Everyone likes a mystery right?
Here is a small one.
My parents have this tiny handmade book that has come down through our family. It sits in a silver box in their lounge room…pretty much unexamined over the years.
It has some water damage, and the binding glue has degraded through the spine. Some of the intricate handcrafted decorations on the covers have fallen away. It is a very fragile thing, and just to open it is to destroy it a little more.
There are inscriptions inside the front cover and first page that identify it as a gift given in 1680.
As for the details I can’t quite parse it. Is it Lady Nafisar of Rosellrod?
Or could it be Adsellrod…or Rasellrod?
The only reference I can find to Lady Nafisar is to a famous Muslim saint of Egypt born around 570.
According to the cover transcription, she was the daughter of lord Bellas. The only reference I can find to a Lord Bellas is that of a local patron to the Kiplingcotes Racecourse in Yorkshire in the early 1700s.
This racecourse holds claim as the oldest annual horse race in England stretching back to 1519. And Lord Bellas made a yearly donation of ten pounds (along with many other lords, sirs and esquires).
There is no record as to him having a daughter.
The contents are a neatly handwritten religious text. Being in olde English, it is difficult to read, and I don’t know if it is a transcribed text or the authors own words.
So that is the small mystery.
Who was Lady Nafisar? To whom did she gift this painstakingly handcrafted volume and why?
How many hands must it have passed through and what incredible adventures might this little book have experienced to bring it down through all these years to sit in my parent’s house?
Like all the best mysteries, this little one raises so many interesting questions. Unfortunately, the answers are now lost to time, deep within the DNA of its ink.
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