Category Archives: heritage

Roysse School Gothic Gateway

The Gothic Gateway that once led to the yard of Roysse School has a coat of arms for John Roysse.

The other two coat of arms have only partly survived. The Borough of Abingdon arms are still recognizable to the right.

On a photo by Henry Taunt, the other coat of arms can be seen more clearly with the date MDCCCX1 (1811). It is for the Earl of Abingdon.

According to Agnes Baker, the 5th Earl of Abingdon gave £100 towards building the gateway. Accounts show the gateway was made by local craftsmen for £99. 10. 11½. The Earl’s arms were added in gratitude. Borough and school also contributed to school improvements in 1811.

The current Earl of Abingdon (the 9th) was born in 1931 and I took this picture during a visit to Abingdon during 2006 (450th Charter Anniversary). Peter Green was the Mayor of Abingdon at the time. The Earl of Abingdon is next to Peter (in the double breasted suit).

(source: Historic Abingdon – 56 Articles by Agnes C. Baker)

Abingdon 100 years ago – March 1921

5th March 1921

By the will of the late Mr. W. J Hedges, solicitor, Abingdon, a bequest of two landscape paintings by B.W. Leader, R.A., has been made to Abingdon Corporation and accepted.

The Abingdon Town Council have appointed Alderman J.T. Morland as representative of the boroughs of Abingdon and Wallingford to the Thames Conservancy, in place of Mr Hedges of Wallingford.

At the Abingdon Borough Police Court, Harold Hatherall, 22, alias Brown, being described as a commercial traveler, was charged with embezzling various sums of money, received by him on account of his employer, William Barnett, sweet manufacturer, Ock Street, Abingdon. Prisoner pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months hard labour.

12th March 1921

At the Abingdon Baptist Chapel on Wednesday last the Rev. J. B. Morris gave appreciative lecture on Women hymn writers and their hymns. Councillor W. B. Langford presided and there was a good attendance. The choir sang several of the hymns.

At the Abingdon Congregational Church last Wednesday evening a social gathering took place. The occasion was taken of presenting Mr and Mrs Wake, who had been the caretakers of the Chapel for 21 years, with a token of appreciation of their work. The presents took the form of a pipe and pouch for Mr Wake and a handsome teapot for Mrs Wake. Refreshments were served and a capital programme of music was rendered.

On Wednesday evening, the 9th inst., at the Abingdon Exchange, a large gathering convened by the Abingdon Liberal Association for the purpose of forming a combined Liberal Association for the North Berks polling district. Rules were submitted, and the officers and committee appointed. Mr. E. A. Leasing, Kingford House, gave an address on ‘Russia under Bolshevik Rule,’ illustrated with lantern slides from snapshots taken by him. Following the short lecture, refreshments were served, and a humorous entertainment given by Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, of Oxford. The meeting concluded with a dance, the music being supplied by the excellent, Abingdon Pavlova Orchestra. The arrangements were under the management of Mr. William Benthall, Liberal Agent for the Division.

At the cattle market last week there was a fair supply of stock. The top price for fat beasts was £68 10s, and that for sheep £7 12s.

At the annual meeting of the Cottage Hospital, last week, the report for the past year, showed total receipts from all sources of £1,159 2d, as against £775 last year. There was, however, a deficit of £26, but at the meeting it was announced that Mrs Dockar Drysdale, of Wick Hall, Radley, had sent a cheque to pay off this deficit. Out-patients during the past year numbered 2,056, patients admitted 85, accidents 19, anaesthetic given in 8 cases, and 538 visits paid by the District Nurse. Votes of thanks to the various donors and helpers of the hospital were passed and the officers re-elected for the ensuing year.

19th March 1921

In aid of the Radcliffe Infirmary the Abingdon North End Slate Club, Vineyard, Abingdon, made a collection amongst the members, and have sent the sum of £3 14s. as a donation to the institution. A scheme of systematic contributions by the members has been undertaken and is now being formulated throughout the town. (A Slate Club is a group of people who saved money in a common fund for Christmas.)

The appointment of Sir Mortimer Singer, of Milton Hill, as High Sheriff for the County of Berks, is popular amongst Abingdon townspeople, Sir Mortimer Singer being a considerable supporter of many local objects.

The funeral took place in Abingdon Cemetery on Thursday afternoon. the 10th inst., of Mr. Charles Gillett. aged 86 years. He retired from farming at Lower Hadden, near Bampton, about 15 years ago, afterwards taking up his residence at Abingdon. He was a considerable breeder and exhibitor of Cotswold sheep, and afterwards of Oxford Down sheep.

The Abingdon Choral Society on Wednesday, at the Corn Exchange, gave a sacred, concert, consisting of two cantatas ‘Daughter of Jairus,’ and Mendelssohn’s 42nd Psalm, under the able conductorship of Mr. H. Sheldon Peach. There was a large and appreciative audience. The proceeds were in aid of the Radcliffe Infirmary and Abingdon Cottage Hospital.

