Filed under: heritage

Guildhall Open Weekend

The Guildhall reopened today after a major refurbishment. There were guided tours, or you could look round on your own and read the information sheets left in each room. A lot of people were taking the opportunity to visit, and it all looked fresh and interesting.
Guildhall Open Weekend
Coffee was being served in the Roysse Room. Quite a few people said they remembered coming to a wedding there. The  yellow ceiling with ornate white stucco, and white walls make this a bright room.

To show that it was once a schoolroom there was Greek on the balcony, and a birch rod in a case at the far end, donated by Old Abingdonian scholars.
Guildhall Open Weekend
The new lift between the entrance and Magistrates Court worked well, but did need somebody to help open and close the lift gates and so does not seem to allow for full independence.
Guildhall Open Weekend
The Magistrates Court looked fresh and tidy, and smelled of furniture polish. There was the sound of creaking floorboards from the room above. A table was in the centre so this, like two of the other rooms, was being shown as a meeting room. There was some talk of it being an exhibition space, also of audio visual equipment. I expect it will be multi-purpose.
Guildhall Open Weekend
Upstairs, beyond any wheelchair access, the Bear Room had a shine on the table reflecting the grand window onto Bridge Street. There were paintings round the walls donated by Arthur Preston, the local historian and Alderman who was involved when the Guildhall was refurbished a century ago. He had documented things such as a hidden spiral staircase that came as such a surprise this time round, and appeared in the Herald.
Guildhall Open Weekend
The council chamber, in two shades of green, had tables with cloths and floral decorations. The grand paintings were of Kings, and a Queen, and famous men with Abingdon connections. There was also a painting of Saint Sebastian being martyred.
Guildhall Open Weekend
The Abbey Room, over the Abbey Gateway, had also been decorated with paintings, including one of John Creemer Clarke.

The connecting room and toilets were very modern looking in comparison.

Somebody said to me ‘All the rooms looked good. Something Abingdon can be proud of.’ Another person said ‘The room hire rates are reasonable‘. Another person said ‘A signal day for Abingdon‘. I would add that the information and tours were well organised.

I only heard one complaint and that is that the Tourist Information is not in the Guildhall yet. There is no clear direction for tourists in Abingdon to go to the museum where it is housed.

5 Comments February 16, 2019

St Edmund’s Chapel

St Edmund's Chapel
I am away from Abingdon for a couple of days but have found something of Abingdon interest in the form of an old leaflet, dated 1990, from a charity shop in Cumbria. It is a 20p Visitors Guide to St Edmund’s Chapel, Dover.

The small chapel, build in 1252-3, somehow survived the centuries before being restored between 1966 and 1968. In 1544 St Edmund’s Chapel and other nearby properties were surrendered to King Henry VIII and it stopped being used as a chapel. Other buildings were built about it and it got forgotten, until its significance was rediscovered in 1883. During WWII two shops that hid it from view were destroyed during a bombardment but the chapel building survived. It even survived the 1960s redevelopment of the area thanks to the efforts of a local priest.

The chapel website has a lot of detail about the chapel dedicated to St Edmund of Abingdon, far more than the leaflet.

There was also a chapel dedicated to St Edmund of Abingdon, near St Edmund’s Lane in Abingdon, but all record of that has vanished.

19 Comments February 7, 2019

Abingdon 100 years ago

Abingdon - 100 years ago
Thanks to the Faringdon Advertiser and Vale of the White Horse Gazette for the following news from Abingdon 100 years ago in February 1919. ( © Successor rightsholder unknown. All Rights Reserved.)

1st Feb 1919
The Abingdon Prisoners’ of War Committee entertained the local returned prisoners of war and their friends at the Abingdon Corn Exchange, on Thursday evening last. The hall was gaily decorated with flags, and mottoes. The festivities included a substantial meat tea, followed by an excellent entertainment. The caterer was Mr Hathaway, who provided a large iced cake inscribed ‘Welcome to Home Sweet Home.’ The number of men entertained was nearly 50, and each was asked to bring a friend.

8th Feb 1919
Abingdon - 100 years ago
The North Oxford concert party gave an entertainment in the Abingdon Corn Exchange, on Thursday last, in aid of St. Dunstan’s Hostel for the Blind. The programme was an excellent one, but there was a limited audience.

Abingdon Philanthropic Society has just issued the balance sheet for the past year, which shows that with £31 1s 2d. brought forward from last year, £7 8s 10d. from interest and investments, and £37 11s 6d. donations and subscriptions, the total receipts were £76 1s 6d. Grants to applicants were £l6. £20 was placed to deposit account, and the expenses were 8s 4d. This allowed the sum of £30 to be carried forward. The report of the past year stated in reference the grants applicants that it is obvious that the continued high rate of wages and army pay the Society’s mission of relieving cases of distress amongst the industrious and meritorious poor has been somewhat limited, but heavy claims on the Society’s funds are anticipated on the return of more normal times.

The Milton Red Cross Hospital is about to be closed for renovation but if military necessities prevail after the work is completed Mr and Mrs Mortimer Singer will again give up this beautiful residence in continuance of hospital work, but otherwise intend occupying themselves.

The Nag’s Head public house on the Abingdon Bridge, which has been closed for some considerable time, and belonging to the Governors of Christ Hospital, had its license opposed by the Captain of the Salvation Army at Abingdon, Mr Dowse. The Abingdon County Bench renewed the license.

