8th June 2021

Restoring the Devotional

The Fairfax House curatorial team are currently raising £500.00 to restore a very precious item from the collection, a leather-bound devotional book.

This pocket-sized prayer book dates back to 1685 and would’ve been referred to daily for guidance through inspirational prayers.

Its significance lies in the fact that it is one of only three pieces in the collection directly owned by the Fairfax family. From the inscription on the cover we can see it belonged to Mary Fairfax, which could refer to either Anne Fairfax’s elder sister, her mother or grandmother (all called Mary Fairfax).

However it is believed to have once been the property of Anne’s sister Mary as the book came to Fairfax House from Bar Convent. The two Fairfax girls attended school here in the mid-1730s and Mary’s name appears in the school records for 1735. She appears again the year after but this time the entry rather poignantly reads ‘Miss Fairfax dyed May 25th 1736.’ Mary was just 13 years old.

The Devotional is therefore a rare survival, as are the flower petals pressed within its pages, and no doubt would have played an important part in Mary’s Catholic education.


As you can see from the video above, the book is currently in a very poor state. Falling apart at the spine, the front and back cover is also completely detached. Professional attention is therefore needed to repair and restore it.

How you can help to restore the devotional?

If you would like to support this fundraising appeal, you can donate towards it’s restoration costs in the following ways:

  • Online Use the button below to donate securely via PayPal. (Please note donations are paid to our parent charity York Civic Trust)

  • By Post Cheques made payable to “Restoring the Devotional” can be sent to: Fairfax House, 27 Castlegate, York, YO1 9RN 
  • In Person Donations can be taken through our till point at the museum desk during opening hours.

We are extremely grateful for any contributions, no matter how large or small, towards conserving this important piece of Fairfax history.