Syon at 600: New Website, Workshop Announcement

The AHRC-funded Syon at 600 project, run by Eddie Jones (principal investigator) and Vincent Gillespie (co-investigator), has an exciting new website:

The project’s second workshop, Syon in Lisbon, is appropriately based in Portugal and coming up soon: 20-22 April. If you are interested in participating please email Eddie Jones ( Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about Syon’s history, in the very convent buildings they inhabited in the beautiful medieval city of Lisbon, Portugal!

The project is also hosting a ‘Database of Researchers.’ Please enter your details in the online form in order to help develop a strong research network based on a wide range of scholars interested in Syon.

We are grateful to Eddie, and Vincent, for working on this important project for the sexcentenary year of Syon Abbey’s foundation!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Symposium Announcement: Syon to Agincourt: 1415 and Beyond

Syon to Agincourt: 1415 and Beyond

Saturday, 25 April 2015, Graduate School, University of Hull, UK

This Marvell symposium is the third in an integrated series recently organized under the auspices of the Andrew Marvell Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Hull. The aim of these specialist symposia, ‘Majesty: Constructing Royal Authority in Early Modern England’ (December, 2012); ‘New Directions in Medieval and Early Modern Studies’ (November, 2013); and ‘Syon to Agincourt: 1415 and Beyond’ (April, 2015) is to investigate particular topics from multi-disciplinary and different chronological perspectives that both reflect and complement the research interests of the members of the Centre.

The present symposium is focused on a seminal year in English history that saw — inter alia — the foundation of Syon Abbey in England, the condemnation of John Wyclif at the Council of Constance as a heretic, and the victory of Henry V at Agincourt. Such events had momentous consequences for the historic, religious, political, and literary development of the country — consequences that reverberated throughout English history. In intermingled ways these three events do much to reflect the feuding forces at work in England — and Europe — from the beginning of the fifteenth century onwards. In concentrating on the competing agendas of religious controversialists, the quest for military supremacy, and the development of royal reputation, this symposium aims to explore the different ways in which the country was shaped by such events.

Registration: £30 full fee; £20 for postgraduates

Booking: Please send the attached booking form, with a cheque for the relevant amount made payable to ‘The University of Hull’, to Dr Veronica O’Mara, Department of English, The University of Hull, Hull HU6 7 RX

Deadline: 9 March 2015 – please email regarding late registration


Saturday, 25 April 2015, Graduate School, University of Hull


9.45am–10am             Registration


Chair: Veronica O’Mara, University of Hull

Bridget Morris, York, ‘The Foundation of Syon in a European Perspective’

Eyal Poleg, Queen Mary, University of London, ‘1415: Constance, Syon, and the Nadir of English Book Production’

Sue Powell, Salford/York/London, ‘“Beleve stedfastly as Holi Chirch techeth”:  John Mirk and the Festial’

11.30am–12pm            Coffee

12pm–1pm                WAR AND REPUTATION

Chair: Lesley Coote, University of Hull

Gwilym Dodd, University of Nottingham, ‘Agincourt: England’s Hollow Victory’

Karen Watts, Royal Armouries, Leeds, ‘Agincourt: France’s Failed Tournament’

1pm–1.45pm              Luncheon


Chair: Amanda Capern, University of Hull

Sarah Peverley, University of Liverpool, ‘This noble prynce, pierlesse of regyment: Henry V and Agincourt in Hardyng’s Chronicle’

David Bagchi, University of Hull, ‘ “O Constance, be strong upon my side!” Contesting the Council in the Reformation’

Veronica O’Mara, University of Hull, ‘Syon Returns to Europe’

Janet Clare, University of Hull, ‘ “Then call we this the field of Agincourt”: Elizabethan Memory and Commemoration’

3.45pm–4.15pm   Tea

4.15pm–4.45pm   GENERAL DISCUSSION

Chair: Elisabeth Salter, University of Hull

Syon to Agincourt: 1415 and Beyond

Saturday, 25 April 2015

 The Symposium takes place at the Graduate School, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX

NAME ……………………………………………………………………………………

AFFILIATION  ………………………………………………………………………….

CONTACT ADDRESS  …………………………………………………………………


TEL NO  …………………………………………..  EMAIL …………………………..

