Primary menu

You are here

Places - St Helen's churchyard

History

(see long history)

The parish church of St Helen, its churchyard and the three sets of almshouses which surround it lie close to the Thames, not far from its confluence with the Ock. Together, they form one of the most important and attractive groups of historic buildings in Abingdon.

The churchyard surrounds the church on its north, west and south sides. On the east, the church backs directly onto the street. The Abbey claimed a monopoly of burial rights and fees in the town (a source of considerable friction with the townspeople) and it is unclear how much the churchyard was used for burial in the medieval period. After the dissolution of the Abbey in 1538, burials did take place there until the Spring Road cemetery was opened in 1859. Some tombstones remain.

The northern part of the churchyard was occupied by houses until 1815. A small square brick building in the churchyard, just south of the church, is a ‘blowing house’ for the organ.

© AAAHS and contributors 2013

(see short history)

The parish church of St Helen, its churchyard and the three sets of almshouses which surround it lie close to the Thames, not far from its confluence with the Ock. Together, they form one of the most important and attractive groups of historic buildings in Abingdon.

The churchyard surrounds the church on its north, west and south sides. On the east, the church backs directly onto the street. The Abbey claimed a monopoly of burial rights and fees in the town (a source of considerable friction with the townspeople) and it is unclear how much the churchyard was used for burial in the medieval period. After the dissolution of the Abbey in 1538, burials did take place there until the Spring Road cemetery was opened in 1859. Some tombstones remain.

The northern part of the churchyard was occupied by houses until 1815. A small square brick building in the churchyard, just south of the church, is a ‘blowing house’ for the organ.

Three sets of almshouses ring the churchyard, all of them facing towards the church, and all of them still in use. Twitty’s Almshouses are to the north, Long Alley to the west and Brick Alley to the south. They are administered by the local charity of Christ’s Hospital, which was chartered in 1553 and replaced a much earlier guild of townsmen and women dedicated to the Holy Cross, which is connected in Christian tradition with St Helen. The group as a whole – church, churchyard and almshouses – illustrates very clearly the long-standing links between religion, charity and care for the old in Abingdon.

See Glossary for explanations of technical terms.

© AAAHS and contributors 2013

Printer Friendly and PDF

Additional Details

Back to Top