Abingdon Area Archaeological and Historical Society

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MG Apprentices

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High Street, Abingdon, ca 1910


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Ock Street Flooded, 1894


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The Causeway, 1909


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Abingdon Before Developments


Meetings Programme 2017-18  
Northcourt Centre
Welcome to our meetings page. You can see that our year runs from September through till June. All presentations (apart from the Local History Group) are usually held at the Northcourt Centre, Northcourt Rd. Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 1NS. at 7.45 pm. [See the image on the right and  MAP ]
Attendance for Members is free and visitors are welcome (suggested donation: £3.00). If you are interested in joining the society, please speak to any comittee member who will be identified by their badge.
There is on-site parking and dedicated disabled spaces. Refreshments are available on most evenings.
Please check this page for changes and updates.

Thursday 21 September 2017 [Please note this meeting starts at 7.30pm.]

The meeting will start with the AGM.This will be followed by the talk:

 Jackie Smith:  The Development of  Albert Park Albert Memorial

Albert Park, established on Conduit Field was described by John Betjeman as England's finest example of a Victorian suburb. The park itself, now with mature specimen trees and pleasant walk and views, dates from the 1860s. Shortly afterwards building plots were offered and soon the wealthy of Abingdon had villas built. Streets were built to access the area and these were filled with new houses that now make Albert Park probably the most desirable area to live in Abingdon. Jackie Smith will tell the story of the Park, street and houses that make this area such a local asset. (The image shows the Albert Memorial.)

Jackie Smith

 Jackie Smith has been an AAAHS member since September 1969 when she became interested in Abingdon's history, particularly in all aspects of the Albert Park area and 19th century Abingdon. She worked for about 17 years in the Centre for Oxfordshire Studies now the Oxfordshire History Centre. She has been Hon Archivist to Abingdon Town Council since 1995 and to Christ's Hospital since 2008. She has co-authored three books, one on Abingdon pubs and two on Christ's Hospital and currently contributes monthly articles to The Herald. 


Thursday 19th October 2017

Michael Heaney: Percy Manning, the extraordinary antiquary of Oxfordshire (with a bit of Berkshire)Michael Heaney image

Percy Manning (1870-1917) was an extraordinary collector of all things Oxfordshire; his diverse interests ranged from archaeology and local buildings history to cricket and Morris dancing. Manning was interested in all periods of history and prehistory, collecting stone age tools, Roman coins, medieval tiles, and relics of ways of life that were disappearing in his own day, such as decorated police truncheons and local pottery.  He moved beyond material objects to uncover and document superstitions, folklore and customs. Although he was working to the old county boundaries, there is also a considerable amount of material relating to Berkshire hidden in the collections. The talk will look at his life and work and take a special look at the Berkshire elements.
Michael Heaney
Michael Heaney is a well-known researcher into folk music and folklore who has published widely on the subject. He combines this with extensive knowledge of the collections in the Bodleian Library where he spent his professional career. He is a Editor of and chief contributor to the book Percy Manning: The Man Who Collected Oxfordshire. Folk Music Journal (2017) and curated the centenary display on Manning at the Bodleian Library.
Thursday 16th November 2017

Mike Hurst: Tracks to Trenches. Ambulances and Military Transport Trains in WW1WW1 Railway Red Cross

This will be an affecting account of railway activities in the South of England and in France during the Great War. Railways permitted the mass movements of munitions, equipment and men and the harrowing resulting casualties, many of whom were taken through the Thames Valley. As well as the many technical innovations introduced by the GWR they were the pioneer of ambulance trains. This talk will include the transport and care of the wounded back to Blighty with some focus on South Oxfordshire and West Berkshire. [Image shows a WW1 Railway Red Cross Train]
Mike Hurst
Mike Hurst trained as a microbiologist, but has always been interested in history, particularly transport and industrial history. He helps run Goring Gap Local History Society and, since moving to Goring in 2004, has carried out original research on various aspects of the local area and its past inhabitants. 
He is a volunteer at Sir William McAlpine's private railway at Fawley Hill near Henley, runs the Goring Gap Transport History Group and acts as a Schools Guide, Museum Steward and Guard at Didcot Railway Centre.
Thursday 7th December 2017  (Please note change of date)
Tim Healey: A 17th Century ChristmasLord of misrule
An entertaining romp through Yuletide celebrations at the time of the English Civil War and Restoration. Wassailing rites, frost fairs, Twelfth Night customs - and the Puritan backlash against Christmas itself: all encompassed with a wealth of colourful PowerPoint images. [Image shows none other than The Lord of Misrule himself]
Tim Healey picture
Tim Healey is a freelance writer and broadcaster. A frequent contributor to the Oxford Times colour magazine Limited Edition, he has also presented many programmes on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, chiefly on heritage themes and the popular music of the past.  Tim is also director of the 17th-century costume band the Oxford Waits with whom he appears in period attire.


