Abingdon Abbey

The first abbey at Abingdon was founded in 675 AD by Hean and Cilla, nephew and niece of Cissa, a Saxon sub-King o f Wessex. That abbey, built to hold 12 Benedictine monks, was sacked by the Vikings in the reign of King Alfred.

St Nicholas church and Abbey gateway

In 954 Abingdon Abbey was re-founded on its present site by by the Saxon King, Edred. The Benedictine community grew in numbers, and it was endowed with manors in several English counties. Thirty were in Berkshire and included the manor Whistley, assessed in the Domesday Survey as having 7 hides, land for 12 ploughs, 16 villagers and 1 smallholder with 9 ploughs, a mill, meadow, woodland for 50 pigs and a fishery. In 1084 William I visited Abingdon and left his son, Henry, there to be taught by the monks.

Long Gallery (left) and 'Checker' (exchequer) buildings, Abingdon Abbey

The abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII on February 23 1539 when its was valued annually from £1876 to £2042.  Thomas, the Abbot, and 24 monks received pensions. Two years later the King granted the manor of Whistley to Richard Ward of Walthan St Lawrence.

The church and many of the other abbey buildings have disappeared. The mainly 15th century gatehouse, and the 13th and 14th century group of buildings which include the bake-house, exchequer, granary and long gallery have survived.


Granary and exchequer buildings, Abingdon Abbey

References in main text:

         I   Early Forest (4)
        II   Going to Church (6)
       III   The Bounds (3)
      IV   Visitations (2)
       V   The Manors (1)
      VI   The Royal Village (2)
    XIII   New Farmland (1)