English folding almanac in Latin

c. 1415-1420
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English folding almanac in Latin. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

About this work


A folding almanac in Latin, containing a calendar (three months per leaf) and astrological tables and diagrams. Produced in England c.1415-1420 (the calendar includes the feast of John of Beverley, whose cult was proclaimed by Henry V after victory at Agincourt on 7 May 1415). It follows the Kalendar ad meridiem Oxonie of John Somer (1380), and contains data for the four Metonic cycles starting in 1387, 1406, 1425 and 1444, with lists of solar eclipses between 1384 and 1462 and lunar eclipses between 1387 and 1462. Like the other twenty-nine folding almanacs known to be extant, it contains data that enabled medical practitioners and others to diagnose and prognosticate, as well as to obtain information about religious feasts and other key moments in the calendar. This example, with its silk binding and fine illustrations, may have been a luxury object.

Watch a video of the almanac


c. 1415-1420

Physical description

1 volume 7 vellum leaves, in a green and pink embroidered textile binding lined with purple velvet. Paper label tipped in after fol. 7. Binding measures 38 x 160 mm; leaves when folded measure 38 x 119 mm; leaves when unfolded measure 106 x 236 mm. Lacks the calendar leaf that would have covered July-September. Each leaf is folded three times and when opened out contains six rectangular compartments. Headings on verso, and text occasionally runs over onto verso. Written in brown, red, dark red, blue and purple ink with gold leaf. Each calendar month opens with a gilt 'KL' with purple penwork. Fol. 1: Calendar to the table of movable feasts, with large gilt initial 'A'. Fol. 2: Calendar for January-March. Fol. 3: Calendar for April-June. Fol. 4: Calendar for October-December. Fol. 5: Table of the planetary hours and degrees of the moon, with large miniature of the Zodiac Man in blue, red, dark red and brown ink with gilt border. Fol. 6: Lunar eclipses (second, third and fourth cycles) with diagrams in red and brown ink and gilt. Fol. 7: Solar eclipses with diagrams in blue, red and brown ink with gilt; first cycle of lunar eclipses with diagrams in red and brown ink with gilt.

Acquisition note

Purchased at Christie's (London, King Street) 20/11/2013, Lot 52

Related material

Wellcome Collection holds a copy of the almanac: created in 2015 by Rosemary Stevens and donated to the library by the artist.

The Wellcome Library holds two other folding almanacs, MS. 39 (a single leaf) and MS. 40 (7 leaves).

The library also holds a volume about the manuscript: Carey, J. (2018) MS. 8932 : a medieval embroidered folded almanac

Terms of use

Please consult the digitised version as this item needs to be accessed in our conservation studio. Email library@wellcomecollection.org to request an appointment.

Location of duplicates

Images of the almanac in entirety and images displaying the item as an artefact can be viewed on the Wellcome Images website.

Ownership note

Previously owned by Sir John English Dolben (c.1750-1837), 4th baronet of Finedon Hall, Northamptonshire, and the poet Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell (1887-1964). A paper label tipped in after fol. 7 has two inscriptions in different hands: 'This ancient and curious MS given to my Father by Sir English Dolben Bart. of Finedon Hall Northamptonshire' and 'Given by a descendant of the above, to Edith Sitwell, with deep and sincere gratitude, and affection. May 1940.'


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Accession number

  • 2034