A Book of Ours (2018-2021)

An ancient manuscript for our time

People who have experienced homelessness have made a medieval-style illuminated manuscript, describing their lives, hopes and dreams, in a 2-year project.

Together we made an illuminated manuscript, working at the Booth Centre and Back on Track and other support centres, such as Inspiring Change Manchester. The book gathers together significant events, dates, people, celebrations and memorials.

‘A book of ours’ gives a wide cross-section of hugely individual lives. Our hope was that by doing this we reassert the identity and the individuality of people who are sometimes dismissed as “homeless” when they are so much more.

Click Download for your free Book of Ours catalogue. Featuring a photo of every page in the hand made book, participants quotes, forewords from Amanda Croome (Booth Centre) and John Hodgson (John Rylands Library) a full list of participants, and short essays from artist Lois Blackburn, writer Philip Davenport, musician Matt Hill, Calligrapher Stephen Raw and Professor Jeffrey Robinson.

Homeless lives don’t appear in any history books, but the A Book of Ours project aimed to change that, with participants constructing their own accounts of homeless life throughout the year, with artwork, poems and songs to illustrate it. 

Musician Matt Hill worked with people to create an album of songs, inspired by Medieval music, here you can listen a selection of these songs.

In September 2021 we received emergency funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to run socially-distanced workshops (including online activities and phone calls) to keep connected with participants in this project. An extra chapter of the illuminated manuscript was created to document people’s experience during the lockdown on paper and in song.

A Book of Ours was first exhibited in an unbound form at Bury Art Museum and from 14th October until Christmas it will be on exhibition at Manchester Cathedral. We are delighted to share that in 2022, it will accepted into the John Ryland’s Library, as part of their permanent collection.

Project in numbers

155 participants took part, 102 men and 53 women.

100 pages in the handmade bound book


2021 Bury Art Museum

2021 Manchester Cathedral

More Information

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With thanks to all the National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund.


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