 Thursday 18th January 2018

Hubert Zawadzki: The Land of the White Eagle: the Story of Poland
Polish eagle
The talk will provide a historical background to the largest of the recent accession states to the European Union. Since 2004 Britain has become the home of a large Polish community which is currently estimated as exceeding 800,000 people, and Polish is currently the second most widely spoken language in the country. It is hoped that the talk will help in a better understanding of who the Poles are and what factors have shaped their national identity, such as geography and frontiers, language and religion, Poland's multi-ethnic past and political traditions, foreign domination in the 19th century, and the impact of war and totalitarian rule in the 20th century, ending with some reflections on events since 1989. [Image shows the Polish Eagle]
Hubert Zawadzki pic
Dr. Hubert Zawadzki read Modern History at Keble College, Oxford, before obtaining a doctorate at Wolfson College, Oxford where he was also subsequently a Junior Research Fellow. He taught history at Abingdon School for thirty years while continuing with his academic interests in Poland and Eastern Europe. He is the author of  A Man of Honour: Adam Czartoryski as a Statesman of Russia and Poland, 1795-1831 (Oxford, 1993), and co-author (with Jerzy Lukowski) of A Concise History of Poland (Cambridge, 1st edn. 2001; 2nd edn. 2006). He is currently preparing his mother's memoirs for publication.
 Thursday 15th February 2018

Various Presenters: Old images of Abingdon. Various images and what they show.Old Anchor E. Duncan

The 2018 event will follow the same template as in previous years, with volinteer speakers choosing their own image to talk about.
We shall have the cream of Abingdon’s history experts (and possibly John Foreman) for this meeting on the 15th. In no particular order: Anne Smithson, Judy White, Jackie Smith, Jessica Brod, Manfred Brod, and John Foreman will give short presentations based around an image or images that have local connections.  The presentations will be less formal and more like those which take place at the Local History Group that will be on the 20th of this month.
Do come along to one or both
Image shows the Old Anchor Inn by E. Duncan


Thursday 15th March 2018
Bryan Brown:  A Celebration of the Life of John Henry Brookes (1891 - 1975): The man who inspired a University
All members of The Friends of Abingdon Civic Society are invited to attend as guests of AAAHS.
John H Brooks
Bryan Brown the author of the recently published biography  John Henry Brookes: The man who inspired a University, will talk about the modern founder of Oxford Brookes University. Brookes developed the first further educational institution for the working people of Oxford and it was not an easy path. The Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s, through World War Two and its deprived aftermath until the glimmer of recovery in the 1950s, was the most challenging of contexts. However his achievement is perhaps unparalleled in British education. Bryan will talk about his character and influences, his Oxford years, his work as an artist/craftsman/author and his outstanding legacy.
Bryan Brown
Bryan Brown is closely associated with John Henry Brookes. He was born in Oxford, attended Cheney School which was founded by Brookes and similarly trained as a designer. Bryan practised design and helped to forge the design consultancy sector whilst Brookes focussed on education. In 1992 when Oxford Polytechnic became a university, he recommended the name and developed the brand identity for Oxford Brookes University. Bryan is an Honorary Fellow and Doctor of the University and has led a campaign to reassert John Henry Brookes fading legacy. Bryan also unearthed the photographic work of the Oxford photographer Henry Taunt and published his college thesis as a fully illustrated biography in the 1970s. He has lived in Abingdon for over 40 years and after running his company from the town centre is now very engaged in Abingdon civic and community life and is the current chairman of The Friends of Abingdon Civic Society.


 Thursday 19th  April 2018 

The 2018 Lambrick Lecture

 The Lambrick Lecture is sponsored by George Lambrick in memory of his mother, Gabrielle Lambrick.

George is an archaeologist and member of our society.

