Inner Town Walk (Old Abbey Walk)

This is not intended to a complete step by step guide to the walk that leads you by the hand, but rather to enhance your walk by highlighting local history, views and curios. Some of these items may indeed tempt you to stray off your route so keep a good map at hand!

Start: Abingdon Market Square

In the corner of the Market Square is an archway passage to a pedestrian crossing across Stert St. Turn right until you are in front of the Abbey Gateway (adjacent to St Nicolas)

The Plaque is set on the wall of the former Roysse’s School ancient precursor to Abingdon School. The plaque faces onto a small garden, but this was once a court, entered via Roysse's gate. This part of Bridge St was once known as Butchers Row. A row of shops made the street much narrower, these have all been demolished to make way for the motor car.

A bit further down, the cobbled courtyard in the Crown and Thistle Inn restaurant and hotel (former coaching Inn).

Continuing down Bridge street we get to Scotts Place, but who was Scott?, opposite the recently closed 'Berkshire' County Police Station.

Across the road we see the former Berkshire County Prison built by and for Napoleonic Prisoners

We turn left into short Thames St, at the end we see the picturesque mill now Upper Reaches Hotel. The mill only closed in the 1960’s. The hotel car park was once the site of a not very pretty carpet factory whose name was an anagram of Riverside something like Everidis.

The Mill Wheel is still to be seen inside the Upper Reaches Hotel. At the end of Thames St, be sure to look into the mill stream

The Mill Stream

Now pass through our curious 'Slype' passage into Checker Walk

Historical note: A narrow mediaeval passageway, known as a slype, issues into to a paved court by the Checker Hall. In monastic times this was the granary and connected with the mill

Situated by the Millstream in Thames Street the buildings are the Bakehouse, Checker Hall, Checker and Long Gallery. Milling and baking continued here long after the dissolution, and over the centuries the buildings would be put to other uses; for example as a brewery, and as a bridewell or house of correction

Look up at a glorious bit of roofery all chimneys, angles and buttresses. The Long Barn is irregularly open with a small admission fee.

Checker Walk there is something slightly lost and forgotten about this street. Up ahead you see can the wall of Abbey Grounds.

Checkers Walk, note the curious wedge shape of this marvelous house. You will be turning right

No these are not the ruins of the Great Abbey but rather a Victorian folly

Proceed down the land and on the right you will see Cosenors House on Mill Island.

You are now in Abbey car-park looking back up Mill Stream to the Mill and across to Cosenor House on Mill Island

In summer this area is full of families and children playing in the water feature. A view of the Thames. There is also a modern play area, mini-golf, tennis and a pitch and putt golf course. There may be an open outdoor pool depending on funding.

Now turn into the Abbey Grounds. Note the recently restored lake feature. An ideal picnic spot

Now you have to find two cross-plaques in the grassy area. These mark the position of the fonts of the original Saxon church and the lost Norman Abbey

The Norman Cross is nearest to the lake feature, as it enclosed the site of the earlier Saxon Church

Here is the Saxon Cross.

The foundations of the buildings have been excavated and are known.

But there is sadly no authenticated drawing of the St Mary's Abbey itself

It was said to resemble Well's Cathedral

Try to imagine that you are inside the cathedral as best you can

Now turning back to the town centre. We see Victoria expelled from the Market Square, because she was in the way of the market traders!!

Old Abbey House now in view

(Front of Old Abbey House) Victorian epigram: "Through this wide open gate, none come too early; none returns too late" this is intended to be an welcoming invitation to visitors

The Abingdon Tourist Information point is to be found inside the entrance

Now peer through the Abbey Gateway (Adjacent to St Nicolas Church).

Do look up to admire the ceiling.

Also think on the prisoners held in the arch who though they had a remarkable view, were kept in the most miserable circumstances

Now one last thing, discover the buried River Stert. Listen for water running under the drain cover. See the shape of the culvert in the stone wall opposite.

Back to the Town Centre, why not visit one of our excellent restaurants or coffee shops.We also have many specialist shops.

© 2006