Abingdon, Berkshire in the Year of 1880

St.Helen’s on the Thames, photo by Momit

 

From a Dictionary of the Thames from Oxford to the Nore. 1880 by Charles Dickens

Abingdon, Berkshire, on the right bank, from London 103 3/4miles, from Oxford 7 3/4 miles. A station on the Great Western Railway, from Paddington 60 miles. The time occupied by the trains varies from one hour and threequarters upwards ; the station is about twelve minutes’ walk from the river. Population, 6,506. Soil, gravel.

Abingdon is situated at the junction of the Ock with the Thames, and can boast very considerable antiquity. It appears to have grown up round a great abbey which was founded here so far back as the 7th century, but it is probable that much of the early history of Abingdon is entirely of a legendary kind, and that. little is known about it with absolute certainty until the time of the Conquest. The evidence of Domesday Book goes to show that the abbey at that time was rich in landed property. Desperate quarrels occurred between the monks and the citizens, and in 1327 n great part of the abbey was burnt in a riot in which the Mayor of Oxford and certain disorderly students of that University took the part of the inhabitants of Abingdon.

The town gradually grew into importance, principally through its extensive cloth trade, but received a severe blow when the abbey was abolished in 1538 and its large revenues diverted into other channels. Another reason for the importance of the town in ancient days was the building of its bridge by John Huchyns and Geoffrey Barbur in 1416. In the reign of Queen Mary, 1557, a Charter of Incorporation was granted to the town at the instigation of Sir John Mason, an influential inhabitant, and it has ever since been represented in Parliament, the original number of two members being now reduced to one. The borough is now represented by Mr. John C. Clarke, a Liberal. The number of voters on the register in 1878 was 890. The town is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. The principal business centre is the Marketplace, with High street, Stert-street, East St. Helen’s-street, the Square, and Ock-street. It is a clean, quiet little place — quiet even to the point of dulness—with many good houses both modern and ancient. Among the latter may be instanced an excellent example of old timbering in a house in Stert-street. Notwithstanding its apparent quiet a fair amount of trade is carried on in Abingdon, and one of its principal industries is that of the manufacture of ready-made clothing, thus, oddly enough, carrying out the old traditions of the place, which, as Leland says, atone time “stood by clothing.” The market-house stands on an open arcade of stone pillars with a timbered roof, and is the work of Inigo Jones. Built in 1667, it was restored in 1853, and stands on the site of the famous old market cross which was destroyed by the Parliamentary General Waller in 1644.

A curious picture of the cross is on the outside of the south wall of Christ’s Hospital, facing the river, The abbey gateway still stands to the eastward of the market-place, and a little beyond it, on the right, are some very interesting remains of the old abbey itself, now in the occupation of a brewer, but readily accessible to visitors. Here, at the extreme end of the yard, on the right, some crumbling steps with a time-worn wooden balustrade at the top lead to the abbot’s apartments, now used as lofts, in which are the remains of a fine fire-place, said to be of the time of Henry III., with a capacious chimney, some good windows, and well-preserved pointed arches to the doorways. The roofs are lofty and the walls of immense thickness. Underneath this room is a remarkable crypt, also unusually lofty, which is at present used for the storage of bitter ale.

The entrance to the crypt is close to the backwater of the Thames, and is shaded by some splendid chestnuts—for which indeed Abingdon is remarkable. The upper windows facing the river at this point are in good preservation, and, from a lane between the brewery and the abbey gateway, is a very picturesque view of the great chimney above mentioned. The church of St. Nicholas ad joins the abbey gateway, and will well repay a visit. Close to the pulpit is a painted mural monument, with a carved stone base, reaching from the floor almost to the ceiling, dedicated to the memory of John Blacknail and Jane his wife, “who both of them finished an happy course upon earth, and ended their days in peace on the 2ist day of August, 1625.” They are represented by two figures in black kneeling on red and gilt cushions, she with her two children praying behind her; and the epitaph runs as follows :

When once the liv’d on earth one bed did hold
Their bodies, which one minute turned to mould,
Being dead, one grave is trusted with that prize,
Until the trump doth sound, and all must
Here death’s stroke, even, did not part this pair,
But by this stroke they more vnited were :
And what left they behind you plainly see,
One only davghter, and their charity.
What thovgh the first by death’s command did leave us,
The second, we are sure, will ne’er deceive us.

