Close up of a medieval manuscript

Syon at 600

The English monastic experience, 15th-21st centuries

Project organisers

Principal Investigator: Dr Eddie Jones

Co-Investigator: Professor Vincent Gillespie

Project overview

Syon Abbey is the only English religious house that can trace its history in an unbroken line from the Middle Ages to the present day. Henry V laid the foundation stone on 22 February 1415, and the Syon at 600 project is designed to mark the anniversary with an exploration of six hundred years of Syon history.

Syon was the last foundation of medieval England, and one of the richest. The abbey was not dissolved under Henry VIII. Instead, the community went into exile, living at a succession of sites in the Low Countries and France (as well as a short-lived restoration under Queen Mary) before settling in Lisbon (Portugal) in 1594. There they remained until the nineteenth century, when increased religious toleration allowed them to return to England. They stayed at several locations in South West England, before settling near South Brent in Devon. The Abbey finally closed in 2011, though the three surviving sisters continue its traditions in retirement.

The network is designed to bring together the scholars and to raise awareness of the resources that we will need to provide a definitive account of Syon's unique history.

Visit the dedicated website for 'Syon at 600' for more information about the project, and to read our project blog.

Image: Detail from Book of Hours in the Syon Abbey Medieval Manuscript Collection, EUL MS 262/2