From the Syon Park site
Described by Sir John Betjeman as 'the Grand Architectural Walk', Syon House and its 200
acre park is the London home of the Duke of Northumberland, whose family have lived here for
over 400 years.
Originally the site of a medieval abbey, Syon was named after Mount Zion in the Holy Land.
The abbey was dedicated to the Bridgettine Order, established in the 14th century by the
great Swedish mystic St Bridget.
One of the last great abbeys to be built (founded by King Henry V in 1415), Syon was
dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1539.
Syon Abbey had become renowned for its spiritual learning, public preaching and library. It
was favoured and visited by King Henry VIIIís first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
After the suppression of the abbey, the estate became Crown property and became the
possession of the 1st Duke of Somerset, the Lord Protector to the young son of King Henry
VIII, Edward VI.
He built Syon House in the Italian Renaissance style, over the foundations of the west end
of the huge abbey church, (which was the size of a cathedral), between 1547 and his death by
execution in 1552.
Syon was then acquired by a rival, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland (no relation to the
present family.) The Duke's son, Lord Guildford Dudley, had married Lady Jane Grey, the
great-granddaughter of King Henry VII and it was at Syon that she was formally offered the
Crown by the Duke. She accepted reluctantly, was conveyed to London by river and proclaimed
Queen. Nine days later, she was displaced by King Henry VIII's eldest daughter, Mary Tudor.
The following year Lady Jane Grey was executed.
In 1557, the Roman Catholic Queen Mary recalled the nuns to re-establish their abbey at
Syon. But she died suddenly in 1558 and the nuns left the country on the accession of her
Protestant sister, Queen Elizabeth I. (In 1861 the nuns returned to England to found their
religious community in Devon, where they reside to this day).
In 1594, Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, acquired Syon through his marriage to
Dorothy Devereux and the Percy family has lived at Syon House ever since.
The 9th Earlís youngest brother George Percy, was one of the original settlers who sailed to
Viginia and founded Jamestown in 1607. George played a significant role during the early
years of the settlement, acting as governor for a short period, when much hardship was
experienced. He returned to England in 1612.
The Percy family
Henry Percy, the 9th earl -
did he write Shakespeare?
George Percy - of Jamestown,
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