There is a marked disconnect between the period during which the ten or so important Cluniac foundations in England were established and dates of the seven manuscript sources from which we might hope to get some idea as to their corporate worship. In one sense this should not trouble us much; patterns laid down in the customaries of the great age of Cluny itself, the abbacies of Odilo 994–1049 and Hugh 1049–1109, were meant to be normative in all the houses connected to it. In another, however, it is troubling that for the expression of Benedictine monasticism most celebrated for elaborate liturgical practice – the reputation, largely deserved, of the Cluniacs – we draw a blank among English sources until at least the third quarter of the thirteenth century.
The earliest of the ten English houses referred to above was Lewes, 1077, the latest Bro(o)mholm, 1113; the others are Much Wenlock, Castle Acre, Bermondsey, Montacute, Pontefract, Northampton, Lenton, and Thetford. The most extensive ruins are those at Acre, Wenlock, and Lewes. One liturgical book survives each from Lewes and Wenlock, none from Acre. For Pontefract both a breviary and a missal are extant, though of widely different dates. The remaining witnesses are scattered in type, date, and place of origin. The two we consider first are of a type not previously discussed.
Breviary-missals: priors' books?
These, the oldest books to be noticed, are a pair of combined breviary-missals, both rather splendid and probably designed for the use of a prior. The first was written, mostly in the third quarter of the thirteenth century, for Lewes.