Category Archives: heritage

Abingdon 100 Years Ago – May 1924


It appears that May 2024 in Abingdon was a busy one! Here is a trip back in time to see what locals were up to:

Local News

The annual May fair was a modest affair, lacking the usual roundabout and music.

The Abingdon Croquet Club kicked off their season with a successful AGM and re-elected their committee.

Abingdon Lawn Tennis Club started their season with mixed results, losing against Faringdon.

The annual spring stock sale at Brewery Meadow, off Ock Street, saw a good turnout and strong prices for cattle.

Mr. C. D. Adkin, a respected auctioneer and community leader, passed away.

The Council Schools held a concert to raise funds for a music festival.

A rummage sale organized by Miss Estridge raised over £14 for the upkeep of Abingdon New Church Hall.


Lady Rucker of Newbury demonstrated how to make footwear from string at the Northcourt Women’s Institute.

A whist drive was held at the Pavlova Canteen to benefit the National Institute for the Blind.

Courtroom Drama

A farmer sought to evict a tenant whose filthy habits rendered the cottage uninhabitable.

A tramp confessed to setting fire to a hayrick at Lodge Hill, claiming hunger and wetness as his motives.


Community and Culture

The North Berks Scouts held a rally in Albert Park.

Mr. Coxeter, the long-serving Chief of the Fire Brigade, stepped down, and Mr. Joseph Gib— was appointed his successor.

The Salvation Army announced the departure of their successful Commanding Officers, Ensign and Mrs. Berry.

A United Service at the Primitive Methodist Church drew a good crowd.


A Local Author Gets Recognition

Abingdon resident Oswald J. Couldrey’s book “South Indian Hours” received a glowing review in The Times, praising its cultural depth and evocative writing. It was chosen as book of the week.

Sources were the Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette on the British Newspaper Archive, The North Berks Herald from the Abingdon Library microfilm, The Times archive accessible from Abingdon Library online. Thanks to the Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette on the BNA for the pictures.

Abingdon 100 Years Ago – April 1924


Abingdon Flower Show: This year’s Abingdon Flower Show will be held in the Old Historical Abbey Grounds.

Town Band Concert: The Abingdon Town Band gave a successful concert in the Abingdon Corn Exchange.

Baptist Children Society Annual Egg Service: The Baptist CE Society held its annual egg services for juniors and seniors. The 240 collected eggs will be distributed among the sick and to the hospital.

Cottage Hospital: The matron thanks all those who donated eggs on Egg Day.

Birthday Gift for Rev. Morris: The Rev. J. P. Morris, pastor of the Baptist Church, Abingdon, was presented with a Christian Endeavor Hymnal by his congregation on the occasion of his birthday.


Good Friday Observance: Good Friday was observed quietly in Abingdon. The old custom of hot cross buns was still observed, but the cry of “One a Penny, Two a Penny” was conspicuous by its absence. Church services were held, and some people spent the day in the country or working on their allotments. The Salvation Army Band from Oxford also visited Abingdon and played at the Albert Park.

Easter Services: Easter services at St. Helen’s Church were well attended.

Abingdon Bowling Club: The Abingdon Bowling Club has issued its fixture card. The club has again entered for the Berks County Cup and the Preston Challenge Cup.

Police Court: William Fred Baylis of Oxford was fined for causing a nuisance in the Abingdon Market Place.

Football: Abingdon Town Club defeated Newbury in the Reading District League. Didcot lost to Childrey in the North Berks Cup Final. Both games were played at the Abingdon Town ground.

Liberal Victory Dinner: A celebratory dinner was held at the Abingdon Corn Exchange to mark the recent Liberal victory in the Abingdon Division. Earl Beauchamp, a former Liberal Cabinet minister, chaired the event. Mr. E. A. Leasing won back the seat for liberalism by a majority of 264. There were over 400 guests.

Excursions: The Great Western Railway Company announced special day excursions from Abingdon to Newbury Races. The Great Western Railway also offered cheap trips to the cup final between Aston Villa and Newcastle United.

Death of Reverend Herbert Thomas Maitland: The Reverend Herbert Thomas Maitland passed away at the age of 78 after a long illness.

Housing Scheme: At the town council meeting on Wednesday evening, the council agreed to make an application to the Ministry of Health for sanction to raise by loan £8,705 for the development of the Box Hill site near North Court, on the border of the town.

New Workhouse Master: The Board of Guardians has selected the new Master of the Abingdon Poor Law Institution from a list of candidates. They interviewed three, and the credentials of each were excellent. The choice fell on Mr. Richard D. Bushall from Kingston-on-Thames workhouse, where he had been assistant master for nearly three years. Mr. Bushall, who is 32 years of age, has gained a master’s certificate in the Poor Law Board’s examination.

Death of Mr. William Aldworth: The death of Mr. William Aldworth, Baker, and Confectioner, at 15 West St Helen Street, Abingdon, occurred at his residence on Easter Sunday, at the age of 69 years.

Boy Scouts Performance: The Boy Scouts of the North Berks Local Association will be presenting scenes from Abingdon’s history written by Miss Agnes Baker. An opening scene will sketch the beginnings of the town, followed by three episodes based around the second Saxon Church of Abingdon Abbey. The journey will then delve into the many merriments of a medieval fair. In the closing scene, there will be a picture of Henry VIII at Abingdon, some 20 years before his unscrupulous policy brought about the dissolution of our Abbey and many other ancient abbeys.

Unemployment Returns: The number of registered unemployed people in Abingdon is 109.

