Abingdon Area Archaeological and Historical Society


The Local History Group (LHG)

35 Ock Street pictureThe Local History Group provides a forum and meeting point for members with a particular interest in the local history of Abingdon and its region. 

There are three meetings during the year, starting in February, with subsequent meetings in May, and October. At each meeting, one or two members give short presentations on their current research, which are discussed. Tea and coffee are provided, and there is usually ample opportunity for socialising and informal talk on historical subjects. 

There are also sub-groups which form from time to time for specific purposes. One that is currently active is the Abingdon Buildings and People group, which manages the Abingdon historical website, http://www.abingdon.gov.uk/partners/history

Meetings are (usually) on Tuesday evenings, 7.45 pm, in the Pendarvis room at 35 Ock Street OX14 5AG. 

We welcome anyone with a question about Abingdon local history as we usually have a knowledgeable audience who can answer them. There is also the opportunity to share anything you have done about Abingdon or the surrounding area with those present.

Please let me know so that I can make sure we allocate you some time.

 All AAAHS Members and guests are welcome. 

Picture © M Brod 2013 


Next Local History Group (LHG) meeting: 

The LHG meetings for 2020 will be on the following dates:
  • Tuesday 19th May 2020 (Cancelled)
  • Tuesday 20th October 2020
Do make a note of these dates. More information will be posted when available.

Meetings start at 7.45 in the Pendarvis Room at 35 Ock Street, Abingdon OX 14 5AG. 

For security reasons the front door of 35 Ock Street is kept locked, so ring the bell and you will be let in. Go up the stairs and the Pendarvis Room is on your left.

For more information contact John Foreman,  at local@aaahs.org.uk

AAAHS Local History Group Convenor


Previous Local History Group Meetings

Meeting held on Tuesday 18 February 2020

Meeting held on Thursday 30 May 2019

John Foreman writes:  So far we have Manfred and Jessica Brod in perhaps their final attendance here. Manfred will be rounding off some of his research. To quote: “the significance of the Berkshire nabobs in the 1780s and 90s.” Nabobs is an interesting word that we do not hear much nowadays https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/nabob. Also the intriguing “the connection between a couple of political meetings at the Abingdon Guildhall in 1780 and the future sex-life of the future George IV”!

Jessica  Brod will introduce a short film made by Michael Harrison about the development of the Abingdon shopping precinct starting in the 1960s. She also has two short presentations, one about an annotated Abingdon map and the other about whitebait.
I have some old slides to show and possibly some film if I can get it sorted in time.
David  Clark will be doing a presentation on an old map of the Caldecott estate dating from before the house was built. Some of us have seen the map at the museum and it is very interesting.
As you have seen we have a lot to talk about but more is always welcome. Do come and bring your curiosity!

Meeting held on Tuesday 19th February 2019. 

John Foreman writes: We  have two confirmed presenters: Roger Thomas will be talking about ‘Aspects of the early topography of Abingdon’ I believe this will be about what Abingdon looked like in the late Saxon period, but I might be wrong. We also have Manfred Brod talking about ‘Abingdon politics from the 18C.’ We have learnt from his previous presentations around this subject a little of the bribery and shady dealings that have laid the foundation for politics today.
I do hope we have more to talk about and that is down to you bringing along anything you have been working on or just want to know more about.

Meeting held on Tuesday 30th October 2018.

Manfred Brod talked about the Abingdon food riots of the 18th century, which were quite lively. Jackie Smith spoke about 'Daughters of the Empire' and the Norman (family)  and Sandys connections. John Foreman asked why the Farringdon Road is where it is and not on the route we would go today. This evoked many ingenious theories. Bob Frampton talked entertainingly on the history of the Abingdon Fair, fairs in general and the influence of technology on their development.





