How we funded The Luttrell Psalter Film.

Summer/Autumn 2006

We began by contacting the Heritage Lottery for funding, as we thought that would be the natural route. However, because we were making a film, no matter how strong the heritage credentials, we were not eligible for funding.  Also, as we were not planning to make a ‘cutting edge’ film, we were not eligible for any film funding either.

Six months on we were beginning to lose hope, when we had a meeting with two of the University of Lincoln’s Media department staff: David Sleight (now a Dean of the University) and Andrew MacKay. They immediately saw the originality and potential of the film, coupled with the fact that it was being made for a specific venue (The Collection), and offered a notional sum of money which we could draw on for the hire of equipment, studios and specialist staff time (so long as we didn’t compete with students needs). With their support we suddenly had the credibility to seek further funding.

North Kesteven District Council paid for a facsimile copy of the Luttrell Psalter. This was followed by financial sponsorship from Bishop Grosseteste University CollegeLincolnshire Co-operative Ltd sponsored us to a sum which amounted to almost half of the total raised. Individual businesses sponsored individual elements of the project: Cool Milk at School sponsored the medieval milk jugs; and Ruddocks of Lincoln (art supplier and printers) sponsored the recreation on vellum of two gilded and illuminated pages from the Luttrell Psalter. We were even sponsored by the Director’s grandparents!

LOVEN Patents and Trademarks provided us with the use of two offices – one for the film side and the other for costume. These are still used by WAG Screen.

In total we raised about £10,500, barely enough to cover our costs and everybody pretty well worked for free. We even bartered time and talent for resources – the harrow, for example, cost two Tudor shirts. But, with a lot of love and dedication, it was just enough!

Fooling around

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The Collection

Spring 2006

As soon as we thought about making a Luttrell Psalter film, we immediately considered its educational value. The images of everyday medieval life from the Luttrell Psalter have for years been used to illustrate history books and more (so much so, that now the images are more famous than the manuscript they originated from!). We felt that a film of the images could do so much more towards inspiring children to take an interest in the medieval world.

The manuscript was made for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, of Irnham in Lincolnshire, so there is a strong local connection with the book, and Lincoln’s prestigious new museum, The Collection, has an excellent exhibition of combined medieval archaeology and Luttrell images (pictured below).

So it made sense for us to approach The Collection to see if they would be interested in having a film to show to school parties. The Collection management immediately saw the wider potential too and were thrilled at the possibility of having such a film. We now had to set about raising the money so we could make it!

The Collection

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How WAG Screen got its name.

WAG stands for Washingborough Archaeology Group. All of the founder members of WAG Screen are active members of WAG. Two of the WAG members, Chris Roberts and Nick Loven, regularly filmed and photographed the group at work creating a number of archaeology-based short films and films for the annual archaeology conference in Lincolnshire.

WAG Augering 072

Above James Rackham and Alex Loven augering to examine the sediment of the Witham Valley

However, rather than compete with WAG for funding we decided to create a sister group, WAG Screen, to make the Luttrell Psalter Film. WAG Screen still records the activities of WAG as well as telling the stories of Lincolnshire’s history and heritage through the media of film, photography and web sites. If you want to find out more about WAG Screen’s constitution click here. If you want to know more about WAG follow the link.

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The Luttrell Psalter Manuscript

The Luttrell Psalter is a decorated manuscript written and illuminated from about 1325 to 1340 for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell of Irnham in Lincolnshire. The Luttrell Psalter was not the first to include scenes of contemporary rustic life, but it is exceptional in their number and fascinating detail. Its lively and often humorous images provide a virtual ‘documentary’ of work and play during a year on an estate such as Sir Geoffrey’s’ The British Library

LP shepherds

The manuscript is held in the British Library and at the time we first began the project we didn’t realise that the British Library was planning to publish a facsimile edition. We contacted the publishers and they lent us a desk copy prior to publication for us to research the images.

This is what the B.L. says about the book: ‘The Luttrell Psalter is one of the British Library’s supreme treasures. It has more than 600 pages and the delicate task of recreating this masterpiece of English medieval art so accurately into a complete full size facsimile edition has taken well over a year to achieve. Every stage of the production process has been subjected to the greatest attention to detail, from reproducing the subtle effect of fine worked gold and silver that decorate the pages of the manuscript, to finding a modern paper which matches the weight and feel of the original animal skin vellum pages. This is a huge book in every sense: it measures over 7 cm in depth (and 36 cm long by 24.5 cm wide), and weighs just over 5 kilos. Very few people before have had the chance to turn and admire these wonderful pages; now it is open to everyone to do so in the comfort and leisure of their own home. This is a rare opportunity to own a superlative facsimile of one of the greatest medieval manuscripts anywhere in the world, and we anticipate demand to be high. The volume also contains a 64-page scholarly commentary by leading medieval manuscripts expert Michelle P. Brown, which details the history of the manuscript and includes a folio-by-folio description.’

The Facsimile was published in October 2006 and is now out of print.

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The Luttrell Psalter Film beginnings…

In March 2006, I was working on a project creating costumes from various periods of Lincolnshire’s history. Chief amongst the sources I was using for the Medieval period was the Luttrell Psalter, with its amazing images of everyday life in the 14th century.

LP cherry tree boy

When my son Nick Loven, a filmmaker, saw these images – he observed ‘hm, they would make a film’ – and so it began!

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The Luttrell Psalter Film

This blog is a retrospective on the making of the Luttrell Psalter film.

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