Category Archives: Abbey Grounds

News and Views from the Abbey Gardens

In March, permission was given to develop Old Abbey House as a 27 bedroom hotel. It was previously used as offices for the town council. A separate new-build cafe had been removed from the plans as it would have involved cutting down trees.

The Edible Abingdon beds in the Abbey Gardens will have raised beds added this Spring.

The information notice board, removed over the winter, has been reinstated.

It’s red tulip time in the formal flower beds during April. They are starting to lose their petals.

The blossoms of the Horse Chestnut trees now stand above the new leaves. They are seen here behind the folly in the Abbey Gardens.

A riddle about Abingdon Abbey

Twenty hides – a gift from Cissa – by gravel terrace three rivers meet – two swans rise. You may like to close your eyes to see if you guess the answer first but this is what I think …

This was the land Cissa, a Saxon King, granted to his nephew to found a monastery. Abingdon sits on a gravel terrace, and the three rivers that meets here are the Stert, Ock and Thames. There are two swans rising on the town’s coat of arms. The Abbott of Abingdon Abbey may have been entitled to keep swans on the river – usually a royal prerogative.

A little further on from the stone riddle at Neave Mews is a sculpture – an A shape, and on one side are the bronze faces of Hean and Cilla.

In the Historia Ecclesie Abbenonensis (The History of the Church of Abingdon) are Charters from which the earliest origins of Abingdon Abbey can be traced. A charter in the year 675  granted land by Cissa to Hean (or Haeha) to build a monastery. It does not look like a lot happened at first. King Cissa was followed by King Caedwalla who in another charter gave back to Hean the land which King Cissa had once given to him (for a monastery) and to Cilla his sister (for a nunnery). Then a bit later the next King Ine took away the land and then it back to Hean  again to build a monastery.  So I am not sure what took Hean so long. One legend, told by Mieneke Cox (The Story of Abingdon part one), says Hean started building the monastery  near Boars Hill and then it kept falling down, and he was told by a hermit it was in the wrong place and was directed to build it down where Abingdon is now.

So he could have built his first monastery in the Abbey Grounds around 699, having delayed for  24 years for whatever reason. I don’t think anybody has ever found any physical evidence of that first Saxon monastery.

Open Air Pool is not open yet

Thankyou to Daniel for this view of Abingdon’s Abbey Meadow open air pool.

The L-shaped pool had a £1.3 million refurbishment and was back open in 2018 and 2019 and very popular.

Like other open air pools it did not open in 2020.

The White Horse Leisure & Tennis Centre is open, as is the Hinksey open air pool, in Oxford, but the opening date for the Abbey Meadow pool is yet to be announced.

So we are trying to be patient.

Meanwhile the play area is open and very popular and people have been using the space of the park.

There has also been a litter bug detective trail.