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Syon Monastery

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Syon Monastery, Middlesex, England, founded in 1415 by King Henry V at his manor of Isleworth. The "Monastery of St. Saviour and St. Bridget of Syon" was the only one in England belonging to the modified order of St. Augustine, as reformed by St. Bridget (see BRIGITTINES), and comprised thirteen priests, four deacons, and eight lay brethren, besides sixty nuns. The property extended for half a mile along the bank of the Thames, near Twickenham; and the chief duty of the community was to pray for the souls of the royal founder and his near relatives and for all the faithful departed. Martin V confirmed the foundation in 1418, and the first novices were professed in 1420. Six years later the Regent (John, Duke of Bedford) laid the first stone of the chapel ; endowments and benefactions rapidly flowed in, and towards the close of the century and a quarter which elapsed between its foundation and dissolution, the annual income of the monastery was estimated at 1730, equal in modern money to 100,000 dollars. The good observance of Syon was maintained to the last; and even Layton and Bedell, Henry VIII's servile commissioners, could find little or nothing to bring against the community. The inmates were nevertheless expelled in 1539, and the buildings seized by Henry, who imprisoned his fifth wife, Katherine Howard, in them for some months. The nuns retired to a house of their order in Flanders, but in 1557, on the accession of Queen Mary, they returned to Syon, and the greater part of their property was restored to them. At the queen's death, however, they were once more exiled, and after various wanderings in France and Spain settled in Lisbon, where they still own property. The Lisbon community returned to England in 1861, settling at Spettisbury, Dorsetshire (transferred to Chudleigh, Devon, in 1887). The Isleworth monastery was granted by James I to the ninth Earl of Northumberland, whose descendants still hold it. The present mansion is mostly the work of Inigo Jones, the ancient mulberry-trees in the garden being, it is said, the sole relic of the conventual domain.

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