Important chapter in Nuneaton's history is back in town after more than 500 years

Manuscript is at heart of new exhibition celebrating important part of town's history

MP Marcus Jones with the historic book
MP Marcus Jones with the historic book

An important chapter in the history of Nuneaton has made a happy return to the town after a gap of more than 500 years - and MP Marcus Jones was among the first to see it.

The unique manuscript known as The Nuneaton Book is on loan from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. It belonged to Lady Margaret Sylemon who was head of Nuneaton Abbey in the late 14th century but originally dates back to about 1280. It is written and decorated by hand on parchment and contains several works in Latin and French, including the Apocalypse. It also displays a chant in praise of the Virgin Mary, part of the daily prayer routine for monks and nuns.

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It is part of a new exhibition, Nuneaton Abbey & The Birth of a Town, which draws on historical research, museum archaeological collections and features specially commissioned artwork - and runs until March 6.

Mr Jones said after his visit last Friday: "I was thrilled to visit Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery today to see this important book and important part of Nuneaton’s history. I was fascinated to listen to Catherine Nisbet and Matthew Johnson explain how the museum has secured the loan of this precious manuscript and how they are working with the local community including Abbey and Queens Primary Schools and the Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin to enhance a wonderful exhibition.

"The loan of the Nuneaton Book from the Fitzwilliam is a real coup for the museum and our town. I would urge Nuneatonians to come and see it.

"On Saturday, February 19 and Saturday, February 26, in addition there will also be an exhibition at the Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin between 10am and 2pm. This will include live music by the church organists. I hope to attend this and would urge local residents to visit this historic site which played a pivotal role in the birth of our town."

The exhibition is supported with funding from Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants. The museum is open on Tuesdays, 10.30am to 4.30pm, Wednesdays, 10.30am to 4.30pm, Thursdays (downstairs and tearoom only), 10.30 - 4.30pm, Fridays 10.30am to 4.30pm and Saturdays, 10.30 - 4.30pm. Admission is free but donations welcome.