The terminal athletic sports took place on the school grounds, Park Road, on Saturday afternoon. There was a fair attendance of spectators. In the open long jump for the challenge cup and prizes there were six entries, N. O. Carr winning with 17ft 7½ins. Then. N. A. Carr won the high jump, 5ft. 2ins. and C. Ellis, for under 16s, 4ft. I. Williams was successful in the quarter-mile (open); S. L. Buckle, throwing cricket ball; N. O. Carr, 100 yards open; R. Waterhouse (100yds), half-mile handicap; and N. O. Carr, putting the weight. The prizes were presented at the close by Mrs. Frank Morland.

26th March 1921

The Board of Guardians of the Abingdon Union have made a rate of 6½d. in the pound, this a penny less than in the same period of last year. The remainder of the Oxford inmates in the institution were taken back to Oxford on Wednesday. There were twenty-one children chargeable to the Abingdon Union in the Cowley Poor Law School and a committee is considering the possibility of obtaining a house for their accommodation.

At the County Bench on Monday last Walter Candy, farmer, Blagrove Farm, Foxcombe Hill, Sunningwell, was fined £5 for selling milk from a cart on February 24th, at Sunningwell, adulterated with 14 per cent, of water.

A series of monthly united Sunday evening services are being held in the Abingdon Corn Exchange, the first speaker being the Vicar of Abingdon, and the second the Rev. C. H. Gill, Congregational minister. The third will be the Rev. Morris, Baptist minister (April 10).

The body of a newly-born infant was found floating on the river between Culham and Abingdon by Mr. H. Botterell, boat builder, Abingdon, whilst returning from Culham. It was a fully developed female child and had apparently been in the water several days. An inquest was to be held at Cottage Hospital on Thursday in last week but the doctor who examined the body was of the opinion the child had not had a separate existence, and consequently an inquest was not held.

The Abingdon branch of the Comrades of the War held a whist at their club rooms in Ock Street, on Thursday evening. the 17th inst. The prizes were given by the tradesmen of the town. Refreshments were served during the interval.

Thank you for the extracts to the Faringdon Advertiser and Vale of the White Horse Gazette on the British Newspaper Archive. Pictures from Abingdon Town Council, newspaper adverts from the Gazette including the picture from an advert for Doan’s Backache Kidney Pills, picture of Cowley workhouse men from the Oxford Illustrated Journal.

2021 Census to take snapshot of Abingdon – 1921 Census details published soon

We will complete our census return on 21st March 2021. Somebody investigating our family history in one hundred years time (or whenever the census is released) will see that we live at the same address as ten years ago, and that our professions have changed. In 2021, they will also be able to see for the first time whether we served in the armed forces, our sexual orientation, and gender identity.
The 1921 census was the only time the census was delayed (until June) and that was due to industrial unrest.

New questions in 1921 included more details about profession: what materials people worked in, place of work and their employer’s name. For those over the age of 15 there was information about marital status, and whether divorced. For those under 15 the census recorded whether both parents were alive or if either or both parents had died. It also had detailed questions on education including whether people were in full-time or part-time education.

The 1921 census summary for the Borough of Abingdon showed the inhabitants to number 7,167, an increase of 358 from 1911. Females numbered 3,896, and males 3,271.

Commenting on the summary statistics, released in September 1921, a local newspaper said, ‘It is evident that all of them cannot get married unless they go further afield. The single man who shows a preference for the single life will have to run the gauntlet and if the feminine majority care to exercise their powers, they will no doubt impose a heavy tax on bachelors. Women came into many occupations during the war, and many of them continued to be employed. They have cultivated the spirit of independence and are claiming equality of opportunity. The males have no longer any right to pose as the superior sex’.

The individual details of the 1921 census have not been published yet but will be within the next year on This delay is supposedly for reasons of privacy. However a lot of the details of people now over 100 years old will be already in the public domain from other sources.

Abingdon 100 years ago – February 1921

5th February 1921
Abingdon 100 years ago
On Thursday evening in last week the local performers, under the title of the ‘ Cheerios,’ gave an excellent concert in the Corn Exchange, when the proceeds were given to the Abingdon Cottage Hospital. The programme included a Pierrot troupe in the first half. The second part of the programme consisted of various items, with a sketch, “The Registry Office,” a burlesque lecture on “Phrenology.” and a musical burlesque, “The Costar’s Outing.”, and merited the appreciation given by the large audience.

The annual meeting of the Abingdon Branch of the National Farmers’ Union was held at the Lion Hotel, Abingdon, last week, Mr P. Aldwinckle presiding. The accounts showed £122 4s 8d brought forward, and donations and subscriptions £152 9s 3d, the balance, after expenses, being £57 10s. The membership was stated to be 110 out of 132 farmers in the district. Aldwinckle retired from the chairmanship and Mr F. A May was elected in his place. Mr W. J. Cumber, chairman of the County Executive, gave an address.

