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The Chirk Castle partbooks*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2008

Peter le Huray
St Catharine's College, Cambridge


The existence of an unsuspected and valuable set of Anglican Services and anthems first became generally known when they were catalogued at Sotheby's London Salerooms in 1969. It may seem remarkable that a major source of pre-Restoration church music should have escaped the puplic gaze for some 350 years: it is perhaps just as surprising that so rich a repertory should have originated from Chirk Castle, a remote spot close to the Welsh border in the county of Clwyd (formerly Denbighsihire).

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1982

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New York Public Library, Ms Mus. Res. *MNZ (Chirk), acquired form Richard Macnutt Ltd (see Macnutt, Music Catalogue, no. 101 (Sevenoaks, 1970), pp. 28–36). I am most greatful to susan T. Sommer, Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Collection, Music Division, for invaluable help in the preparation of this article.


1 See the Sotheby's sale catalogue.

2 Camden, W., Britain, or A Chorographical Description of the Most Flourishing Kingdoms, England, Scotland and Ireland (London, 1637), p. 677Google Scholar.

3 See Clutton, C. and Niland, A., The British Organ (London, 1963), p. 55Google Scholar.

4 Thomas, D. L., ‘Myddleton, Sir Thomas’, Dictionary of National Biography, ed. Lee, S., xiii (London, 1909). pp. 1338–40. see p. 1338Google Scholar.

5 Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, Chirk Castle Collection, MS 6368, group F.

6 See Daniel, R. T. and le Huray, P., The Sources of English Church Music 1549–1660, Early English Church Music, supplement 1 (London, 1972)Google Scholar.

7 See Jeans, S., ‘Musical Life at Exeter Cathedral’, The Quarterly Record of the Incorporated Association of Organists, 43 (1958), p. 103Google Scholar.

8 See The Registers of … the City of Exeter, i: The Registers of the Cathedral, ed. Reynell-Upham, W. V. and Soper, H.T., Devon and Colrnwall Record Society (Exeter, 1910), p. 58Google Scholar.

9 See Palmer, A. N., The History of the Parish Church of Wrexham (Wrexham, 1886)Google Scholar.

10 See Morehen, J., ‘The Sources of English Cathedral Music, c.1617–c.1664’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, 1969), pp. 457–63Google Scholar. Morehen proposes that Christ Church 6 is in the hand of Benjamin Cosyn, organist of Dulwich College from 1622 to 1624, and of Charterhouse, London from 1626 until organs were ‘prohibited’ in 1643. The Deane and Cosyn hands are not unalike, but there are many minor discrepancies that argue against the proposition. Though the connection between Cosyn and Deane (if any) has yet to be established, there is some evidence, as I hope to show later in this paper, that the Chirk copyist may have been in touch with John Barnard (see pp. 23–4).

11 For a discussion of Farrant's position in the early history of the verse anthem see le Huray, P., Music and the Reformation in England 1549–1660 (2nd edn, Cambridge, 1978), pp. 217–26Google Scholar.

12 The Batten organbook was formerly Tenbury, St Michael's College, MS 791; it is now in the Bodleian Library. Oxford.

13 For a discussion of the geographical distribution and dating of the major pre-Restoration sources, see le Huray, , Music and the Reformation, pp. 99100Google Scholar.

14 See le Huray, , Music and the Reformation, p. 158Google Scholar.

15 For an inventory of the Ludlow fragments, see Smith, A., ‘Elizabethan Music at Ludlow: a New Source’, Music & Letters, 49 (1968) p. 108Google Scholar.

16 The Southwell Minster tenor partbook was formerly Tenbury, St Michael's College, MS 1382; it is now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

17 Barnard, J., ed., The First Book of Selected Church Musick (London, 1641)Google Scholar.

18 See Morehen, ‘The Sources of English Cathedral Music’, p. 287; see also, Morehen, J., ed., The First Book of Selected Church Mustek, facs. edn (London, 1973)Google Scholar.

19 Ed. le Huray, P., The Treasury of English Church Music, ii (London, 1965; repr. 1982), p. 114Google Scholar. See Example 1 on p. 26 below.

20 Clark, B., Transposition in Seventeenth Century English Organ Accompaniments and the Transposing Organ, Detroit Monographs in Musicology 4 (Detroit, 1974)Google Scholar.

21 This copy of the printed pars organica of Tomkins's collection, formerly at St Michael's College, Tenbury, is now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.