The versions of the Sarum Customary

This section includes a short introduction to the Old Customary and the New Customary.

Three main forms of the Sarum Customary are known. There are two significantly different versions of the Old Customary: the oldest text found in the Register of St Osmund, and a revised version found in a manuscript that in due course belonged to the parish church at Risby, Suffolk. Both versions relate to ritual practice in the first cathedral at Salisbury. This building was superseded by the new cathedral (begun in 1220), which incorporates some of the stone from the first cathedral, now a ruin at Old Sarum.

The New Customary represents the third form. The New Customary relates to ritual practice at the second cathedral that still stands in the city of Salisbury. Two texts of the New Customary are included here, one from the cathedral, the other of unknown provenance but now at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Both date from the fourteenth century.

All three versions of the Sarum Customary appeared in printed editions in the nineteenth century. The best known edition is that made by W. H. Frere, The Use of Sarum, I (Cambridge, 1898). Frere presents the text of the revised version of the Old Customary and the Corpus Christi College, Oxford text of the New Customary, with reference to and addition of materials from other surviving sources. There is a discussion of this edition.