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The Syon Abbey Medieval and Modern Manuscript Collection

This collection comprises almost 200 manuscripts, which date from the early fifteenth century to the late twentieth century. They include lliturgical, devotional and theological texts, as well as histories of Syon Abbey, personal accounts of the lives of sisters, and catalogues of the Syon Abbey library. Many of the manuscripts are inscribed with the names of the sisters and brothers who transcribed or read them, providing insight into scribing and readership at Syon Abbey.


Folio from the medieval manuscript 'Horae'

Several of the medieval manuscripts in this collection are known to have formed part of the pre-Dissolution library at Syon Abbey. These items, along with other ancient treasures, may have been relinquished to the Earl of Shrewsbury in the early nineteenth century in exchange for financial support, and are thought to have been sold at auction after his death. The community was able to trace and reacquire several of its medieval manuscripts in the twentieth century. Other medieval manuscripts in the collection have connections to Bridgettine monasteries in Europe that no longer exist today. 

Manuscripts dating between the late-sixteenth century and the mid-nineteenth century were presumably created or collected by the community during its period in exile in Lisbon, Portugal. The collection also includes manuscripts created after the community's return to England in 1861.

The manuscripts in this collection have all been catalogued, and each has a unique reference number. You can find descriptions of each item in the online archives catalogue.