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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
British Library saves manuscript
The Wardington Hours
The manuscript was created in the early 1400s
The British Library has raised 635,000 to save a rare 15th Century manuscript from being exported.

The manuscript, called The Wardington Hours, was sold to a German dealer at auction in December.

But culture minister David Lammy placed an export ban on the book to give the library a chance to match the price.

The 45-page manuscript is decorated in gold leaf and illustrates part of the story of Christ. It will be displayed at the British Library from 28 June.

"It is an exceptionally fine manuscript in remarkably fresh condition," said Dr Scot McKendrick, head of western manuscripts at the library.

"The beautiful miniatures, which have retained all their original brilliance, are equal in quality to the very best illumination produced in Paris at this time."

Anonymous artist

The manuscript comes from the collection of the late Lord Wardington and was created by an anonymous artist known as the Bedford Master.

It tells the story of Christ from betrayal to entombment, and was made in the Bedford Workshop in Paris in the early 1400s.

The acquisition was supported by a 250,000 grant from The Art Fund, together with donations from Friends of the National Libraries, Friends of the British Library and Breslauer Bequest.

A Book of Hours is a collection of Christian devotions based on the Psalms for recitation at different times of the day.

It is thought The Wardington Hours may once have formed part of a complete Book of Hours now held in the Huntington Library in California.

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