The old established Philanthropic Institution has issued its report for the past year, and states that grants have been made from the funds in 13 cases. The subscription and donations were £32 12s, and there is a balance carried forward of 18s 6d. The investment account showed a total of £165 13s 5d.

At the County Bench, Joseph Gilbert, manager, and Emily Gilbert, manageress of ‘The Fish’ Inn Sutton Courtenay were summoned for allowing ‘nap’ to be played at the Inn. P.S. Painter and P.C Barrett said they saw a light in the house and listened outside and heard a woman’s voice say “Three and nap”. The defendant, Joseph Gilbert said that as it was his last night as manager, he had invited friends to a convivial farewell. Dismissed on payment of costs.

12th February 1921
Abingdon 100 years ago
The paper mills at Sandford-on-Thames near Abingdon are closed down and over 100 persons have been added to the list of unemployed. It is stated that German dumping and lack of credit is the cause.

The supplies at Abingdon Cattle Market on Monday included 22 fat beasts. 35 calves, 97 sheep, and 125 pigs. Prices remained firm.

It was stated in Supt. Foster’s annual report to the Licensing Justices that in Abingdon there were 38 fully licensed houses, 5 beer houses, 1 refreshment house, 5 grocer’s licenses, and 1 brewer’s retail, total 50, which was approximately one licensed house to every 136 inhabitants in the Borough. Convictions for drunkenness numbered 8 as against 4 the previous year The Superintendent mentioned that complaints had been made of allowing draws and sweepstakes on licensed premises, which was illegal, and he took this opportunity to warn license holders.

19th February 1921
Abingdon 100 years ago
The sum of £10 10s (corrected thanks to comment), the proceeds of a whist drive at the Roysse Room, Abingdon, has been forwarded to the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children. (The N.S.P.C.C. investigated 3,207 complaints of neglect and cruelty in England, Ireland and Wales during the month of February 1921.)

At the Borough Police Court on Wednesday, James Gordon, 21, a dealer, was fined 12s 6d for being drunk and disorderly in Stert Street the previous night.

Frank English was charged with stealing from the Abingdon Corn Exchange a quantity of photographic lenses, the property of J.H.Viner. The prisoner had shown great interest in the lenses, and they were found by P.S Painter hidden behind a large telephone pole in Stert Street where the prisoner had been seen. The prisoner was then arrested and charged. Evidence was given as to the good character previously borne by the accused, who had served in the Army, was shell-shocked in an engagement at Messines in 1918, and had been in seven hospitals. The Bench bound the prisoner over to come for judgement under the Probation Act

26th February 1921
Abingdon 100 years ago
Roysse School, Abingdon held their annual steeplechases on Wednesday afternoon in last week. There were 30 entries for the senior and 14 boys under 14. A. J Newbury won the seniors’ race, about 1 3/4 miles in 11 min. 4secs., and A. W. Miles won the juniors’ race.

The annual meeting of the Abingdon Fire Brigade was held last week, Mr W. M. Coxeter presiding. The report stated that six calls had been received during the year, three of which were outside the Borough. The Corporation had supplied the Brigade with 600 feet of new hose. All the officers were re-elected.

The Abingdon Women’s Unionist Association held a social evening in the Corn Exchange on Wednesday in last week. Lady Norman presided, and there were also present: Lady Violet Henderson, Mrs Wigan, and Mr and Mrs A. T. Loyd. After a few short speeches capital entertainment was given, followed by a dance. Refreshments were served. The members of the Men’s Branch of the Association were invited.

At the County Bench, Donald Robert Sullivan and Charles Mills, residing at Steventon, motor drivers at the R. A.F. Milton Depot, were charged on remand with stealing from the Depot two pieces of white Japanese silk the value of £120. The material was stated to be of fine texture, the kind used for parachutes, and of the value of £1 per yard. A considerable amount of the silk, the police stated, had been recovered. It appeared from the evidence of P.S. Painter that he went to the Depot and saw the prisoner, Mills, who denied any knowledge of the silk. The next day P.S.D. Owen met Hills on the way to Abingdon, who said he wanted to make a clean breast of it. The defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced to two months imprisonment without hard labour.

Thank you for the extracts to the Faringdon Advertiser and Vale of the White Horse Gazette on the British Newspaper Archive. Picture of the Pierrot troope is at Ashurt Hospital from the Oxford Illustrated Journal. The N.S.P.C.C advert was from 1924. The Punch Advert from the Oxford Chronicle. The Volunteer Fire Service from an old Post Card. They moved from Roysse old school yard to Bury Street in 1922.