Blacknall was a great benefactor to the town, and among his charities is a dole of forty-seven loaves of bread, which are distributed from his tomb every Sunday. There is a small brass with an inscription, to the Bostock family (1669), some curious old stained glass panes with an almost undecipherable inscription, and an old carved stone font. Behind the altar, hidden by a wooden screen, is an old reredos, unfortunately considerably mutilated. The registers date back to 1558, are in splendid order, and most carefully bound and preserved, and contain many curious entries ; among others, the records of several civil marriages, after publication of the names three times in the market, attested by John Bolton and others, mayors of the town in 1657. The church has a tower with a singular square turret attached, and a good Norman doorway.

A much finer church is St. Helen’s, close to the river, the spire of which, with its flying but tresses, is a landmark to this portion of the Thames. This really handsome church has a nave and chancel of equal breadth, and side aisles, with timbered roof good throughout, and in the nave and chancel very elaborate. In the north aisle the roof is still decorated with curious paintings, many of which are gradually but surely fading. There is a new carved marble font and modern oak roodscreen, both of considerable beauty.

John Roysse – (1500-1571) Photograph of a portrait copy of John Roysse at Abingdon School by unknown artist. photo by Racinemanager

Among the monuments is the stone memorial in the north aisle to John Roysse, the founder of the Abingdon Grammar School, who died in 1571, leaving express orders that the great stone in his arbour in his London garden should be the upper stone of his tomb at Abingdon, round about which four-and-twenty pensioners should for ever kneel on Sundays to receive alms; and with further careful provision that ” twelve pence in white bread, being good, sweet, and seasonable,” should be distributed every Sunday at his tomb, to twelve old widows, ” women or men,” of whom every one, at the receipt thereof should say, ” The blessed Trinity upon JOHN ROYSSE’S soul have mercy ! “

Another stone monument in the west of the north aisle, bears the following inscription: “This tombe is honord with the bones of our pious benefactour, Richard Curtaine, gent., a principall magistrate of this Corpâ, hee was buried July ye 18, Ano Dominy 1643;” and elsewhere on the tomb are these lines, which at the time were no doubt considered to embody a quaint conceit :

   Our Cvrtaine in this lower press, Rests folded vp in natvre’s dress.

At the foot of this tomb is a brass, with, a half-length figure in action of prayer, Galfridus Barbur, 1417; and behind the organ is another brass, nearly obliterated, displaying a full-length female figure. In the east of the south aisle is a curious painting of the genealogical tree of W. Lee, 1637. Mr. Lee was five times Mayor of Abingdon, and “had in his life time issue from his loins two hundred lacking but three.” The organ displays a quaint woodcarving of King David, with gilded harp and crown. The tomb of Mrs. Elizabeth Hawkins, 1780, is a capital example of what should be avoided in the way of monumental sculpture. It is crowded with busts of fat naked children, weeping tears of colossal size, and ail the usual devices and properties of the most conventional stone mason. The perpetrator of this work of genius was, it appears, one Hickey, who was fortunate enough to receive for it £400 under the deceased lady’s will.

In the churchyard of St. Helen’s is a row of almshouses in memory of Charles Twitty, 1707, who gave ,£1,700 for building and endowing “an hospital for maintayning in meate, drinke, and apparrel, and all other necessarys of life 3 poor aged men, and the like number of poor aged women.” Abutting off the churchyard also are the cloistered buildings of the charity at Christ’s Hospital, which was refounded in 1553—having been dissolved by Henry VIII.—at the instance of Sir John Mason, who procured for it a charter frorti Edward VI. Over the central porch of the hospital are ‘ some curious old paintings, representing such subjects as the giving of alms, the story of the Good Samaritan, and other scripture subjects, as well as a portrait of Edward VI. The picture of the old market cross has already been noticed. The oak-panelled hall, which is lighted by a lofty lantern, has several odd pictures, among them one representing the building of Abingdon Bridge, in memory of ” Jefforye Barbur and John Howchion.” On the frame is inscribed : ” Frauncis Little, one of ye governors of this hospital, gave this table, An. Dm. 1607,” and underneath the picture stands the table in question, a fine one of oak, with curiously carved legs. A portrait of Edward VI. hangs, with several others, in the hall ; and there is also preserved the original charter, which shows considerable signs of age. The later portion of the hospital buildings, which runs parallel to the river, dates from 1718, and it is just below this point that the waters of the Ock and of the Wilts and Berks Canal join the Thames.