REGISTRATION FEE (this includes morning coffee, luncheon, and afternoon tea)

Full price      £30                     □ tick

Postgraduate    £20                     □ tick


I/we require parking facilities YES/NO (please delete as appropriate)

SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS (for example, relating to a disability/specialist diet/other)


ACCOMMODATION (further information:

On campus University guest-houses (very limited availability so early booking is essential): 19–21 Salmon Grove, Hull, HU5 7RX (en-suite): single room: £39; double room (£61); twin room (£61); 3 Ferens Avenue, Hull HU6 7RX  (not en-suite): single room (£29); double room (£47; twin room (£47). Please book directly with the Accommodation Office on (01482) 466042 or

Mercure Royal Hotel Hull, 170 Ferensway, Hull, HU1 3UF (adjacent to the train and bus stations; nos 103, 105 come directly to the University; nos 15 and 115 stop at Cranbrook Avenue, a short walk from the main campus). Please book directly with the hotel on (01482) 325087 or via; for the University rate (below) cite ‘Syon to Agincourt Symposium/O’Mara’: single room (£50); twin room (£82); double room, with single occupancy (£72); double room for two people (£82).

Please return your completed form, together with a cheque for the registration fee made payable to ‘The University of Hull’, by 9 March 2015, to Dr Veronica O’Mara, Department of English, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Query regarding a “Mistress Daniel from Syon”

One of our members, Elizabeth Patton, has a query – if you can help, please email her at

Elizabeth writes:

“I am trying to find information about a “Mistress Daniel from Syon” whose name appears on a list of illegal Catholic imprints confiscated in the Marshalsea prison in about 1586.  She was to receive a copy of “resolutions” (later known as Persons’ Christian Directory), and the volume was to be provided “with clasps.”

I have not been able to track her name on WWTN; one possibility is that she was among the younger nuns, such as Elizabeth Sander, who were evacuated back to England because of the Calvinist threat in Mechlin, and she may have assumed an alias (or perhaps an alternate family name) while in England.

All thoughts are welcome.”

Elizabeth Patton
Senior Lecturer, Humanities Center
Director, Great Books at Hopkins (GB@H)
Johns Hopkins University

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Latest Birgitta Conference CFP: Devon, England, 21-24 July 2015

Eddie Jones and Claes Gejrot are happy to announce the CFP for the latest in the series of Birgitta conferences, this time on the topic of “Continuity and Change in the Birgittine Order.”

See the online CFP here, also pasted below:

Continuity and Change in the Birgittine Order

(Syon Abbey 1415-2015)

Dartington Hall, Devon, 21-24 July 2015

The Birgittine order, over its more than six centuries of existence, has seen many changes: periods of growth and decline, expansion and retrenchment, patronage and persecution; individual houses have been suppressed and restored, declined, revived, relocated, and finally closed; the Birgittine vine has put out new branches, some of which have taken, and some not. And all this against a backdrop of religious, political, and social upheaval and change, that has not always remained safely in the background.

Are there any constants? The office, perhaps, or the habit, the rule (or rules?!), the spirit of the saint herself … something intangibly, indefinably Birgittine? Is Birgittine identity about adherence to an essence or ideal, or something that is worked out in practice? Is the idea of charism useful, or an obstacle to historical analysis?

Such questions come into focus sharply this year, when England’s house of Birgittines, Syon Abbey, celebrates the six hundredth anniversary of its foundation by King Henry V in 1415. Those six centuries have seen dramatic fluctuations in fortune, and as many as twenty changes of abode, from the abbey’s medieval heyday by the Thames in Middlesex, through suppression under Henry VIII, restoration by Queen Mary, exile in the Low Countries and France, a two-hundred-year sojourn in Portugal, the return to south-west England, late twentieth-century downsizing, and closure of the convent in 2011. Rule and constitutions have been reinterpreted and rewritten; the office has been sung in Latin, abandoned for the Roman breviary, restored in Latin, and translated into English. The community has seen kingdoms rise and fall; lived through war, fire and earthquake, and responded to the councils of Konstanz, Trent and Vatican II.

The latest in the series of Birgitta conferences will take place at Dartington Hall in Devon, England, 21-24 July 2015. Proposals for papers of 20 minutes duration will be welcomed by the organisers Eddie Jones and  Claes Gejrot by the deadline of 15 January 2015. The language of the conference will be English. We are equally interested in proposals on Syon Abbey, other Birgittine houses, or the order as a whole. Papers need not engage directly with the question of ‘continuity and change’, though this will be an advantage if we are over-subscribed. Recognising that the period has so far been under-explored, we will be particularly pleased to hear proposals that look at Birgittine experience since 1800.


