Category Archives: heritage

St Helens from the air. The gospel writers from the ground


Daniel has taken some pictures over the St Helens area of Abingdon during this sunny spell at the start of the school holidays. They include some with the cockerel weather vane and lightening rod on top of the steeple.

Daniel’s video, with the pictures, is on youtube.

From down below I took pictures of the four gospel writers on the porch of St Helen’s Church.

Matthew as an angel

Mark as a lion,

Luke as an Ox

and John as an eagle.

Abingdon 100 years ago – July 1921


2nd July

An Abingdon angler last week caught a barbel weighing 9 lbs., whilst fishing from Abingdon Bridge.

An accident befell Ruby Chapman, aged 6 years (daughter of T. Chapman, Spring Road. Abingdon). Whilst playing near the Ock Bridge, she fell from the parapet and sustained a fractured leg and was taken to the Abingdon Cottage Hospital.

The High Sheriff of Berks (Sir Mortimer Singer) and Lady Singer gave a brilliant garden party at their mansion residence on Milton Hill, on Thursday last. Over 250 accepted invitations. Van Lier’s famous band gave delightful music, and Mlle. Lunina and Michel gave exhibitions of modern dances.

Alderman Arthur Preston has been elected to the Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries.

Alexandra Day was this year celebrated on Saturday last at Abingdon. A representative Committee arranged numerous competitions, children’s balloon processions, stalls, etc., and the day’s proceedings concluded by a popular concert in the Corn Exchange. The Abingdon Town Band gave selections in the afternoon and evening.

Early on Sunday morning last, during a heavy thunderstorm, the lightning struck the Club House on the Frilford Heath Golf Links, and the building was briefly destroyed, with its contents. The damage is estimated to run into four figures. The whole building was burnt down in less than an hour. The Fire Brigade could not be summoned in time to be of use, as the wires would not act.


9th July

The only case at this Court on Tuesday last was that of Edward Emerton, of the Abbey, Abingdon. for cycling without lights in the Vineyard, he and was fined 5s.

The Vicar of Abingdon, (Rev. A. H. Kennedy) has so far recovered from his illness to be able to help in the services during this month.

The Boy Scout movement has been resuscitated, and F. Duncan has been elected Hon. Scoutmaster, and Mr J. E. Gibbens as Scoutmaster.

A motor accident occurred on the Oxford Road, Abingdon, on Thursday evening in last week, when a collision occurred between a Ford car (with four passengers from Reading) and a telegraph pole. The car was much damaged, but the occupants escaped with somewhat slight injuries.

The National Association of Bakers, have, by poll of members throughout the United Kingdom, elected Mr G. F. Palmer, of Stert Street, Abingdon, as a member of the Council with a total of 590 votes.

The Abingdon Branch of the Women’s Temperance Association, held a garden party on Thursday afternoon in last week, at the residence of Councillor H. T. Clark, J.P ,of Wayste Court, Bath Street, Abingdon, when over 160 attended. There was a concert, also speeches and competitions.

The Abingdon Bowling Club have held competition to decide who should. represent the Abingdon Club for the Berks Championship, and the honour fell to Mr J. E. Greenwood


16th July

The winner of the Alexandra Day guessing competition of the gross receipts was W. J. Vasey, whose guess was £366 6d, the actual amount being £367 5s 1d. The prize was a good river-steamer trip.

The Abingdon Constitutional Association had a river trip to Moulsford and Day’s Lock on Thursday in last week, when a large number of members and friends spent an enjoyable day.

The total rainfall registered in Abingdon for the month of June was only 0.36 inches.

The births and deaths recorded for Abingdon and adjoining hamlets for the past quarter were 62 births and 24 deaths. The births, which were 29 males and 23 females, were 19 less, and the deaths 7 less than in the corresponding quarter last year.

The following have been allowed £62 12s each from the Alexandra Day celebration at Abingdon:— Oxford Infirmary, Oxford Eye Hospital, Abingdon Cottage Hospital, Abingdon Sanatorium, and North Berks Nursing Association.

At this County Bench Court on Monday Jamieson Muir, of Patrick’s Hall, Reading, was charged on three counts of being drunk whilst in charge of a motor car, driving to the danger of the public, and driving without license, on the Oxford Road. It appeared that the defendant, with three others, were rolling against one another in the car, which was swerving from one side of the road to the other, and ultimately collided with a telegraph post. The Bench sentenced the defendant to 14 days without hard labour on the first charge, fined him £20 for the second and £6 for the third.


23rd July

The Abingdon Comrades of the Great War held their annual fete on Saturday last in the grounds of Barton Court, Radley Road. The Abingdon Pavlova Band was in attendance and dancing was indulged in into the evening. There were children’s sports, and a tug-of-war prize went to the Council School.

