The only surviving copy of a William Caxton book published in 1487 was bought by the National Trust (NT) for public display.
The NT bought the Sarum Missal, published by the first English printer, in order to display it from next year in the library of Lyme Park, where it was owned by the Legh family for generations.
Mark Purcell, the NT’s Libraries Curator said: “The acquisition of the Sarum Missal is hugely exciting and presents us with a wonderful opportunity to share this intriguing and historic book. It is one of only two Caxtons in the world which has remained in the ownership of a single family for 500 years.”
Bought for £465,000, the sacred book was originally used to celebrate Mass and many similar books were destroyed in the Reformation. Of the original 266 leaves, 243 have survived and include among them two hand-coloured woodcuts.
The unique William Caxton book was bought by the NT with the help of the Art Fund.