Since 1989, when the Syon community decided to relocate from Marley House itself to new accommodation created from a courtyard of former farm buildings on the estate, the nuns have been entrusting their manuscript and printed books to the keeping of the University of Exeter, where they are held in Special Collections. Further details may be found at: http://library.exeter. ac.uk/special.
In 1989–90, as part of the preparations for that move, the community's collection of printed books was catalogued by Marion Glasscoe and Claire Johnson. The books were arranged in sixteen classes, as follows: A Early books, B Bibles, C Liturgy, D Saints’ lives, E Theology, F History, G Swedish, H Fiction, J Poetry, K Drama, L Non-fiction, M Reference, N Marian literature, O Art, P Periodicals, R Children's literature. Among the materials associated with this catalogue is a file listing the books kept by each sister in her cell for personal use during the year 1989–90. The catalogue and its associated papers are now EUL MS 265.
In September 1990, more than 1,100 books printed before 1850 (classmark A in the classification described above) were deposited with the University. The earliest dated volume is a 1513 edition of Jerome's letters printed by Nicolaus de Benedictis at Lyon (Syon Abbey 1513/JER/X). All but a few of the books post-date Syon's exile, and they are a rich resource for the study of counter-reformation and later Catholic print culture. Many volumes, like the Borromeo testament noted in our introduction, have been inscribed or annotated, and in some cases supplemented with handwritten material, by their Bridgettine readers. These books are included in the Exeter University Library catalogue with the classmark Syon Abbey.
At the same time, the University received thirty-five notebooks containing the handwritten notes of John Rory Fletcher, whose work on Syon's history is discussed in the essay in this volume by Ann Hutchison. Some consist of lists and brief notes on Syon gathered from a wide range of published and unpublished sources; others are chapters of the detailed history of Syon that Fletcher wrote during the 1930s and 1940s, but which is available in print in the form only of the popular history he produced early in his work on the abbey in 1933, and in the partial serialisation published in the Poor Souls’ Friend from 1957 (see above pp. 247–8).