The hospitals scheme, recently promoted in aid of the Radcliffe Infirmary, is progressing. At the quarterly meeting the General Hon. Sec. (Mr Archie Staniland) stated that the house-to-house collection for the quarter was £153 10s, and there were 50 volunteer collectors, and 1,467, contributors to the scheme. In addition several firms were working the scheme, and the amounts were as follows: —The Clothing Factory £46 1s 6d. Morland and Co., Ltd. £7 2s, Borough Surveyor’s Staff £5 6s 10d. and the Pavlova Leather Co. £42.

Early Friday morning in last week the Abingdon Fire Brigade was called to a fire at the farm in the occupation of Messrs Watts and Son, whereby a large barn and two ricks of straw were totally destroyed. The Abingdon Brigade were assisted by the Wantage and Ardington Fire Brigades. The farm house, occupied by Mrs Cowdrey, was in great danger, the rafters having caught fire. The furniture was removed. With numerous helpers with buckets of water it was prevented from spreading over the whole of the house.


30th July

A sale of work in connection with the funds of the Abingdon Salvation Army was held in the local citadel on Thursday afternoon. The sale was opened by Mrs Bailie, of Caldecott House, who was accompanied by Lady Norman and the Mayoress of Abingdon (Mrs R W. Langford).

The funeral took place last week at Abingdon, of an old Abingdon Gas Company employee, viz., Harry Webb, who was highly respected in the town. He was 44 years at the Abingdon Gas Company, and died at the age of 70 and was an old Oddfellow.

The finals in the competition bouts for the Preston Challenge Cup were played on the Abingdon Park on Thursday afternoon and evening in last week. In the finals, after a keen game. Palmer Park Club, Reading beat Wantage 29—16.


Thank you for the extracts to the Faringdon Advertiser and Vale of the White Horse Gazette on the British Newspaper Archive. Pictures came from Sunday Illustrated from July 1921 also on the British Newspaper Archive.

Tickets Please!

There was a notice to say that the Open Day at the Abbey Buildings had been postponed as Covid restrictions have not been lifted yet.

In Abbey Close there was an old London bus, parked there for a wedding. Some wedding rules have recently changed. Covid regulations have only allowed up to 30 people for some time. Now the headcount depends on how many people the venue can safely accommodate.

The bus brings back memories of holding on to a handrail on the open platform, waiting to get off. There would be the ding ding of the bell as the conductor let the driver know they could set off. Then the conductor would make the rounds to find the people who had just got on calling ‘Tickets Please’. The conductor would sell you a ticket off a rack and punch it; and if they did not get round to you, on a short ride on a busy day, it meant a free ride whether you wanted it or not.

Abingdon 100 years ago – June 1921

4th June 1921

The Abingdon Comrades of the Great War have received a grant from the United Service Fund for the promotion of indoor and outdoor recreation, and a sum of £89 now in hand.

On Saturday the Abingdon Town Cricket Club lost to the Abingdon Grammar School, the scores being School 122, Town 84. Two excellent catches at long off were made by Smeeth, and Eason, Bevan and MacFarlane scored 34, 29 and 22 respectively, while Bradfield for the town batted extremely well, fixing up a score of 44.

From the proceeds of the North Berks Charity Cup Competition the sum of £3 3s has been given to the Abingdon Cottage Hospital; £2 2s to the Abingdon Sanitorium; £1 11s 6d to Didcot and East Hagbourne Nursing Associations, besides donations to other charities.

The Abingdon Bowling Club on Thursday met the Wantage Club on the Abingdon Park Green, Abingdon winning with an aggregate of 83 against 70.

The Board of Guardians of the Union (workhouse) last week accepted the tenders of Messrs Goodley Exors, for bread at 10d the 4lb, loaf, and 35s per 140 lbs. of flour.

The Abingdon Gas Company are fixing the street lamps with inverted burners free of cost to the Corporation.
11th June 1921

The work of erecting the Abingdon Church Hall is to be commenced forthwith as far as the funds in hand will admit, the sum now being £1,200.

At Abingdon Borough Court, before the Mayor and Councillor H. C. Clarke. — Frederick William May, farmer, and Vera May, both of Caldecot Farm, Abingdon, were each fined 7s 6d for riding cycles without lights in the Vineyard, Abingdon.

The Abingdon Bowling Club met East Oxford on the Park Green on Saturday last, and lost by 18 points.

A substantial cheque, subscribed for by churchpeople and others in the town towards defraying the expenses of the Vicar’s serious illness at the Ackland Home, Oxford, has been presented to him by the Churchwardens. The Vicar in acknowledging the gift says, ‘There will, I know, be some interval before I am able to minister in the parish again.’