At the north side of the town is the Albert Park, presented to the town by the trustees of Christ’s Hospital is 1864. It is well laid out and planted, and in it stands a monument to the late Prince Consort, with his statue in the robes of the Garter. Adjoining the park are the new buildings of the grammar school, founded by John Roysse in 1563. The profligacy of John Roysse’s son was the immediate cause of the foundation of Abingdon Grammar School. It is said that nothing but the universal estimation in which men held his father, ” as well in the west country as also in Kent or otherwise,” saved the criminal from the penalties of the law. Roysse disinherited him, and, after making provision for his grandson and making certain other bequests, bequeathed the residue of his fortune, directing that as it was endowed A.D. 1563, and in the 63rd year of its founder’s life, it should educate 63 boys for ever.

Thomas Teesdale, the first scholar admitted into this school, endowed an ushership in the school, and left funds for purchasing lands for the maintenance of fellows and scholars from Abingdon school at Balliol College, Oxford. His trustees, however, combined with Richard Wightwick to found Pembroke College, Oxford, at which college the school possesses five of the incorporated scholarships. Of these one is filled up annually, and two boys who have been educated at the school for two years are nominated as candidates. Each scholarship is of the value of £50 per annum, with rooms rent free, and is tenable for five years. The fees for boarders under the age of 13 are £57 ; over 13, £63. Hard by Roysse’s school is Sir Gilbert Scott’s elaborately decorated church of St. Michael,1 which Serves as a chapel-of-ease to St. Helen’s. The street leading to the park from Ock-street is by the side of the alms houses founded by Benjamin Tompkins in 1733.

Sir George Gilbert Scott

Link is to the website of the Scott family.  They have quite fascinating family history.  Claims to fame include:

  1. The Scott family have designed cathedrals on 5 continents including Africa, Asia, Europe,  North America & Australia.

  2. Two members of the Scott family feature on the new British passport. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and Elizabeth Scott.

  3. Sir George Gilbert Scott is buried in Westminster Abbey in a grave, which he would have been pleased to learn, unearthed some of the earliest Roman remains discovered in the Abbey

  4. The iconic red telephone box was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who took inspiration from Sir John Soane’s wife mausoleum.  Click here to view additional British Telephone Box designs and history.

  5. Sir George Gilbert Scott at the age of just 33 built the tallest building in the world (At the time, St Nicholas’s Cathedral in Hamburg)

    The Scott family run the London based Watts and Co. 

Mausoleum from which the British red telephone box was design inspired. George Basevi’s painting of Sir Soane’s Tomb – 1816

The angler should not be afraid of fishing near the town, as there are some excellent swims close by. In Blake’s Lock -pool there are arbel, chub, perch, &c., and on the tow-path side, opposite Thrup, just past the overfall, there is a swim of considerable length, and full six feet deep, reachable from the bank.

  • BANKS.—Gillett and Co., the Square ; London and County, Market-place.
  • FAIRS. — First Monday in Lent, May 6, Junes 20, July I, September 19 and 30, December 11.
  • FIRE ENGINE.—Abbey – gate-way.
  • HOTEL.—”Crown and Thistle”(landing-stage at the “Nag’s Head’); “Lion,” High-street; “Queen’s,” Market-place (landing-stage at the “Anchor”)
  • MARKET DAY. —Monday.
  • PLACES OF WORSHIP.—St. Helen’s: Sunday, 11 a.m., 6.30 p.m. Holy Communion, 8 or 11 a.m.   St. Michaels’s: Sunday, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. (shildren) and 6.30 p.m. Daily, 5 p.m.  Holy Communion 8 a.m.   St. Nicholas: Sunday, 11 a.m., 3 p.m.  Daily, 10 a.m.   Catholic, Vineyard: Our Lady and St. Edmund. Sunday, 11 a.m, 6.30 p.m.   Baptist, Ock – street: Sunday, 11 a.m., 6.30 p.m.  The minister receives 30s. per annum for preaching a sermon to commemorate the death of Queen Anne.   Baptist (Particular), Abbey: Sunday, 10.30 a.m., 2.30 p.m. (summer), 2 p.m. (winter).  Independent, Ock-street: Sunday, 10.30 a.m., 6.30 p.m., and Monday evening.  Primitive Methodist, Spring-road: Sunday 11 a.m., 6.30 p.m.  Wesleyan, Albert-park Sunday 11 a.m., 6.30 p.m.
  • POLICE.—Borough, Abbey-gateway; County, Bridge-street, close to the bridge.
  • POSTAL ARANGEMENTS.—Post Office (money order, savings bank, telegraph, and insurance), Marketplace.  Mails from London, 7 and 11.30 a.m., 5 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. Mails for London, 11.10a.m, 3.40 and 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 p.m.
  • NEAREST Bridge, Ferry, Lock, and Railway station, Abingdon.  Nearest Bridges, up, Oxford 7 3/4 miles; down, Sutton 2 miles.  Locks, up Sandford 5 mile; down, Culham 2 miles.
  • FARES to Paddington; 1st, 10/10, 18/3; 2nd, 8/2, 13/9; 3rd, 5/6.

