Abingdon Abbey
Abingdon Abbey Gateway
  Notes in italics from Berkshire by Nikolaus Pevsner (1966)
Yale University Press, New Haven and London.
  Abingdon owes its existence to the abbey founded in 675. The town grew up in front of the abbey gates with its market place immediately outside the gatehouse ...In Domesday Book no town is yet mentioned - only 'ten traders before the gates'. The abbey extended along the Thames. So did the town, with the church at the far end. ... The prosperity of Abingdon was first that of the abbey, later of a flourishing woollen trade. There were bitter struggles between abbey and town throughout the Later Middle Ages.
The abbey church is gone but the gateway remains, flanked on the left by St Nicolas' Church and on the right by what used to be St John's Hospital but is now part of the Guildhall. Some domestic abbey buildings also remain along with a few architectural fragments of the church, see below.
Photo above taken from the roof of the County Hall.
  Click on photos to enlarge  
Abbey Gateway, Abingdon                   
  ABBEY GATEWAY. It is of the late C15 and has three archways, the southern one C19. The archways have depressed pointed arches with traceried spandrels. Above the middle arch a niche with an original statue of the Virgin. Two-light windows, battlements. Three bays of tierceron vaulting across the interior.  
  The E face of the gatehouse is similar to the other.
View within the gateway towards the  County Hall.
  E of the abbey gateway are the Abbey Gardens. It is here, a little to the E, that the church stood. Instead there are now in the gardens a number of salvaged architectural fragments: two window-heads, one late C13, the other Dec (early C14), an artificial ruin with ... arcades running N-S , piers and arches identical with those of St Helen, and large E and W window frames.
The ruin is in fact Trendell's Folly created in the 19th century when the gardens were private and belonged to a prosperous wine merchant, E J Trendell. The ancient stone may have come from St Helen rather than the abbey.
  Two gateways in the gardens.  
  The only consistent range of abbey buildings is a subsidiary one along the river, SE of the gateway and SW of the church. They consist from E to W of the Long Gallery, The Chequer, and then a lower range. (This is the sequence shown above). The LONG GALLERY dates from about 1500. It is partly of stone, partly timber-framed. It was originally divided into diverse rooms, and access to them was by a timber gallery or cloister walk, comparable to that of the Long Alley Amshouses ... (In the picture above, white blinds are pulled down over the timber gallery openings).
To the W of this range is the CHEQUER, a square C13 block of stone with buttresses ... The room above has a doorway with continuous mouldings and two Dec two-light windows. Tall chimney with a rare and interesting top, the most interesting of its date in England. The vents are three stepped little lancets in a gable. ...
W of the Chequer is a lower stone range and then a timber-framed gable on a stone base
(just out of the last picture) ... This range was probably the GRANARY.
  The opposite side of the Granary, facing the Thames.  
  History of the surviving buildings at the town council website


More Buildings of Abingdon
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