Registration for the conference will be available on this site soon.

Sexcentenary event at Syon Park, 19 July 2015 

We imagine that many delegates will also be interested in attending a commemoration of Syon’s foundation that is being held in the grounds of Syon Park, Isleworth, site of Syon Abbey from 1431 until the dissolution, on Sunday 19 July 2015. (For location, see Organisation of the event is being led by the church of St Bridget of Sweden and Our Lady of Sorrows, Isleworth. It will feature an ecumenical service led by the archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols. We are involved in preparations for the event, and will provide further details as they become available.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CFP on Syon for the Canadian Society of Medievalists 2015 Meeting

Stephanie Morley and Brandon Alakas send on the following CFP for the Canadian Society of Medievalists meeting, May 30-June 1, 2015. Complete details below.

Reflections on the Sexcentenary of Syon Abbey: Reading, Devotion and Reform

Founded in 1415 by Henry V, the Brigittine community at Syon Abbey had been since its inception a centre for orthodox reform. During the fifteenth century, Syon served as a model for other religious orders which sought a return to the stricter observance of previous centuries. By the time of the community’s expulsion in 1539, Syon had established its reputation as a prolific and vital source of vernacular devotional texts for religious and lay readers alike. Facilitating Syon’s promotion of orthodoxy, the Additions to the abbey’s rule press on the significance of books for the brothers and sisters of the order and underscore the intellectual and literary character of the institution. Recent scholarship has recognised Syon’s importance both as a source of continental spiritual writing and spirited Catholic reform, and as an early adopter of the printing press as a powerful tool for parochial instruction and the promotion of religious orthodoxy.

To mark the sexcentenary of Syon’s foundation, we invite abstracts for papers treating any aspect of the abbey’s participation in the devotional and literate culture of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Papers may examine individual texts and translations produced by the Syon brothers; consider the shaping of a readership, either religious or lay (or both), of vernacular theology; or survey the abbey’s participation, spiritually and politically, in the fraught years before the Act of Supremacy. Any and all disciplinary and methodological approaches are welcome in what we hope will be a valuable contribution to the myriad conversations about Syon Abbey during 2015.

The Canadian Society of Medievalists is an international inter-disciplinary society that holds its annual meeting every year at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, happening this year at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Canada, May 30-June 1, 2015.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to the co-organizers by December 15, 2015. Electronic submissions are preferred.

Dr Stephanie Morley
Department of English
Saint Mary’s University

Dr Brandon Alakas
Department of Fine Arts and Humanities
University of Alberta, Augustana

CFP pdf document: CSM CFP 2015 Reflections on the Sexcentenary of Syon Abbey.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Syon Abbey @ Syon House: A Workshop, 7-9 November 2014

Eddie Jones at the University of Exeter is pleased to announce the call of contributors for “Syon Abbey @ Syon House,” a special workshop to be held at Syon Park, 7-9 November 2014.  Please read the full call here

And copied below:

Syon Abbey turns 600 in 2015. We will be beginning our celebrations a little early, with a workshop to be held at Syon House, Syon Park, Isleworth, 7-9 November 2014. This is one of several events being held to mark the sexcentenary of Syon’s foundation. An academic conference will be held in association with the Swedish Birgittastiftelsen in Exeter in July 2015.

The principal focus for this initial workshop will be Syon Abbey from its late-medieval foundation to 1594, when the community’s post-dissolution wanderings ended with their arrival in Lisbon; 1594 was also (coincidentally) the year that their former home in Isleworth passed to its current owners, the Dukes of Northumberland, who built the present Syon House. Contributions on the transition from monastery to stately home will also be most welcome.

A highlight of the weekend will be the opportunity to ‘Walk about Sion, and go round about her : and tell the towers thereof’ in the company of our keynote speaker Harvey Sheldon, who directed the archaeological investigations here during the 2000s, and Topher Martyn, head gardener at Syon Park.

One of the main purposes of the workshop will be to identify themes, questions, sources – and, perhaps, contributors – for a new, multi-authored history of Syon, that I would like to see completed by 2020, the 600th anniversary of the first professions and the beginning of community life proper at the Abbey. Consequently, I am looking not so much for offers of formal research papers, but short reports (15-20 mins) on work in progress (especially from graduate students and other voices new to Syon studies); presentations on untapped or under-explored sources for understanding Syon’s history, or methodologies and disciplinary approaches that have not so far been in the mainstream of work on the Abbey (which has been dominated by historians and literary scholars, most of them medievalists); reviews of relevant historiography (medieval reform, the Dissolution, the Marian restorations, early recusancy, etc). The emphasis throughout will be on roundtable discussion in a seminar-style setting, and numbers may be limited accordingly.