Mrs Gabrielle Lambrick was a highly respected medieval historian who died in 1968. She did a lot of work on Abingdon Abbey. Most notably, she and C F Slade edited Two Cartularies of Abingdon Abbey, published in two volumes by the Oxford Historical Society in 1990-2. These are collections of legal and internal documents of the abbey. She contributed to a set of papers on 'The Early History of Abingdon, Berkshire, and its Abbey' in the journal Medieval History, Vol XII, 1968. She wrote a booklet for the Friends of Abingdon in 1966 on 'Business affairs at Abingdon Abbey in medieval times' describing the obedientary system and numerous other papers in the academic journals.

Richard Mayott

Manfred Brod.  Abingdon: Monastic Estate to Borough 

What was it like living in Abingdon as it became a self-governing community in the mid-16th century? What really changed? Who gained, and who lost? How did the new rulers legitimise their authority? How was Abingdon different from other towns being chartered about the same time? These questions cannot be fully answered, but Manfred has been looking hard at what the records and the physical remains can tell us. [Image of Richard Mayott]

Manfred Brod


Manfred Brod trained as a historian after retirement from paid work, obtaining a doctorate in English Local History. He specialises in the 16th and 17th centuries and in Abingdon and Berkshire in particular, and is author of two books and numerous published papers. He has been a member of AAAHS for many years, and has filled most of the administrative posts in the committee. He is currently convenor of the Abingdon Buildings and People website group which is part of the Society.



Thursday 17th May 2018
Jonathan Healey:  The People's Politics in Tudor  EnglandFive Wounds
The Tudor period saw major changes to church and state in England, but how did ordinary people react? Did they have a say in the way England was governed? Or were they simply trampled under the feet of a tyrannical monarchy. This talk looks at how local history can help us see the great changes of the sixteenth century through the eyes of ordinary people, and put them back at the heart of the story of the Tudor age. [Image shows the Pilgrimage of Grace Banner of the Five Wounds of Christ]

Jonathan Healey pic


 Jonathan Healey is Associate Professor in Social History at the University of Oxford's Department for Continuing Education. He writes about the history of ordinary people in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. His first book, The First Century of Welfare, about poor relief in Lancashire in the seventeenth century, was published in 2014.

Thursday 21st June 2018
50 years of AAAHS. A Social celebration
Saturday 30th June 2018
History Day.  An all day event with 5 speakers
Meetings Programme 2018 - 2019.   (Details will be added once arranged.)
Thursday 20th September 2018 AGM
Thursday 18th October 2018
Thursday 15th November 2018
Thursday 20th December 2018
Thursday 17th January 2019
Thursday 21st February 2019
Thursday 21st March 2019
Thursday 18th April 2019
Thursday 16th May 2019
Thursday 20th June 2019
Meetings Programme 2018-19  
Northcourt Centre
Welcome to our meetings page. You can see that our year runs from September through till June. All presentations (apart from the Local History Group) are usually held at the Northcourt Centre, Northcourt Rd. Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 1NS. at 7.45 pm. [See the image on the right and  MAP ]
Attendance for Members is free and visitors are welcome (suggested donation: £3.00). If you are interested in joining the society, please speak to any comittee member who will be identified by their badge.
There is on-site parking and dedicated disabled spaces. Refreshments are available on most evenings.
Please check this page for changes and updates.

 Thursday 20 September 2018 

Louis Davis 1887

 The meeting will start with the AGM. This will be followed by a talk by John Foreman on

"Louis Davis: The Last Pre-Raphaelite".

John Foreman 

 The image on the left is the speaker, John Foreman.

 The image on the right is Louis Davis, the artist.




  Thursday 18th October 2018

Victoria Bentata Azaz: Oxford in the History of Medicine from the 13th to the 21st Century.

From the award of the first DM in the 13th century, Oxford has been a hotbed of medical inquiry.  An extraordinary bevy of geniuses emerged in the 17th century to make ground-breaking discoveries about the nature of the human body and the natural world. In the 20th century, Oxford was at the forefront of medical research, with numerous Oxford scientists winning Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine for everything from Penicillin to the development of the Hepatitis B vaccine.  It remains one of the world's leading centres of medical research and teaching in the 21st century.  Come and learn about some of the personalities and ideas involved in Oxford's medicine over the past 800 years.
Victoria Bentata
Victoria Bentata Azaz is a graduate of Oxford University and a Green Badge Oxford tour guide. She gives tours on all sorts of subjects to all sorts of people. For more details, see  www.oxfordcitywalks.co.uk 
Thursday 15th November 2018

Michael Bloom: A History of  Georgia in the Caucasus MountaimsGergeti Trinity Church

