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Ref No EUL MS 262
Repository Special Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Date 15th century-17th century
Title Syon Abbey medieval and modern manuscript collection
Extent 181 volumes, 1 file
Creator Name Unknown
Admin History The community of Bridgettine nuns were based at Syon Abbey South Brent, Devon until 2012. The community was unusual in being able to trace an unbroken tradition reaching back to their Abbey's foundation in 1415. The Bridgettine Order was founded in the second half of the fourteenth-century by a Swedish noblewoman who was canonised in 1391 and known as St Bridget of Sweden. This contemplative order was to accommodate both men and women. The order founded at Syon Abbey in 1415 became a major focal point of religious activity in the sixteenth-century and was well-known for its publication of religious literature. A surviving set of rules for Syon Abbey explicitly emphasises the importance of books and instructs the sisters in their proper care. Both the nuns and the monks had their own libraries but, whilst there is an extant catalogue of the brothers' medieval library, no catalogue of the nuns' medieval library has survived and little is known about what physically happened to either of the libraries following the Abbey's suppression in 1539.

The nuns did not disperse immediately and the re-establishment of Syon by Cardinal Pole was confirmed in 1557 during the reign of Mary. However, in May 1559 Parliament decreed the dissolution of the re-established monasteries and the nuns went into exile. The community then continued to exist in Flanders, France, and Portugal until its return to England in two groups, one in 1809 and the other in 1861, and settled in 1925 at Marley, South Brent, Devon until 2012 when the nuns left, effectively ending the community. Marion Glasscoe, who co-ordinated the transfer of the Syon book collections to Exeter University Library, has recorded that the sisters took a small core of surviving books with them when they first went into exile and she argues that the nuns continued to build up their library while abroad and that they brought all those volumes which survived a convent fire (Lisbon 1651) back to England on their return in the nineteenth-century. The community attracts considerable research interests throughout the world.
Description This collection contains twelve complete liturgical and theological manuscripts, dating between the 15th and 17th centuries. Some of these are listed in Ker and de Hamel' (see 'Publication note' below).

The following items are contained:
262/1 Processionale, 16th century;
262/2 Horae, 15th century
262/3 Brevarium, 15th century;
262/4 Horae, c 1424;
262/5 Horae, 15th c.;
262/6 Brevarium, 15th century;
262/7 Sermo de Sancta Anna et alia, 15th century;
262/8 Missale Hollandicum, 16th century;
262/9 Officium parvum Beate Mariae, 15th century;
262/10 Breviary, 17th century;
262/11 Antiphonale, 17th century;
262/18 A looking glace for the religious spiritual study of contemplation, 16th century or 17th century.

262/fragments 1-8. The collection also contains fragments of parchment sheets (some with water, fire and pest damage) which have also been collected by the Abbey. Some of these are illuminated and are attributed to have formed part of the pre-Dissolution Abbey library. Some of these are listed by de Hamel.

In addition a group of 180 manuscripts dating from the 16th century to the 20th century. These are arranged in two sequences.
The first numbered EUL MS 262 add. 1 mss 1-157 and the second numbered EUL MS 262 add. 2 mss 1-24.
They include extracts of saints lives, ceremonial, history, Divine Office, rules and constitutions, prayers, obituary, catalogues and spiritual notebooks. these are numbered

262/add. 1 mss 1-157 see rough handlist and 262/add. 2 mss 1-24 - ask at Special Collections for bound register.
Arrangement Retained in the order as used at Syon Abbey.
Access Conditions Usual EUL arrangements apply.
Copyright
Language Latin, English, Dutch, French
Finding Aids Listed. A handlist is available. See also Note.

 

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