RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 262/add3
Alt Ref NoEUL MS 389/4121; EUL MS 389/4122; EUL MS 389/4123
Date1526-18th century
LevelSection
Extent3 volumes (1 box)
TitleSyon Abbey modern manuscripts and rare books, Addition 3
DescriptionThis section comprises two rare printed books and one manuscript, which were all written by brothers of Syon Abbey. The three volumes were stored together in the safe at Syon Abbey in South Brent, along with archival documents of historical value to the community, including vows and profession papers. They were deposited at the University as part of the Syon Abbey archive in 2011 and transferred from the archive to sit with the manuscript collection in January 2018.

They include:

EUL MS 262/add3/1 - Printed book entitled 'The pype, or tonne, of the lyfe of perfection' (Pipe of Perfection) by Richard Whitford (1532);

EUL MS 262/add3/2 - Printed book entitled 'Here begynneth the Rosary of our Sauyour [Saviour] Jesu...' by William Bonde, first edition in late 18th or early 19th century morocco binding (1526);

EUL MS 262/add3/3 - Manuscript volume entitled 'The Life of St. Bridget and St. Catherine' and transcribed by an unknown brother of Syon Abbey (possibly the same hand as EUL MS 262/18, c 17th century).
Admin HistorySyon Abbey was a monastic house of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, also known as the Bridgettine Order. The house was founded directly from the Mother House in Vadstena in Sweden in 1415, and the community followed the Rule of St Bridget of Sweden. This enclosed Bridgettine community - comprising both monks and nuns and governed by an abbess - was renowned for its dedication to reading, meditation and contemplation. In addition, it was unusual in being the only English Catholic community of religious to have continued existing without interruption through the Reformation period. In the wake of Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, the community dispersed into smaller groups in which they continued their religious practice, with some remaining in England whilst others sought refuge abroad. Syon Abbey was restored for a short period in England under the Catholic rule of Mary I; however, following the accession of Elizabeth I and the return to Protestantism, the community went into exile. The community spent over half a century migrating through the Low Countries (Antwerp, Dendermonde, Haamstede, Mishagen, Mechelen) and France (Rouen), before eventually finding a new home in Lisbon, Portugal in 1594. In Lisbon, the community survived a convent fire in 1651 and the Lisbon Earthquake in 1755, but both events presumably resulted in the loss of many of Syon's early records. The last brother of Syon Abbey died in 1695. In 1809, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the community - with the exception of three sisters, who remained in Lisbon - attempted a return to England; however, by 1815, they were struggling financially, and eventually they relinquished many of their ancient treasures to the Earl of Shrewsbury in exchange for financial support (many of these treasures were auctioned at the The Great Sale of 1857 at Alton Towers). One sister returned to the community in Lisbon, whilst the last of the nuns in England died in 1837. Following the arrival of new postulants in the early nineteenth century, the community in Lisbon recovered and regained its strength. In 1861, amid rising religious tensions in Portugal, the community successfully returned to England, where they initially resided in Spetisbury, Dorset. Following a further relocation to Chudleigh, Devon, in 1887, the community finally settled in South Brent, Devon, in 1925. On account of dwindling numbers and the age of the remaining nuns, the decision was made to close Syon Abbey in 2011. In the same year, the archive was transferred to the University of Exeter, where it joined other previously deposited collections relating to Syon Abbey, including printed books and manuscripts from the Syon Abbey library. The community attracts considerable research interests throughout the world.
LanguageEnglish
Access StatusOpen
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