September 2019

The Cotswold Olympics Rebound

Welcome to The Arts Society Knole
Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 13:45

The story of the Cotswold Olympics

Printed in 1636, Annalia Dubrensia, is an exceptionally rare and valuable book which celebrates the Cotswold Olympics and their founder, Robert Dover.  This lecture tells the story of these Olympics and then shows in detail the cleaning, mending and rebinding in period style, of this charming little book.

The original version of this book was to some degree a series of semi-political pamphlets published in 1636 and is an anthology. Some poems were written especially and some were previous works that fitted “the bill”.
The authors were partly national figures and some local figures with various levels of talent. The binding and production is best described as affordable and made its distribution more widespread. It’s probable its aim was to counteract the rising puritan opposition to sports, games and anything considered frivolous or enjoyable.
It is probable it had Royal support and possible patronage, can it be coincidence that Prince Rupert is reported to have attended the Games in 1636, the same year as its initial publication. Armies at the time were recruited locally so a fit and relatively athletic young male population was essential. Certainly the ensuing Civil War dragged many young men in to the military, on both sides.
Mass publication of the printed word, especially in English had only been around for about a hundred years, many people were either semi-literate or illiterate so tracts in verse were easier to learn, remember and pass on. Poetry is a powerful tool in propaganda, songs are poems set to music and stir nations and individuals alike.


Mr Dominic Riley

A bookbinder, artist and teacher. He first learned bookbinding at 16 from Benedictine Monks at Douai Abbey in Berkshire and later at the London College of Printing. He has worked at the V&A, and for various binderies in London, New York and San Francisco, and spends part of the year teaching across the USA. He has his bindery in the Lake District, from where he travels across the UK teaching master classes and lecturing. He is Vice President of the Society of Bookbinders and was elected a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 2008. His binding work is mostly the restoration of antiquarian books and Design Bindings. He has won many prizes in the Designer Bookbinders competition, including both first prizes and the Mansfield Silver Medal in 2007. His bindings are in collections worldwide, including the British Library and the John Rylands Library in Manchester. In 2010 he bound a special copy of the winner of the Booker Prize which was presented to the author. In June 2013 he won first prize in the prestigious Sir Paul Getty International Bookbinding Competition. His winning binding was acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.