Joint Hospital Board Meeting: No business was transacted at the monthly meeting of the Joint Hospital Ward at the Isolation Hospital due to lack of quorum.

Dinner at Railway Inn: A dinner was held at the Railway Inn. Mr. S. Long occupying the chair and 62 guests sitting down to an excellent repast with entertainment provided by the ‘Oxford Knuts’.

Whist Drive at The Hut: A successful whist drive was held at The Hut, North Court. The highest score was 174, made by Mrs. A. Gerring.

Thank you for the news extracts and adverts from the Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette in the British Newspaper Archive. Also, thanks to the North Berks Herald microfilm in Abingdon Library for more adverts and news stories.

Abingdon 100 Years Ago – March 1924


Indignation was aroused on Wednesday evening when it became known that the large replica of Felix the Cat, which stands at the front entrance of the Kinema, was missing. However, before long, the worst fears were allayed when the effigy of the famous cat was found at the Queen’s Hotel, where some undergraduates had taken him for a drink.

The Board of Governors of the Abingdon Union, at their meeting on Monday, decided to reopen the casual ward attached to the institution. This action has been influenced by the significant increase in expenses that the board has been called upon to pay to The Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Joint Vagrancy Committee. The sum has increased from £16 pounds to £208 in just three years.

A Whist Drive was held in the Hut, Northcourt on Tuesday, in aid of the women’s Institute.

The Abingdon and District staff of the Pearl Assurance Company Limited held their annual tea at the Baptist Hall. The evening started with a musical selection, followed by a talk from a Pearl Assurance Manager. He noted the significance of the day due to the company publishing their annual accounts in London, and locally opening their new offices in Abingdon.


A hen belonging to Mr. T. Drew of Marcham Road laid an egg weighing over four ounces.

On Wednesday, a car, driven by Mr. Bernard Butler of Cowley Road, Oxford, was coming up Ock Street when the steering rod went wrong and locked, causing the car to turn and collide with Miss Blizzard’s shopfront, smashing the glass and woodwork.

Notices by the Thames Conservancy have been posted at Abingdon Bridge and at the lock: ‘Beware! Beneath the water mark at Abingdon Bridge, there are projecting stones that could damage navigation craft.’

There was a good attendance at the second of five lectures during Lent on Sunday afternoon, when the Rev. Dr. A. J. Carlyle (formerly Oxford City Rector) spoke on “Is our civilization going downhill?” These lectures are being held in the Stert Street Cinema.


The Abingdon Licensing Justices decided to refer two licensed houses to the Clerk Compensation Authority, namely, The Steam Plough, Broad Street (owners, Messrs. Morland and Co., brewers, Abingdon; licensee, Mrs. Ellen Doman, widow) and The Fox and Hounds, Vineyard, a beerhouse (owners, Halls Brewery, Oxford; licensee, Mr. Leonard Tame, a painter). Supt. W. Foster’s statement revealed the fact that the population was 7,167, and there were 46 licensed houses, which gave one to every 155 inhabitants. Within 150 yards of The Steam Plough there were seven fully licensed houses, and within a quarter-mile radius of The Fox and Hounds there were nine fully licensed houses, one beerhouse, one grocer’s license, and one refreshment house license.

At the Borough Police Court on Tuesday, Percival Yates, of 17, Stert Street, Abingdon, was summoned for non-maintenance of his wife, Catherine Yates, of The Ark, Manor Road, Wantage. The case took some considerable time, and eventually the Bench made an order for the defendant to pay his wife 15s. per week and the Court costs of 9s. 6d.

St Nicolas church is desirous of completing their new hall, situated in the Abbey, near the Market Place, and a meeting was held on Tuesday night with the object of obtaining support by inaugurating a lightning campaign to raise funds. The object is to obtain the sum of £1,600 in 16 months. The campaign was opened at the meeting by Archdeacon Shaw, and the work is to be started when £800 has been obtained. The campaign received strong support from Abingdon churchgoers, resulting in a considerable sum being collected and promised.

The death occurred on Saturday morning from double pneumonia after a very short illness of Mr. William Henry Randall, of Swinbourne Road. Deceased was one of the principal builders in the town, and by his amiability had won a large circle of friends. The funeral took place in the Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon and was attended by a considerable number of friends.

Thank you for the news extracts and adverts from theOxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette in the British Newspaper Archive. Also, thanks to the North Berks Herald microfilm in Abingdon Library for a couple of adverts and a few stories. Felix came from The Picturegoer in July 1924. An egg weighing over four ounces came from the Grimsby Daily Telegraph. I could not find a picture of the Abingdon egg.

P.S. Just to add that I will be taking a week off from the blog and will be back around the 8th April 2024.

Which pub in Abingdon has gravestones in its garden and why?


In the first edition of the Trinity Triangle magazine, in September 1982, I found the following:

ADULT PUZZLER
Which pub in Abingdon has gravestones in its garden and why?

ANSWER (October 1982)
Our oldest member at Trinity – Miss Evelyn Rant – answered the Adult Puzzler correctly. She said, ‘The White Horse at the corner of Spring Road was once a burial ground.’

I did visit the White Horse and got pictures of some of the stones in the rock garden, but I was not sure any were from gravestones.

The staff at the pub knew nothing about the graveyard. However, Jackie Smith, the town archivist, has access to a map that shows Ock Street with the Air Balloon pub, a yard, a building, and then a Quaker burial ground. That Quaker burial ground starts near Reeves fish and chip shop.

Arthur Preston’s book, St Nicholas Abingdon and other papers (p. 98), refers to ‘the dissenters’ graveyard at the west end of Ock Street – known as the Quakers’ burial ground.’