Just off Bath Street, up Fitzharry’s Road, can be found a large green space in the centre of a 1950s estate. The estate was developed as housing for workers at the atomic energy research establishment in nearby Harwell.
The green space with the plaque is what reamins of Fitzharry’s House – a large historic house demolished in the 1950s. It had a long history and The Friends of Abingdon tried to save it – but in vain.
Nearby, close to the River Stert, is a similarly framed plaque. It describes the mound beyond – which is the remaining half of what was once a Motte and Bailey. This fortification was constructed in the years after the Norman Conquest when the new overlords could not always sleep soundly in their beds after fining and taxing locals above the odds
The top of the Motte is ten to twelve strides across, and about ten strides deep. It is still surrounded by a ditch which was once the moat. The Bailey that stood on the Motte would not have withstood an attack by a visting army but would presumably have kept a marauding mob of locals at bay on a Friday night.
The Ftitzharry name comes from a 13th knight, Hugh FitzHarry, who sold this estate to Abingdon Abbey before going off to the crusades. He probably got bored of fining locals whose pigs had strayed onto his estate, and got fired up by something really really worth fighting about – the Holy Land. Nothing much has changed.