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Introduction

Vow of profession of Sister Mary Paul [Elizabeth] Hardstaff Stafford (detail)

In the course of Syon Abbey's 596 years of existence, hundreds of women entered the monastery. Each of these women contributed to the continuation of Syon Abbey's tradition and their lives are woven into the fabric of the community's history.

Although Syon Abbey is no longer active, the community’s archive, manuscripts and printed books remain together and are now housed at the University of Exeter Special Collections. Collectively they form an invaluable resource through which to delve into Syon Abbey's history.

This exhibition focuses on one particular Syon nun - Sister Catherine 'Kitty' Witham - and what an exploration of the monastery's archive, manuscripts and books can reveal about her.