Outings Reports


The 1940 'Red-Stop Line'. By John Rawling

The County Museum store. By Bob Woodings

 Abingdon School ( 4 July 2017). By Paul Smith

The Archaeology of North Abingdon. By Andrew Steele

Northcourt. By Genefer Clark

Victorian Abingdon. By Stuart Hughes

Appleton. By Michael Bloom

Bampton. By Mary Storrs

Coventry. By Elsa Mayer

The Dorchester Dig. By Andrew Steele

The Dorchester excavations. By John Rawling

Egrove and Kennington. By Jill Lewis

The Thames, Kennington to Sandford. By Jenny Devanney

Longworth. By Mary Storrs

The excavations at Marcham/Frilford. By Jenny Devanney

The excavation at Marcham/Frilford. By Miriam James

Marlow. By Bryan Cozens

Ashmolean tour. By Michael Bloom

The Bate Collection. By Anne Smithson

Walking tour of Oxford. By Bob Woodings

Oxford's Jewish Quarter. By Carol Hughes

A visit to Brasenose College. By Penny de Bernhardt Cookson

Christ Church, Oxford. By Roger Gelder

Oriel College. By Andrew Steele

 Somerville College, Oxford (21 June 2017). By Wendy Robbins

Unseen Oxford. By John Rawling

Radley College. By Stuart Hughes

Exploring Lower Radley. By John Foreman

The Bayeux Tapestry copy at Reading. By Suzette Woodhead

Steventon. By John Rawling

 Sunningwell Village (22 May 2017). By Andrew Steele

Wilts and Berks canal. By Sybille Rushbridge


 Abingdon Buildings and People (ABP)

Abingdon Buildings and People is the name of the History Section of the Abingdon Town Council website. It was created and is managed by a group of AAAHS members for the Council and involves original research and writing, mostly by the group but also by outside specialists. Since its start in 2013 it has expanded into a comprehensive resource for anyone interested in Abingdon's heritage and history. These pages present the history of the town through short articles on individual buildings and important figures from Abingdon's past. It is expected to reach 200 articles in 2020. Find it on http://www.abingdon.gov.uk/partners/history

Heritage Open Days (HOD) will run  from 11 - 20 September 2020.

As part of HOD, ABP is creating six town walks that will take you to 43 Buildings that you can look up on the Town Council website. Individual articles on Buildings will also give links to articles on people associated with them.

Here is a list of the walks that are being created:

          1.  Abingdon Bridge and Bridge Street
          2. The Guildhall and the Abbey
          3.  East St Helen Street and St Helen's Wharf
          4. St Helen's Church Yard and St Helen's Street
          5. Our Lady and St Edmund's, Stert Street and High Street (Test Version) 
              1. Barton Manor (Test Audio Version)
          6. The Square and Ock Street




The Society has several Outings during the year. Details will appear here when the 2020 Outings have been arranged, Covid-19 permitting.

Abingdon Archaeology @ 50 


HLF Project Picture

Abingdon claims to be England’s oldest continuously inhabited town. This claim is based on archaeology, but very little information about this is available to the public. Many Abingdon people live on housing estates where nationally important excavations have taken place, but are completely unaware of this.

Since 1968, the Abingdon Area Archaeological & Historical Society (AAAHS) has carried out over a hundred different archaeological projects in and around Abingdon. Some have produced very important results. However, much has not been published, and the records and finds are of this work are scattered (and, in some cases, at risk of loss). Information about Abingdon’s rich and important archaeology is not easily accessible to residents or visitors.

The Society has been very fortunate, therefore, in its 50thanniversary year, to be awarded a grant of £24,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to put the archives of our past archaeological projects in order and to make information about the archaeology of Abingdon more accessible.

The project is being carried out in partnership with Oxford Archaeology and Oxfordshire County Council’s Archaeology Service. The aims of the project are:

(1)        to create a comprehensive list and archive for all the archaeological projects which the Society has carried out. This will include adding an entry for each project to the Oxfordshire County Historic Environment Record (HER), so that all the results of the Society’s work are public accessible (and also available to influence future planning decisions).

(2)        to create an interactive online map of the archaeology of Abingdon, to enable people to discover what has been found (including on their own housing estates).

(3)        to publish a short and accessible book on to the archaeology of Abingdon.

(4)        to promote the archaeology of Abingdon to the public through a variety of events. We have already mounted an exhibition in Abingdon Museum (July-September 2018), a day of talks (30 June 2018) and a weekend of archaeological activities for children at the Museum (July 2018). Further events will take place over the life of the project.

The project will be done mainly by volunteers (with some professional advice, support and training from staff in Oxford Archaeology). If you would like to volunteer on the project, and get some hands-on experience of dealing with archaeological finds and archives from a wide range of sites, please contact Roger Thomas.


If you have any queries about the project, please contact us via 50@aaahs.org.uk. We will post periodic updates about the project here as work progresses. Some photographs of the work in progress can be found at this link www.noirplus.com



Skull compressed for website

Digging Abingdon's Past


 Abingdon claims to be the oldest continuously-inhabited town in England, with defences that date back to the Iron Age. The AAAHS has carried out numerous excavations in and around Abingdon, and members participate in digs elsewhere.


