This Book of Hours is decorated on nearly every page with a multitude of striking small miniatures, historiated initials and bas-de-page scenes, among which feature figures holding shields with coats of arms of the Beauchamp-Corbet family, and of related families.
The book was made for the noble lady Beatrice Beauchamp-Corbet-Leyburn (d. 1347). It was made on the occasion of her second marriage to John Leyburn of Great Berwick. It is striking how painstakingly and skilfully the heraldry of this book is carried out. It shows the commissioner's great interest and concern in honouring her family's memory. To the researcher's great delight, the book is also dated (almost certainly by the first scribe's hand) to the year 1328 on the first calendar page. It seems to indicate the year of the book's execution.
The two or three artists who collaborated in this book are associated with the so-called Milemete workshop active in London in the 1320s, named after their work in the treatise of Walter of Milemete made for Edward III. Our manuscript can be compared with the Hours of Hawisia De Bois. The chief hand in both is Hand II of the Milemete manuscript, who is also called the 'De Bois Master'. Some miniatures in this volume show rare and most unusual iconographies. For instance, we find a historiated initial that depicts a funeral service attended exclusively by animals. Why such an unusual topic for the Office of the Dead was chosen is still a mystery.
English Books of Hours are very rare, especially compared to those from France. The Beauchamp Hours is the only known example of its kind in commerce.