The medieval era was the heyday of illuminated manuscripts. In the 14th and 15th centuries, there was a flowering of religious texts set into beautifully-decorated pages. Among these devotional books were psalters, or books of psalms. Hundreds of these were produced, but the Luttrell Psalter is remarkable for its whimsical, humorous and vivid pictures of rural life and a demonic world that is terrifying and grotesque.

This period also saw the development of literature in English. The great Geoffrey Chaucer, often called the Father of English Literature, took the bold decision to reject literary convention and write in English. His brilliant, bawdy satire, the Canterbury Tales, became a medieval bestseller and, as a result, when William Caxton set up his first printing press in London, he chose Chaucer’s tales as his first major English publication.

These wonderful books contain clever, often mysterious references for their readers and are crucial milestones in the story of the book, charting the last phase of the manuscript and the arrival of the printed book.

The Luttrell Psalter takes its name from its patron, Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, a wealthy English landowner in Lincolnshire. Its quality and character suggest that it was produced at enormous cost, and it’s thought to have been commissioned between 1330 and Sir Geoffrey’s death in 1345.

It’s usual for devotional books to be decorated, but these margins are dense with human activity. Almost every aspect of the countryside is depicted. So, are they documentary images or do they carry a more complicated message?