breviary, an extract of which is given below.

The Breviary came up for sale in 1963 and was acquired by the British Museum, where it is occasionally on view.  Photographs of some of the pages of the Breviary can be viewed on-line at the British Library website.

The Manors

After Henry VIII had dissolved the Monasteries and put them at his own disposal, he sold to Joh Fleetwood in 1543 the Manor which John had earlier leased from the Abbot of Evesham. This Manor remained in the hands of the Fleetwood (except for a brief period in the 17th century when it was sequestered by Parliament) until in 1746 Henry Fleetwood died childless and in debt. By a special Act of Parliament (1748) the estates were sold to John Aspinall in 1749 and he sold them to James Barton of Ormskirk.

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The Breviary came up for sale in 1963 and was acquired by the British Museum, where it is occasionally on view.  Photographs of some of the pages of the Breviary can be viewed on-line at http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex. Below is a page of  Advent Hymns and Prayers.