Where will you find some of the archives of the early modern convents in exile?




The archival situation for the English convents is complex. Some are held on the Continent, in diocesan and archdiocesan archives (mostly in Flanders) or in state archives, mostly in France (archives départementales, archives nationales). Others have traveled back to England with the surviving communities and have moved with the nuns to their various dwellings. Over recent years, several communities have closed down to to dwindling numbers and their archives are in the process of being centralised and catalogued, often at Douai Abbey.  The situation is therefore in a state of ongoing flux.




Augustinian Canonesses: A large number of the Mss from the Louvain house are now held at Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton. From the Paris convent, some documents are housed at Westminster, and at Downside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse.

Benedictines: The Mss documents relating to the history of the English Benedictine nuns in exile are scattered around several depositories. The Brussels Mss are held in great part at the Archdiocesan Archives of Mechelen (Belgium); Cambrai Mss are found mostly at the Archives Départementales du Nord, Lille (France); some of the Ghent Mss can be found at the Archdiocesan Archive at Ghent; the Paris Mss are held in the beautiful library at Colwich Abbey, Stafford; some of the Pontoise documents are held at the Archives Départementals du Val D’oise, at Vergy. Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton, also has much Benedictine material. Additional material is kept in various locations. For more details, click here.

Bridgettines: The Bridgettine documents are mostly kept at the University of Exeter, Special Collections, where they have very recently been catalogued by Annie Price; for more details, see these links: and

Carmelites: Most of the Carmelite documents have been transferred into the care of Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton; copies are available at the Royal Archies of Belgium; the Mss relating to the Hoogstraten house are held at the Baltimore Carmel. 

Dominicans: Some of the Dominican papers are currently held at Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton.

Poor Clares: Some key Mss are held with the Much Birch community. There is also a large collection held at Durham University, Special Collections. The library also has a large number of the Poor Clare printed books; for more details, click here.  

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