The Books of Reading Abbey

Following the dissolution of Reading Abbey in 1539, its books were confiscated and many placed in the old Royal Library. This collection, originally set up under Edward IV, was given to the nation by George II and placed in the British Museum in 1757. The books are now held in the British Library, where they are catalogued with the prefix "Royal".
Other books from Reading Abbey were dispersed to various destinations.

The links are to information provided on the websites of the institutions where the books are held. The text itself is not held on the websites.

A talk given by Professor Anne Lawrence-Mathers in November 2019 reviewed some surviving manuscripts from Reading Abbey. Subsequently Professor Lawrence-Mathers wrote this blog based on her talk, discussing a number of the books in the list.

Book title and/or information


Institution where held


COMMENTARY ON LAMENTATIONS, in Latin, by Paschasius Radbertus, Abbot of Corbic [844-851]; in five books 9th British Library Royal MS 3 A iv
DIADEMA MONACHORUM, with some canon-law and historical notes, &c., in Latin. [Probably belonged to Leominster Priory] 12th British Library Royal MS 8 E xviii
A copy of Gratian's Decretum written, most likely, in England sometime during the 12th century. On the page "Front pastedown...(seq.3)" a former owner, George Dunn, has placed the label "From the library of George Dunn of Woolley Hall near Maidenhead". [though the text is no longer available for viewing] 12th Harvard University Library Harvard: 004051067
Four works: Paschasius Radbertus - Liber de benedictionibus patriarcharum, the only known copy of this work; Augustine - De origine animae; Hildebert of Tours - Expositio canonis missae - in verse; Ivo of Chartres - Sermo de sacramentis neophitorum habitus in sinodoy 12th Reading Museum REDMG : 1974.40.1
DISTINCTIONES magistri Mikaelis Meldensis super Psalterium: a commentary on the Psalter by Michael de Corbeil, Dean of Meaux, and afterwards [1194-1199] Archbishop of Sens. 13th British Library Royal MS 3 a vi
PETRUS COMESTOR, Historia Scholastica (cf. 2 C. i, xvii9, &c.), with other works and commonplaces, in Latin 13th British Library Royal MS 8 C ix
DIGESTVM VETVS, or the first part (lib. i-lib. xxiv, tit. iii, 1. i) of Justinian's Digest. 13th British Library Royal MS 11 C iii
'DECRETA GRATIANI' (so colophon): the Concordantia Discordantium Canonum, more usually called Decretum, of Gratian with the marginal apparatus of Bartholomaeus Brixiensis (a revision, circ. 1240, of the 'glossa ordinaria' of Johannes Teutonicus 13th-14th British Library Royal MS 9 C iii
Reading Abbey formulary: written as a tract on conveyancing, and sets out formulas for types of legal documents, apparently using real examples from the period 1227-1337, most from the abbey archives or those of its daughter monastery at Leominster, Herefordshire 14th Berkshire Record Office Berkshire Record Office: DEZ176
BIBLE, in French, from Genesis to Tobit; preceded by the epistle of Jerome to Paulinus 14th British Library Royal MS 1 C iii
ROBERT HOLCOT], 'Postilla super vi. capitula libri Ecclesiastici'. 14th British Library Royal MS 3 A xiv
'RACIONALE diuinorum officiorum': a treatise on the theology and canon law of the services of the Church, by Guilichnus [Duranti, the elder], Bishop of Mende 1286-1296 14th British Library Royal MS 7 E ix
'APPARATVS Innocentii quarti' in libros decretalium, including Innocent's own noveliae (cf. 9 C. IX). 14th British library Royal MS 9 F iii
'SVMMA SVMMARVM': an anonymous repertorium of canon law, evidently of English origin, together with two later tracts on Lollardism 14th British Library Royal MS 10 D x
'ARS DICTAMINVM magistri Thome de Capua' (Cardinal-priest of S. Sabina, d. 1243) 14th British Library Royal MS 11 A xvii
CONSTITUTIONS of Clement V and other texts and commentaries of canon law 14th British Library Royal MS 11 C xi
COMMENTARY ON WISDOM, anonymous, in Latin, in 213 chapters. 15th British Library Royal MS 4 C vi
'REPORTORIVM superlibrum sextum decretalium compositum per venerabilem virum magistrum Iohannem Monachum tituli sanctorum Marcellini et Petri. anno dom. millesimo ccmo. xco. octauo' 15th British Library Royal MS 11 C ii