Expressions of interest and offers to contribute to the workshop (a few sentences of outline/rationale for what you want to say, plus a brief biography) should be sent to Eddie Jones by 8 October.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Syon Abbey Sexcentenary Events

Here below is some information from E. A. Jones (University of Exeter) about upcoming events in 2015 in celebration of the 600th anniversary of Syon Abbey.


Syon at Six Hundred

The foundation stone of Syon Abbey was laid at Twickenham on 3 March 1415. This note is to alert you to two conferences dedicated to Syon’s sexcentenary. I will be organising them together with Vincent Gillespie (University of Oxford), Alexandra Walsham (University of Cambridge), and Carmen Mangion (Birkbeck University of London).

7-9 November 2014, Syon House, Syon Park, Brentford.

A weekend workshop held on the site of the medieval monastery. We will focus especially on medieval and reformation Syon, and the transformation of Syon Abbey into Syon House. (Coincidentally, the site passed to its present owner, the Duke of Northumberland, in 1594, the same year that the Syon community arrived in Lisbon.) There will be a chance to ‘Walk about Sion, and go round about her;  and tell the towers thereof’ (Ps. 48:11) in the company of Topher Martyn, head gardener at Syon Park, and Harvey Sheldon (Birkbeck University of London), who directed the archaeological investigation of the site in the 2000s.

22-25 July 2015, University of Exeter.

We will join forces with the Birgittastiftelsen (Birgitta Foundation) for their 2015 Conference, which will include a special focus on Syon during its centenary year. The University of Exeter now holds many resources for the study of Syon Abbey, including the medieval manuscripts and fragments, the early modern books, and the extensive archive. One of our aims is to highlight the potential of these materials for understanding the last 200 years of Syon’s history – a period that to date scholarship has barely touched. The conference will include a formal celebration of the sexcentenary on the feast of St Bridget, 23 July 2015, at which we hope to be joined by Sister Anne (as I am still learning to call the Abbess!).

We would like these events to launch a new phase of Syon studies that will culminate in a new, collaborative history of the community from its foundation until the present day. 

Further details of all these plans and events, and calls for papers, will appear on the Society’s webpages and elsewhere over the coming months.

Eddie Jones, University of Exeter

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kalamazoo 2015 CFP: “Multidisciplinary Saint Bridget: In Honor of Syon Abbey’s 600th Anniversary”

At the International Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo, Michigan, in May 2015, the Syon Abbey Society is happy to be co-sponsoring a panel with the Hagiography Society. Read the description below, and please submit an abstract!

Multidisciplinary Saint Bridget: In Honor of Syon Abbey’s 600th Anniversary

This year, the Syon Abbey Society and the Hagiography Society are teaming up to offer a multidisciplinary panel devoted to Saint Birgitta of Sweden (c. 1303-1373), or Saint Bridget as she was known in England. Bridget became famous during her lifetime for her divine visions, her campaigns to bring the papacy back to Rome, her political activism, and her foundation of the Order of St. Saviour (or the Bridgettine Order as it is often called). The only British Bridgettine house, Syon Abbey, was founded in 1415 and flourished alongside the growing devotional cult surrounding Bridget and her texts in England. Syon Abbey is now recognized as one of the most vibrant literary and cultural monastic centers of late medieval England, and this panel will be one of several events in the US and UK to mark the sexcentenary of its foundation.

We invite abstracts for papers exploring any aspect of Saint Bridget and her cult in England or the Continent. Papers addressing connections to Syon’s sisters, brothers, texts, history, or influence are welcome but not required. We hope to form a panel that reflects a variety of disciplinary standpoints: e.g., music, liturgy, art, iconography, architecture, theology, textuality, manuscripts, textual transmission, early print, monasticism, gender issues, socio-politico-economic contexts.

Please email short abstracts to Laura Saetveit Miles, University of Bergen ( by September 15.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Second Conference on Birgittine Liturgy: Vadstena, Sweden, 2-3 October 2014

Posted on behalf of Karin Strinnholm Lagergren, Almire Foundation / Linneaus University. 