A memorial tablet has been placed in St. Helen’s Church, and dedicated after morning service, in memory of the late Major General Bailie, of Caldecott House, Abingdon, and his son, Major Douglas Bailie, who was killed in the War.

The Abingdon Branch of the Mothers’ Union were unable to hold their intended meeting at Clock House, Abingdon, on Wednesday last week, in consequence of unpropitious weather, and the meeting was therefore held in the Church Rooms, where lady Dashwood presided and Mrs d’Almaine gave an address.

The committee of the Abingdon and District celebration of Alexandra Day are arranging a very interesting programme of events for the day’s celebration at Abingdon on Saturday, June 11th.

Berks County Scholarships at Roysse’s School, Abingdon, were awarded to Cyril Lay (Abingdon Church Schools) and Norman Banes and Cyril Steff (Abingdon Council Schools).
18th June 1921

At the Cattle Market, on Monday last, the price per cwt. for fat beasts was an average of £5. The supplies of sheep included 194 fat and store sheep. Pigs were somewhat scarcer, 68, mostly stores, being penned.

The house-to-house collection for the month of May in Abingdon for the Radcliffe Infirmary and Abingdon Community Hospital amounted to £48 14s 6d.

The fete recently held in aid of the Abingdon Girl’s Club, in Stratton House Grounds, realised over £100.

A serious accident befell a school boy named William Mercer, aged 7 years, attending the Roman Catholic School in Abingdon. He was running down a bank on the side of the road when a motor car was passing, and he ran into the car, and was struck with the right wing of the car. The lad sustained concussion and a fractured leg and was taken to the Cottage Hospital.
25th June 1921


Abingdon June Fair was held in the Market Place Monday last, when there was a fair amount of the usual paraphernalia. In the evening the fair was crowded, and was kept going till 11 p.m.

The retirement has just taken place of Mr Shem Main, who for many years has been the guard on the passenger service of the Abingdon Branch of the G.W.R, He has been in the Company’s service for 47 years, entering it at Bristol as porter in 1874, afterwards going to Devizes, etc, coming to Abingdon about 20 years ago. He has the best wishes of his fellow servants and many friends.

In a gents’ doubles at tennis last Thursday, between the newly formed Crescent Club, using the Park Courts, and the Pavlova Club the former were the victors by 60 to 48.

The first Y.M.C.A annual sports and fete took place last Saturday at Dunmore Meadow, Wootton Road, when the attendance was very large. The Great Western Swindon Band was judged by all as giving a most excellent programme of music. Dancing was under the M.C. Mr F.B. Rowlinson. The weather, though cloudy, kept fine, and the gate receipts amounted to £50. A guessing the cake competition brought in £3 11s 0d. The roundabouts and swings provided the junior element with entertainment. The challenge cup, given to the Athletics Club by the late Mr R. Cocks, was competed for, and won by P.R. Broad. Many of the competitors in the racing came from Oxford, Didcot Dept., and Wantage.

The results were:

Princess Louise, who had been announced to perform the opening ceremony was unable to be present, and the Mayor (Councillor W.R Langford) undertook the duty.

Thank you for the extracts to the Faringdon Advertiser and Vale of the White Horse Gazette on the British Newspaper Archive. Pictures came from the Abingdon Directory from the 1920s.

P.S: A sitting of the Oxford Bankruptcy Court for Katharine Fanny Frost who carried on business at 20 Market Place, Abingdon, as ‘Helen Benson – Costumier and Milliner.’

Katharine said, ‘I set up in business in Abingdon with a capital of £1,000. I took the shop in Abingdon because I could not get one in Oxford, near which city I wished to be. I had had no experience of the business I opened in Abingdon, and did so on the assurance that there was a good opening there. I engaged a Miss Bennett to help me and she ran the business for a month, for which she received six months’ salary in advance, amounting to £117. Following a disagreement, I gave Miss Bennet £50, because I was afraid that Miss Bennett would take action against me.’

The Official Receiver said, ‘I think there is an expression in the correspondence with this manageress in which she says you have no capacity for business at all. That is about it, is it not’

Katharine said ‘Yes.’

The Official Receiver then said ‘You kept no books, and muddled the money away.’

Katharine said ‘ I drew on my capital from time to time, but did so in the hope that I would be able to earn money before it was all gone.’

The Official Receiver said ‘It took you a year to find out that if you buy at £5 and sell at £2 10s the end will be disaster. It took you a whole year to find it out?’

Katharine said, ‘I knew I was losing, but I thought I should be able to make it again.’…