The main focus of current interest is a small cemetery with at least twenty burials found in the garden of a house in North Abingdon, far from any church or chapel or from the approach roads to the town. Radio-carbon dating suggests that the bones are of the 16th or 17th centuries, a time when burials outside a churchyard are uncommon. They may be the results of an epidemic, or of an otherwise unrecorded Civil War skirmish. Archive research is ongoing.


For further information, or if you want to become involved, please contact diggers@aaahs.org.uk.


Your use of this website and the content of this website is at your sole risk. You should be aware that any material and/or data downloaded or otherwise obtained through your use of this website is done at your own discretion and risk. The information contained on this website is provided by the AAAHS. in good faith on an "as is" and "as available" basis. The information is believed to be accurate and current at the date the information was placed on this website. 

Neither AAAHS, nor any of its members makes any representation or warranty as to the reliability, accuracy or completeness of the information contained on this website and none of them accept any responsibility arising in any way for errors in, or omissions from, the information contained on this website. Although every care has been taken in presenting this information some of it may be incorrect or incomplete, hence the creator of this website and/or any researcher or writer mentioned in it disclaim any liability in relation to the information, errors or omissions contained herein. 

Any person intending to use or rely on this information should first confirm it for themselves from other sources. Nevertheless any corrections or additional information will be most welcome.


The AAAHS on-line research archive 

These archive pages link to AAAHS material not published elsewhere and which is of continuing interest. 

Society Members also publish articles on archaeology and local history in the AAAHS Newsletters.
These are available on the Newsletters page.

There are also sets of research notes and/or photographs produced for specific projects, notably the 'Lost Abbey' project of 2009-12 which culminated in an exhibition and a book on Abingdon Abbey by our Archaeological Advisor, Tim Allen. 

The society also has a substantial archive of documents and artefacts. These are under the care of its archivist who can be contacted though the Contacts page.


Most of this material is downloadable. Please note that the copyright belongs to individual authors and/or the AAAHS. You may not make any commercial use of it without permission. You may cite it or publish brief excerpts so long as the source is acknowledged. References should take the form Author's name if stated and otherwise Abingdon Area Arch. and Hist. Society, page URL from which downloaded, (accessed [date of access]).



Online Archaeological Resources

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) team in York has used the current lull in its work programme to put together an Archaeology Resources Hub. There's an eclectic mixture of stuff on there, so you may well find something to take your interest while stuck indoors over the next few weeks/months.

There's also a list on there of archaeological sites across the UK that are usually open to the public and which have launched survival appeals to help them get through the current crisis. There's a very real danger that some might be forced to close permanently without the money from gate receipts that they usually rely upon. 


Other AAAHS Websites

The Abingdon Buildings & People website now has almost 150 articles on Abingdon's historic streets and buildings, its families and people. The project is ongoing, and would welcome additional members. 

The Ock Street Heritage Project is no longer active, but much of its output is available online.

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/aaahs/info is a group site for discussion of anything within the AAAHS field of interest. You don't have to be a member to join. If you have a question about Abingdon's history or archaeology, an opinion to air or an announcement to make, this is the place.


Other Abingdon interest

The Abingdon town website - information, organisations, events

Abingdon County Hall Museum 

The Abingdon Blog - a long-running chronicle of local happenings

Abingdon Walks - walks, information and picture gallery

Friends of Abingdon - civic society

Abingdon Roll of Honour - Abingdon men in the Great War

Abingdon Roll of Honour - searchable

The Lost Abbey Education Pack

Charters of Abingdon Abbey in the time of Faritius - what you get when you are obstetrician to the king's wife and mistresses!

Oxfordshire Historian and writer Julie Ann Godson covers the Abingdon area. She has a FaceBook page and a website.

Abingdon and surrounding areas facts and history is an interesting FaceBook page


Related societies in and around Abingdon

Abingdon Museum Friends

Didcot and District Archaeological and Historical Society (DDAHS)

Radley History Club

Sutton Courtenay Local History Society

Marcham Society

Berkshire Family History Society (VoWH Branch)


 Regional Societies

Berkshire Local History Association

The Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society (TWHAS)

Oxfordshire Buildings Record

Oxfordshire Local History Association

South Midlands Archaeology