15th Feb 2018

The annual meeting of the Abingdon Fire Brigade was held last week at the Fire Station, Mr W. M. Coxeter, Chief Officer, presiding. The balance sheet, produced and adopted, showed that with £73 5s 1d brought forward, the annual subscription of the Abingdon Corporation of ten guineas, and sums from insurance companies, etc. gave the total receipts of £103 0s 4d. The expenditure was £16 13s 3d, leaving a balance of £86 8s 1d. The report mentioned that the Brigade had four calls during the year, one of which was outside the town. The staff was three officers and ten firemen, with two others serving in the Army.

An inquest was held at the Abingdon Union on Monday, before Mr Coroner, on the death of John Lamer, an inmate. It appeared from the evidence that another inmate found the deceased on the lavatory floor on Sunday morning dead. Deceased, who walked with crutches, had slipped up and thereby hurt his head.
Abingdon - 100 years ago
At the County Bench in Abingdon the following school attendance cases were heard :- Robert Lardner, Botley, was fined 5s in respect of his daughter. Charles Lewington, Hinksey, was summoned in respect of his three children. P.C. Martin said when he delivered the summons the defendant said’he kept the children at home because he had pawned their clothes to get food. The case was adjourned for a month.

Sgt. Harry Parker, son of Mrs Parker, West St. Helen Street, was named in Sir Douglas Haigs despatch of December 28th as worthy special mention during an engagement on that date. Pte. George Sparrow, son of Mrs Sparrow, 159, Ock Street, Abingdon, has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery shown on August 24th in engagement near Boiselle. The medal of O.B.E. has been conferred on Mr Albert Trinder, a postmaster, son of Mr Alfred Trinder, 198, Ock Street, Abingdon, for courageous conduct during a fire which broke out in a military camp shed in which live bombs were stored.
22nd Feb 1919

Pte. Fred Buckle, Royal Berks, son of Mr and Mrs Benjamin Buckle, of West St. Helen’s Street, Abingdon, is reported to have died whilst a prisoner of war in Germany. The number of Abingdon men and lads who have lost their lives during the war is considerable, 23 whose homes were in one street alone – West St. Helens Street, and six of those from one small court.

The Abingdon Cottage Hospital report for the past year, just issued, states that the sum of £500 was received under the will of the late Miss Hyde, formerly of Abingdon, which has been invested in war loans. Alexandra Days, Abingdon in 1917-8 brought in £40 and £72 respectively. Another bequest falls to the hospital under the will of the late Miss Hutching, of Harwell. The in-patients during the year were 74, 18 of which were accidents. The total receipts from bequests, offertories, donations, etc., with £33 brought forward, amounted to £1,186 1s. 6d., and the expenditure £590 10s.

Abingdon - 100 years ago
The funeral of one of the victims of the sinking of H M.S Penarth, which hit a mine off the Yorkshire coast, took place at Abingdon Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon of last week. The deceased was Thomas George Taylor, officer’s servant, son of Mr and Mrs James Taylor, West St Helen Street, and had been in the Navy three years. There were several floral tributes and deceased was carried to the grave by sailor lads, the coffin being covered with the Union Jack. Several returned prisoners of war, and other sailors and soldiers on furlough attended the funeral service, and the Last Post was sounded by a bugler.

 At the Abingdon Borough Police Court on Tuesday, three Abingdon lads were summoned for letting off fireworks in the public streets, on Saturday evening last. Defendants pleaded guilty, and were dismissed with a caution.

The Abingdon Horticultural Society have decided to hold the Abingdon Flower Show this summer, which was discontinued during the war. It is however, this year to on a modified scale in comparison with pre-war shows, and August 21st is the suggested date.

Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive for the stories and the Dunstan’s Cigarette advert and Abingdon hat images. The Berkshire school attendance medal is being sold on Ebay. The gravestone is on Wikipedia.

13 Comments February 6, 2019

Aerial picture of Abingdon in the 1960s

Aerial picture
Thankyou to Malcolm for this aerial picture which expands the maps I showed a couple of days ago – on Abbey Close. The top wing of the de Havilland Dragon Rapide from which the picture was taken can just be seen in the right hand corner.
Aerial picture
The railway station can be seen bottom right, the rolling stock are flat bed trucks which were used to transport MG cars.
Aerial picture
The pens of the cattle market can be seen in the area above that, together with St Nicolas Church hall.

6 Comments January 19, 2019

Morland’s Stories Wanted

Morland Stories Wanted
Bob Frampton is planning a new local history book and would like to get stories from people who worked at, or knew about, the Morland’s Brewery. His details are on the poster above which he has also put round town.
Morland Stories Wanted
Bill Mellor, the head brewer, gave us a very interesting talk about the operation of the brewery a couple of years ago – on Heritage Open Day. The only pictures I ever took were from outside the brewery, so I have attached both.
Morland Stories Wanted
I remember the smell like soggy cornflakes on the days Morland brewed. Somebody has shared an interesting picture, inside the brewery, on the Spotted Abingdon and Surrounding Area Facebook page a day or so ago. In the comments somebody said it smelt like heated Weetabix and another person Ovaltine.

4 Comments January 19, 2019

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