Syon 600

This Thursday 23 July is the feast day of St Bridget of Sweden who founded the Bridgettine Order.

Its English house opened on the banks of the River Thames at Syon in 1415 thanks to Henry V who was about to leave for France and the Battle of Agincourt.

The site is now occupied by Syon House which is the London home of the Duke of Northumberland. The location of the vast abbey church has been outlined on the edge of the tide meadow visible from the towpwath and Kew Gardens.

The convent is unique for it was not dissolved when evicted by Henry VIII. Instead the community went abroad to Portugal until safer times. These came in 1861 when the abbey relocated to Devon where its dissolution only came in 2011. Three sisters survive living independently.

The 600th anniversary of the abbey’s foundation was marked on Sunday 19 July with an outdoor ecumenical service attended by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Duke of Northumberland and Bridgettine sisters from other houses.

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