Abingdon

Abingdon was occupied in prehistoric times by settlers of the Bronze and Iron ages. It was a flourishing town in the Roman period, which in turn gave way to a Saxon settlement. The earliest documents tell of a hamlet called Sevekesham sited at a ford of the Thames. Hean, nephew of King Cissa was granted land for founding a Benedictine monastery called Abbandun (Hill of Ebba) at the same time as his sister Cilla founded the Nunnery of Helnestowe on or near St Helens Church, the principal church in 675AD. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, Abingdon Abbey was the 6th richest in Britain.

The Monday market has existed since 1556. The Michaelmas Fair (now known as the Ock Fair) was originally a 'hiring mart' for those seeking employment.

In 1810 the Wilts and Berks canal arrived with Abingdon becoming a key link between such places as Bristol, London, Birmingham and the Black Country. In 1906 it was abandoned as the canal sides collapsed and the railways offered faster transport. The first link to the railway came in 1856 with a branch connection to Culham and subsequently via Radley. The local station closed in 1963.

Abingdon was the county town of Berkshire, becoming part of Oxfordshire after local government re-organisation in 1974.

Logo: MG Octagon car badgeThis famous logo became synonymous with fast, sporty two seater cars which were manufactured in Abingdon for 50 years until production ceased in 1980.

Since 1946 a number of scientific establishments have been set up in the area including the Harwell International Business Centre and the JET (Joint European Torus) project at Culham. Many high-tech industries have been drawn to the area alongside local trades such as printing and brewing which continue to prosper alongside.

Two of the main roads into Abingdon cross rivers - the Thames and the Ock - over bridges listed as ancient monuments. The bridge over the Thames is over 550 years old. The Thames has always been important to the town and today is a focal point for many recreational activities. Riverside gardens attract vistors, anglers fill the riverbanks and pleasure cruisers queue to pass through the picturesque lock.

Abingdon is within easy reach of both the M40 and the M4.

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