This comprehensively illustrated talk will cover the history of Georgia from earliest times to the present day, and will include social and cultural as well as political aspects.
[Image shows Gergeti Trinity Church by courtesy of Lidia IIona]
Michael Bloom
Michael Bloom has been involved with Georgia since 1988 when he first visited it as part of the then Soviet Union. He began to study the choral folk music tradition of the country in 1995 and, through this interest, met his Georgian wife Eliso which cemented his involvement with the country. Regular visits followed during which he travelled all over Georgia and deepened his interest in all aspects of the country.
Thursday 20th December 2018  
Roger Thomas: 50 Years of Archaeology in Abingdon
Judy White:  A Display of 50 Finds from Abingdon’s Past
Abingdon Area Archaeological and Historical Society was founded 50 years ago. This event is our last event commemorating this anniversary with Roger presenting an overview of the various archaeological digs that the society members have done. Judy will be highlighting a particular find from 1984, the Islamic glass that was made around 1250 and found in Lombard Street.
It is fitting that Roger and Judy will be speaking as they have both been in our Society from the beginning.
We shall also have a number of archaeological finds on display as well as hot punch and mince pies.
Roger Thomas
Roger Thomas grew up in Abingdon. He was a founder member of the Society and went on to become a professional archaeologist, working for Historic England until 2017. He has lectured and published widely, including on the archaeology of Abingdon. He was Chairman of the Society between 2008 and 2014.



Thursday 17th January 2019

Dr Philip Kenrick: Romans in Algeria - a neglected but impressive heritage.
Military headquarters of the Legia III Augusta
Part of modern Algeria was the kingdom of Mauretania at the time of Christ, and its king Juba II was a close friend of the Roman emperor Augustus. Later, Roman provinces straddled North Africa and supplied Italy with grain, wine and oil; prosperous cities grew up, together with huge farm estates.
The visible remains were initially plundered by the invading French military in the 1830s, but were later treasured and excavated as evidence of a preceding 'advanced' European civilization. Since the independence of Algeria from France in 1962, little further work has been done, but the museum collections and the ruins are still stunning.
Image shows the Military Headquarters of the Legia III Augusta
Philip Kenrick
Philip Kenrick is a classical archaeologist who has worked in many parts of the Mediterranean world (and in Colchester) as a specialist in Hellenistic and Roman pottery. Much of his work has concerned Libya, for which he has written two archaeological guides. More recently, he has taken an interest in Algeria, for which another archaeological guide is in press.
Thursday 21st February 2019

Ruth Weinberg: Abingdon on Tap:  the Story of our Water.Well

 Abingdon managed with local water supplies until 1880, utilising its springs, streams and rivers. Although there had been at least one attempt to provide water to the richer inhabitants of the town, until the Council constructed its original reservoir and water main, there were no known attempts to create a public supply other than by providing stand pipes and wells. After 1880, there was a continuous search for more and more sources of clean water to meet an ever-growing demand, a search that did not really end until the formation of  Water Boards. This talk looks at the efforts made through the years to provide Abingdon with the clean water it needed.



After an adventurous life, Ruth came to Abingdon 14 years ago and found an interesting town with a great historical group. Together with the help of some of these lovely people, she built up a little local knowledge and started researching the town’s story. Out of all this came the idea of the Abingdon Buildings & People project, now with more than 100 articles and still going strong. This talk is built on one of those articles that Ruth spent several years wrestling with.


Thursday 21st March 2019

Silvia Joinson: Kings we never had.Prince Henry

A trip through a thousand years of English history  looking at various individuals who might have ruled; some interesting and controversial characters.

Would things have been different if they had come to the throne?

The image shows Prince Henry.

Silvia Joinson


Silvia is a retired secondary school history teacher who still enjoys exploring her  subject. She has lived in the area since childhood - the last 55 years in Abingdon.




Thursday 18th  April 2019

The Lambrick Lecture


George Speake:  Helmets and Headaches: Reconstructing the Staffordshire Hoard Helmet.


Thursday 16th May 2019
Lesley Best and a Wulfheodenas: House of Wessex Project.HOW
In 2016, the remains of an important Anglo-Saxon building were discovered on Sylva Foundation land at the Sylva Wood Centre at Long Wittenham. Working with teams of volunteers we will accurately reconstruct the Anglo-Saxon building, on its original footprint, using treewrighting techniques, tools and materials faithful to the 7th Century. With a living history society, the Wulfheodenas, we will hold public open days at the site.

 Thursday 20th June 2019
Members' Evening