For full information, please see this PDF link: Cfp Birgittine Conference

Second Conference on Birgittine Liturgy: Vadstena, Sweden, 2-3 October 2014

Birgittine liturgy image

This conference is devoted to the liturgy in the order of St Birgitta of Sweden in its most multidisciplinary sense. The first conference was held in December 2013 at the National Archives in Stockholm. This year it will take place 2-3 October in Vadstena in the Sancta Birgitta Convent Museum ( and expand from a national to an international conference.

Keynote address will be given by Dr. Hilkka-Liisa Vuori (Sibelius Academy, FI): “The Great Responsories of Cantus sororum – their background and a modal atmosphere”

A specialist on Birgittine chant, Vuori defended a doctoral thesis entitled Neitsyt Marian yrttitarhassa. Birgitta- laissisarten matutinumin suuretresponsoriot (In the Herb Gardens of Oure Ladye. The Great Responsories of Matins in Bridgettine Sisters’ Liturgy of Hours) in 2011.

A special session will be devoted to The Birgittine Church in the Middle Ages. The invited speakers for this session include:

Dr. Hans Krongaard Kristensen (archeology, Aarhus University, DK) Dr. Volker Schier, (musicology, Arizona State University, US)
Dr. Corine Schleif, (art history, Arizona State University, US)
Dr. Per Ström, (theology, Uppsala University, SE)

The session will take place in the abbey church (since the reformation the Lutheran parish church) on Thursday 2 October between 13-16. The speakers, with their particular speciality, will discuss the liturgical use of the Birgittine abbey church followed by a discussion with the audience. This session is also open to the public.


Please register by 1 September by sending an email to Karin Strinnholm Lagergren:

The conference will begin at noon on 2 October and end with a closing concert on the evening of 3 October (see below).

The conference (including coffee and conference dinner on Thursday 2 October) is free of charge but the participants pay their own travel and accommodation.

Accommodation can be booked at Vadstena Folkhögskola ( next to the ab- bey church and museum. A single room is 550 SEK and a double room 900 SEK, breakfast included. The rooms can be booked at the following address: Lunch on Thursday and Friday can be booked at 79 SEK/lunch.

Other alternatives for accommodation are: The guesthouse of the Birgittine sisters:

Vadstena klosterhotell:

Dahlströmska gården bed and breakfast:

Concert 3 October: Salve sancta parens anno 1728 with ensemble Gemma

The conference will close on the evening of 3 October in the chapter room in the Convent Museum. Ensemble Gemma will then give a concert with the Birgittine sister’s daily mass Salve sancta parens. The music comes from a manuscript written in 1728 in the Dutch Birgittine abbey Maria Refugie (see image above). Entrance fee is 100 SEK and the concert is open to the public.

This conference takes place within of the postdoctoral research project The Transmission of the Cantus Sororum in the Low Countries and is organised by musicologist Dr. Karin Strinnholm Lagergren in collaboration with the Catholic University Leuven (BE), the Linneaus University (SE), Alamire Foundation (BE), Sancta Birgitta Convent Museum, Svenska kyrkan, Vadstena och Dals församlingar. The conference is financed by the Swedish Research Council/Vetenskapsrådet and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond – The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Help needed: Editing Thomas Betson’s Herbal

[Posted on behalf of John Adams]

Syon Abbey Herbal, AD 1516: The Last Monastic Herbal in England: Middle English and Mediaeval Latin proof-readers required

Members of the Syon Abbey Research Associates in London have been working for the past two years on the Herbal section in Latin and Middle English of Thomas Betson’s notebook (MS E6, St John’s College Library, Cambridge), with a view to publication later this year. This is the last surviving monastic herbal compiled in England before the Dissolution in 1539. Betson was responsible for the catalogue of the famous library at Syon.

They are looking for researchers with Middle English and/or Mediaeval Latin skills to correct their text and supply the gaps. Betson’s handwriting is at times perplexing, so some palaeographic experience would also be necessary. The transcription is about 95% complete and they also have the original text in digital images, allowing for easy comparison.

They are hoping to split the text between a Mediaeval Latinist and a ME expert, to expedite the work – the two sections seem to be independent. This might perhaps appeal to a PhD student researching Herbals.

They would of course be happy to include an attribution when they finally go to print, in time for the 600th anniversary of the founding of Syon in 2015.

Comments and corrections are needed by around Easter this year – say end April.

For further information contact John Adams, Syon Abbey Research Associates


T: 00  44 (0)208 645 0405

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment