The Tudor mansion at Rycote housed its own library with a substantial collection of books. A 1780 sale catalogue of furnishings and fittings at Rycote lists a total of three hundred and fifty printed works (MS. Top. Oxon. b. 121, fols. 73v-75v). Another catalogue, drawn up in 1801, lists over one thousand titles (MS. Top. Oxon. c. 382, fols. 57v-103). The books range in date from 1506 to 1788. It is not clear, however, when or by whom the collection may have been created. It is impossible to tell, for example, if any of the sixteenth-century titles were collected by Rycote’s Tudor owners.
In addition to the book collection, it would appear that Rycote was also home to a small collection of manuscripts. The 1780 sale catalogue and the 1801 Rycote library catalogue contain eight references to manuscripts. Details of their date and provenance, however, are not included. Only two manuscripts, which are not listed in either the 1780 or 1801 catalogues, can be confidently described as being at Rycote prior to 1700. The first is a fourteenth to fifteenth-century cartulary of Abingdon Abbey which is known to have been in the possession of Henry, 1st Baron Norris of Rycote, in 1594 (De La Mare, Lyell MSS., p. 37). The second is an address delivered to Elizabeth I, probably upon her visit to the University of Oxford in 1566.
The medieval cartulary of Notley Abbey is also recorded as being at Rycote in 1733 (MS. Hearne’s diaries 138, fols. 129-30). This manuscript is said to have been destroyed in a bonfire, along with much of the Rycote House archive, when the Tudor mansion was demolished in 1807 (Salter, Hearne, vol. xi, p. 166). This manuscript may have come to Rycote through John, Baron Williams of Thame. Williams was involved of the suppression of Notley Abbey in 1538 (LP Henry VIII, vol. 13 pt. 2, p. 433).
The Rycote library
The Tudor mansion at Rycote housed its own library with a substantial collection of books.
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