Mobile menu
Little Gidding community

[The Little Gidding Concordances]. The Whole law of God as it is delivered in ye five bookes of Moses methodically distributed into three greate classes morall ceremoniall politicall ... c.1642

72.5 x 51.5 x 9.4 cm (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1123464

Your share link is...


  • The Little Gidding Community was an Anglican religious community established by Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637) at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire (Cambridgeshire) in 1625. The community was formed of his extended family and servants.

    One devotional activity pursued by the community was the creation of biblical harmonies and concordances. The creation of these concordances involved cutting, arranging and pasting Bible verses and excerpts from other religious tracts onto pages, which were then collated and bound. Most of the books, including this one, were also richly illustrated with collaged engravings of Biblical scenes.

    Most of the Little Gidding books were Gospel harmonies, which amalgamated the four Gospels so that they could be read as one single narrative. But other works included a concordance of the books of Kings and Chronicles, several multi-lingual harmonies, and two typological works examining the first five books of the Bible.

    Originally, the books were produced for the devotional use of the community. However, the industry expanded in the 1630s, and the community began to make books on commission for wealthy patrons and as gifts for friends. King Charles I visited the community and commissioned several books for his own use.

    Nicholas Ferrar and his brilliant young nephew (also Nicholas) composed and directed the creation of the books, but the cutting, pasting and even binding of the works was entrusted in the main to Ferrar's nieces, and was seen as an excellent way to keep their hands and minds busy on pious work. The poet George Herbert, who was a friend of Ferrar and was given a Little Gidding harmony, wrote that he "most humbly blessed God that he had lived now to see women’s scissors brought to so rare a use as to serve at God’s altar."

    This book was the last, largest and most magnificent to be made at Little Gidding, and includes the first five books of the Bible, interspersed with excerpts from several works of typology, and richly illustrated with primarily Dutch and Flemish engravings. It was composed as an attempt at reconciling Old and New Testament law. This volume was almost certainly made for Charles II when he was Prince of Wales. He and his father Charles I saw the book, unfinished, as they fled north from London in 1642, at which time one of their court called it the “gallantest, greatest book in the world.”

    Charles II never received the finished book, and for many years it was lost. It was rediscovered walled up in a secret cupboard in an English house in the early nineteenth century. In 1953 it was presented to Queen Elizabeth II, and is one of the Royal Library's largest books.

    Another example of work by the Little Gidding community is RCIN 37036, a needlework casket.

    Binding information

    Contemporary purple velvet binding with gold-tooling on both sides and spine. Likely bound by the Little Gidding community.

    Design identical on both sides: on three sides (all but spine side), an outer border of multiple rolls, including dots and triangles; all four sides, a larger inner border formed of five rows of separate tools, beginning on the outer with fleurons, followed by browns, roses, crowns and fleurons; in each of the inner corners, a quarter-sunburst design, built up from separate circle tools and filled in the centre with a dotted circle surmounted by a diamond-shaped fan tools and fleurons, with fleur-des-lis to either sides; in the centre, a full sunburst design, built up from separate circle tools and filled with ovals and fleurons.

    Insides of both boards gold-tooled with a border of separate diamond tools; evidence on both sides of red silk toes.

    Flat spine, tooled with an outer border of triangular and circle tools; head and tail of spine tooled with rows of fleurons, crowns and rose tools, identical to both sides; upper and lower sections of spine tooled with half-sunburst designs built up from separate circular tools; centre of spine tooled with a full sunburst design, also built of separate circular tools, with rays formed of fleurons and ovals and the centre filled with fleurons.

    Contemporary marbled endpapers; all edges gilt.

    The fan tools used in the corners on both sides are identical to those used on British Library C 23, e 4, a 1635 Bible and Gospels also compiled and bound by the Little Gidding community, possibly for Charles I.

    Presented to Queen Elizabeth II by Mrs HPL Gaussen of Sydney, 1953

  • Measurements

    72.5 x 51.5 x 9.4 cm (book measurement (conservation))

    73.0 x 9.0 cm (book measurement (inventory))

    80.5 x 15.0 cm (book in box)

  • Alternative title(s)

    The Holy Bible

    Moses unveiled / by William Guild.

    Christ revealed : or the Old Testament explained / by Thomas Tailor.

    The Genealogies recorded in the sacred scriptures / by John Speed.

    Christus : sive dicta et facta Christi / by Henry Tozer.

    The Eternal truth of the scriptures, vol. 1 of Comments upon the Apostles' creed / by Thomas Jackson.

    The Humiliation of the son of God, vol. 8 of Comments upon the Apostles' creed / by Thomas Jackson.

  • Place of Production

    Little Gidding