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Cut up three to [...] Read more →

Cocktails and Canapés

From The How and When, An Authoritative reference reference guide to the origin, use and classification of the world’s choicest vintages and spirits by Hyman Gale and Gerald F. Marco. The Marco name is of a Chicago family that were involved in all aspects of the liquor business and ran Marco’s Bar [...] Read more →

Pickled Eels

Vintage woodcut illustration of a Eel

 

This dish is a favorite in Northern Europe, from the British Isles to Sweden.

Clean and skin the eels and cut them into pieces about 3/4-inch thick. Wash and drain the pieces, then dredge in fine salt and allow to stand from 30 [...] Read more →

Of Decorated Furniture

DECORATED or “sumptuous” furniture is not merely furniture that is expensive to buy, but that which has been elaborated with much thought, knowledge, and skill. Such furniture cannot be cheap, certainly, but the real cost of it is sometimes borne by the artist who produces rather than by the man who may [...] Read more →

How to Distinguish Fishes

 

Sept. 3, 1898. Forest and Stream Pg. 188-189

How to Distinguish Fishes.

BY FRED MATHER. The average angler knows by sight all the fish which he captures, but ask him to describe one and he is puzzled, and will get off on the color of the fish, which is [...] Read more →

Country House Christmas Pudding

Country House Christmas Pudding

Ingredients

1 cup Christian Bros Brandy ½ cup Myer’s Dark Rum ½ cup Jim Beam Whiskey 1 cup currants 1 cup sultana raisins 1 cup pitted prunes finely chopped 1 med. apple peeled and grated ½ cup chopped dried apricots ½ cup candied orange peel finely chopped 1 ¼ cup [...] Read more →

Curing Diabetes With an Old Malaria Formula

For years in the West African nation of Ghana medicine men have used a root and leaves from a plant called nibima(Cryptolepis sanguinolenta) to kill the Plasmodium parasite transmitted through a female mosquito’s bite that is the root cause of malaria. A thousand miles away in India, a similar(same) plant [...] Read more →

Commercial Fried Fish Cake Recipe

Dried Norwegian Salt Cod

Fried fish cakes are sold rather widely in delicatessens and at prepared food counters of department stores in the Atlantic coastal area. This product has possibilities for other sections of the country.

Ingredients:

Home Top of [...] Read more →

English Fig Wine

Take the large blue figs when pretty ripe, and steep them in white wine, having made some slits in them, that they may swell and gather in the substance of the wine.

Then slice some other figs and let them simmer over a fire in water until they are reduced [...] Read more →

Zulu Yawl

Dec. 10, 1898 Forest and Stream Pg. 477-479

Zulu.

The little ship shown in the accompanying plans needs no description, as she speaks for herself, a handsome and shipshape craft that a man may own for years without any fear that she will go to pieces [...] Read more →

Clairvoyance – Methods of Development

CLAIRVOYANCE

by C. W. Leadbeater

Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House

[1899]

CHAPTER IX – METHODS OF DEVELOPMENT

When a men becomes convinced of the reality of the valuable power of clairvoyance, his first question usually is, “How can [...] Read more →

Life Among the Thugee

The existence of large bodies of men having no other means of subsistence than those afforded by plunder, is, in all countries, too common to excite surprise; and, unhappily, organized bands of assassins are not peculiar to India! The associations of murderers known by the name of Thugs present, however, [...] Read more →

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. “Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said. Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. Home Top of [...] Read more →

The Age of Chivalry

KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS

On the decline of the Roman power, about five centuries after Christ, the countries of Northern Europe were left almost destitute of a national government. Numerous chiefs, more or less powerful, held local sway, as far as each could enforce his dominion, and occasionally those [...] Read more →

Carpet Cleaner Formulae

The Ardabil Carpet – Made in the town of Ardabil in north-west Iran, the burial place of Shaykh Safi al-Din Ardabili, who died in 1334. The Shaykh was a Sufi leader, ancestor of Shah Ismail, founder of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1722). While the exact origins of the carpet are unclear, it’s believed to have [...] Read more →

A Cure for Distemper in Dogs

 

The following cure was found written on a front flyleaf in an 1811 3rd Ed. copy of The Sportsman’s Guide or Sportsman’s Companion: Containing Every Possible Instruction for the Juvenille Shooter, Together with Information Necessary for the Experienced Sportsman by B. Thomas.

