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Syon Abbey Collection

Syon Abbey Library Collection

The Syon Abbey Library Collection contains over 1000 printed books from the library of the Bridgettine nuns of Syon Abbey, dating from the late fifteenth century to the late twentieth century. The collection contains many Catholic hagiographic, devotional, polemical, and historical works, and is a remarkable testimony to the role of print in post-Reformation Catholic religious communities. The collection was deposited in the University Library in September 1990, through the intercession of Dr Marion Glasscoe, then of the School of English.

 

As well as containing numerous individual titles of interest, the collection as a whole is a rich source of study for ecclesiastical history; for the history of libraries and reading habits; and for its significance to researchers interested in the history of women's learning and reading. Numerous books in the collection bear manuscript annotations by the nuns, some with several pages of manuscript prayers and notes bound in with the text. Other books contain letters about their provenance. Some volumes in the Syon Abbey library collection predate the monastery's dissolution, but many of these early sixteenth-century titles will have been purchased at a later date and added to the collection. A study by Professor Vincent Gillespie does suggest, however, that at least one title, Reductori moralis libri quatuordecim by Pierre Bercheur (1521), has survived intact in the nuns' library since before the dissolution.

The collection is fully catalogued and the books are briefly described at item level on the Library Catalogue under the classmark Syon Abbey. The books can be consulted in the reading room by prior appointment. Please contact Special Collections at libspc@exeter.ac.uk for more information.

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