Felbrigge Psalter

Embroidered front cover of the Felbrigge Psalter, c. 1250, France. Embroidered front cover of the Felbrigge Psalter, c. 1250, France. © The British Library Board, Shelfmark Sloane MS 2400, item f.84r.

The Felbrigge Psalter is housed in the British Library. It dates to the mid-thirteenth century and was probably made in France. The illuminated psalter is particularly famous for the embroideries set into each of its eighteenth century leather-restored covers. The Psalter was owned in the fifteenth century by Anne (de) Felbrigge, daughter of Sir Simon de Felbrigge, of Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk (near Cromer), hence its name.

The embroidery set into the front cover shows the Annunciation (with a small kneeling figure at the foot; this may be the original [female] owner), while the back cover has an illustration of the Crucifixion, with Mary and St John. The embroidered tablets measure 12 x 14.5 cm, and the work is carried out on a linen material (two layers) with a ground of surface couched silver-gilt thread with a silk core, in a chevron pattern, while the figures are being embroidered with fine silk thread and split stitch. The silk threads show various shades of green, blue, grey, brown, fawn and white, and deep roze pink. The embroideries are regarded as a form of opus anglicanum with surface couching.

The Psalter was originally housed in Saint Peter's Parish Church, Bruisyard, Suffolk, the home of one of the nuns of the former local convent, Anne Felbrigge. In the eighteenth century the Psalter had come into the possession of Sir Hans Sloane, whose collection formed the basis of the British Library that opened in 1753.


  • CHRISTIE, Grace (1928). 'English primitives - London painters and Opus Anglicanum,' The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, vol. 53, no. 308 (November 1928), p. 266.
  • DAVENPORT, Cyril (1904). 'Embroidered bindings of Bibles in the possession of the British and Foreign Bible Society,' The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 4, No. 12 (March 1904), pp. 267-280.
  • OWEN-CROCKER, Gale, COATSWORTH, Elizabeth, and HAYWARD, Maria (eds., 2012). Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles, 450-1450. Leiden: Brill 2012, esp. pp. 205-206.
  • WALLIS, P. (1987). 'The embroidered binding of the Felbrigge Psalter,' British Museum Journal 13, pp. 71-78.

Wikipedia (retrieved 4 June 2016).

British Library online catalogue (retrieved 3 June 2016). See also British Library embroidered book coverings.


Last modified on Monday, 20 March 2017 12:34
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