Looking up at the high spire of St Helen's against a blue sky

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Visit St Helen's Church & Almshouses

Five hundred years of "Big Society"

St Helen’s Church spire is a familiar sight from the river and beneath it is an interesting church of unusual shape, the result of the successive generations of townsfolk keen to give their church some status by adding another nave, and then another...until the floorplan became as wide as it is long. The panorama of stained glass windows is lovely but of less importance than the very rare ceiling paintings. In 1327 this was the rallying point when town traders, aided by Oxford students, staged a riot which saw the monastery burned and blood spilled in the Abbey itself. But the energy of the townsfolk was just as often directed towards positive actions to keep their town thriving and the less fortunate cared for.

For more detailed historical information about the church click here to go through to our history section.

The St Helen’s Almshouses are located in the churchyard and are remarkably still lived in today and managed by a 500 year old society Christ's Hospital of Abingdon who continue to run the buildings for their original charitable purpose. The wooden carving and wall paintings on the building known as Long Alley are original. For more detailed historical information about the almshouses and churchyard, click here to go through to our history section. These are people's homes not available for viewing.

On East St Helen Street there are gardens open for quiet reflection at St Ethelwold House. Interpretation panels in the heritage area tell more of the town's fascinating past.

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