 

Transcript:

Vaccinate your dogs when young [...] Read more →

JP Morgan’s Digital Currency Patent Application

J.P. Morgan Patent #8,452,703

Method and system for processing internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network.

Abstract

Embodiments of the invention include a method and system for conducting financial transactions over a payment network. The method may include associating a payment address of an account [...] Read more →

The Field of the Cloth of Gold

Reprint from the Royal Collection Trust Website

The meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I, known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, took place between 7 to 24 June 1520 in a valley subsequently called the Val d’Or, near Guisnes to the south of Calais. The [...] Read more →

The Master of Hounds

Photo Caption: The Marquis of Zetland, KC, PC – otherwise known as Lawrence Dundas Son of: John Charles Dundas and: Margaret Matilda Talbot born: Friday 16 August 1844 died: Monday 11 March 1929 at Aske Hall Occupation: M.P. for Richmond Viceroy of Ireland Vice Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Lord – in – Waiting [...] Read more →

The Fowling Piece – Part I

THE FOWLING PIECE, from the Shooter’s Guide by B. Thomas – 1811.

I AM perfectly aware that a large volume might be written on this subject; but, as my intention is to give only such information and instruction as is necessary for the sportsman, I shall forbear introducing any extraneous [...] Read more →

A Summer Memory

 

Here, where these low lush meadows lie, We wandered in the summer weather, When earth and air and arching sky, Blazed grandly, goldenly together.

And oft, in that same summertime, We sought and roamed these self-same meadows, When evening brought the curfew chime, And peopled field and fold with shadows.

I mind me [...] Read more →

Fly Casting Instructions

It is a pity that the traditions and literature in praise of fly fishing have unconsciously hampered instead of expanded this graceful, effective sport. Many a sportsman has been anxious to share its joys, but appalled by the rapture of expression in describing its countless thrills and niceties he has been literally [...] Read more →

Here’s Many a Year to You

” Here’s many a year to you ! Sportsmen who’ve ridden life straight. Here’s all good cheer to you ! Luck to you early and late.

Here’s to the best of you ! You with the blood and the nerve. Here’s to the rest of you ! What of a weak moment’s swerve ? [...] Read more →

Shooting in Wet Weather

 

Reprint from The Sportsman’s Cabinet and Town and Country Magazine, Vol I. Dec. 1832, Pg. 94-95

To the Editor of the Cabinet.

SIR,

Possessing that anxious feeling so common among shooters on the near approach of the 12th of August, I honestly confess I was not able [...] Read more →

The Hoochie Coochie Hex

From Dr. Marvel’s 1929 book entitled Hoodoo for the Common Man, we find his infamous Hoochie Coochie Hex.

What follows is a verbatim transcription of the text:

The Hoochie Coochie Hex should not be used in conjunction with any other Hexes. This can lead to [...] Read more →

Tuna and Tarpon

July, 16, l898 Forest and Stream Pg. 48

Tuna and Tarpon.

New York, July 1.—Editor Forest and Stream: If any angler still denies the justice of my claim, as made in my article in your issue of July 2, that “the tuna is the grandest game [...] Read more →

Abingdon, Berkshire in the Year of 1880

St.Helen’s on the Thames, photo by Momit

 

From a Dictionary of the Thames from Oxford to the Nore. 1880 by Charles Dickens

Abingdon, Berkshire, on the right bank, from London 103 3/4miles, from Oxford 7 3/4 miles. A station on the Great Western Railway, from Paddington 60 miles. The time occupied [...] Read more →

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika

THE HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA

Translated into English by PANCHAM SINH

Panini Office, Allahabad [1914]

INTRODUCTION.

There exists at present a good deal of misconception with regard to the practices of the Haṭha Yoga. People easily believe in the stories told by those who themselves [...] Read more →

What’s the Matter?

A rhetorical question? Genuine concern?

In this essay we are examining another form of matter otherwise known as national literary matters, the three most important of which being the Matter of Rome, Matter of France, and the Matter of England.

Our focus shall be on the Matter of England or [...] Read more →

King Arthur Legends, Myths, and Maidens

King Arthur, Legends, Myths & Maidens is a massive book of Arthurian legends. This limited edition paperback was just released on Barnes and Noble at a price of $139.00. Although is may seem a bit on the high side, it may prove to be well worth its price as there are only [...] Read more →