Treatment FOCUS: A Unique 17th-century Bindery
Nicholas Ferrar was born to a wealthy family in London in 1592. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, he pursued various business prospects in London. Upon losing a substantial amount of money to the Virginia Company, Ferrar moved to Little Gidding, a small town roughly 80 miles north of London. He bought the Little Gidding manor house and grounds and was soon joined by his mother, sister, brother, and their families. Together, they restored the church on the property’s grounds and dedicated the majority of their activities to religious devotion.
The structure and activities of the community weren’t defined by any specific doctrine other than an adherence to the Book of Common Prayer. They prayed several times throughout the day and established a prayer schedule so that a member of the household was in prayer at all times. Along with running the household, the family members carried out various religiously-focused activities.
One such task was the copying and production of books. The Ferrars were visited by a woman whose family had a bookbinding business in Cambridge. Under her tutelage, many members of the household learned bookbinding, and the Little Gidding community produced and bound various religious volumes. They are especially well known for their bound albums of Harmonies, which they constructed by cutting gospels and other texts from existing books and then rearranging, illustrating, and binding them into new works.