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EA ABINGDON Downstream graph -
EA ABINGDON Upstream graph -

from Environment Agency Guide 2012-2013

Lock on RIGHT bank, length: 120', width: 18'9"
Abingdon Weir for canoists. See also.

1316:  Complaint against John de Salter, Abbot of Abingdon – for so heightening his weir that both banks above were often flooded.
His successor was drowned - see Abingdon Bridge.
1649:  Abingdon Weir (the word “Lock” is used) built by Sir George Stonehouse and Richard Adams, see photo of 1910.
1790:  First Pound Lock built

1805: Abingdon Lock by William Turner of Oxford [not JMW Turner] –
[ I thought at first it might just be Nuneham Lock (I don’t know if it was a pound lock or not) – but compare the heights of the church steeple in this and the 2002 photo – this is Abingdon Lock.]

Abingdon from the Thames Navigation, William Turner of Oxford, 1805
Abingdon from the Thames Navigation, William Turner of Oxford, 1805.

1805: And then Byrne published this black and white print -

Abingdon from the Thames Navigation, Byrne, 1805
Abingdon from the Thames Navigation, Byrne, 1805.

Who copied whom?

1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall


Abingdon is one of the most ancient towns of the kingdom; it stands near the junction of the little river Ocke (which rises in the Vale of White Horse) * with the Thames,
* This vale takes its name from an enormous representation of a horse cut in the side of the chalk hills. This singular figure has existed there from time immemorial. It is rude in character; but, inasmuch as that character is precisely similar to the figures of horses on ancient British coins, it is believed to be equally ancient. It has long been the custom of the peasantry to clear it of weeds, and generally to restore it, at certain seasons of the year.
and although now a place of small importance, has played a conspicuous part in many of the most stirring events of British history.
A legendary tale thus describes its origin: —
"At a time when the wretched pagan Hengist basely murdered 460 noblemen and barons at Stonhengest, or Stonehenge, Aben, a nobleman's son, escaped into a wood, on the south side of Oxfordshire, where, leading a most holy life, the inhabitants of the country flocking to him to hear the word of God, built him a dwelling-house and a chapel in honour of the Holy Virgin; but he, disliking their resort, stole away to Ireland, and from him the place where he dwelt is called Abingdon."
It is hardly necessary to state that this derivation is incorrect, and that the name is purely Anglo-Saxon. We give the legend as an example of the fanciful interpolations in early history by the elder chroniclers. *
* "Abingdone" (says Leland in his "Itinerary") "stands on the right side of the Isis, and was of very old time called Seukesham, since Abendune."
The old hospital at Abingdon is founded on the site of the monastery dedicated to the Holy Cross and St. Helena, by Cisa, sister of the king of the West Saxons, in the seventh century: this religious foundation having gone to decay, a hospital was erected in its place by a rich merchant, in the reign of Henry V., named Geoffry Barbour; in the reign of Henry VIII. this and other charitable institutions in connexion with the church were forfeited to the Crown; and the Abbot of Abingdon, being one of the first to acknowledge the king's supremacy, was rewarded for such subserviency by the gift of the Manor of Cumnor, and a pension of £200 a year for his life. Sir John Mason, in the reign of Edward VI., bestirred himself to restore the charity, and in the year 1553 it was re-endowed, and named Christ's Hospital. It then accommodated thirteen poor men and women; the number is now thirty-two.

Abingdon Lock, Henry Taunt -

Abingdon Lock, Henry Taunt, 1885
Abingdon Lock, Henry Taunt, 1885
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT3199

1890: Abingdon, the Lock from downstream, Francis Frith -

1890: Abingdon, the Lock from downstream, Francis Frith
1890: Abingdon, the Lock from downstream, Francis Frith

1905:  Lock rebuilt

1910:  Fred Thacker –

When I was through the lock in 1910 Mr. Drew the lockkeeper called my attention to a stone built into the left wall of the midmost of the three weirs -

This locke was bvilded by
Sr George Stonehouse and
Richard Adams Ann. 1649

Abingdon Lock stone, photo by lock keeper Mr Drew, 1910
Abingdon Lock stone, photo by lock keeper Mr Drew, 1910.

2002: -

Abingdon Lock, 2002
Abingdon Lock, 2002

Swift Ditch

The Swift Ditch is now a weir stream leaving on the RIGHT bank above the lock. It was at one time the main stream.
955-963: Ethelwolde made the cut which is now the main navigation (according to Leland 1535)
1060:  Oxford Petition to make the new stream the main navigation.
1535:  Leland –

The chefe stream of Isis ran afore betwixt Andersey Isle and Culneham, even where now the south End is of Culneham.
Ethelwolde, Abbate of Abbingdon, and after Bishop of Winchestre, yn King Edgares days - caused - a Gut to cum out of Isis by force to serve and purge thofficis of thabbay.

[ Which being translated means that the beautiful course of the Thames at Abingdon, and that lovely bridge, were all accidentally created because a medieval Abbot wanted a flushing lavatory! The monks would then have used this new stream to transport goods to and from the abbey. ]

1577:  William Harrison,  Description of England -

No part [of the Thames] at the first came so neere the towne as it doth now, till a branch thereof was led thither from the maine streame, thorough the industrie of the monks.

1624:  Swift Ditch reopened as main navigation
1790:  Main Navigation restored to the Abingdon Stream.

1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall

About half a mile [above] Abingdon the Thames divides into two parts, the eastern portion leaving the main stream at right angles, and going to Culham Bridge, and the western going to Abingdon; the eastern part was the navigable stream from Oxford to London in the time of James I., and the old lock is still remaining, but blocked up. 'We have already quoted an extract from "The Chronicon" relating to the eastern part; and the following, relating to the western, occurs at the commencement of the volume: —
"Mons Abbendone ad septeutrionalem[sic] [sepemtrionalem?] plagam Tamese fluvii, ubi praetermeat pontem Oxenefordis urbis situs est; a quo monasterio non longe posito idem nomen inditum."

[ Translation from the difficult Latin probably written in 1117:
"Abingdon hill is on the north shore of the River Thames, where it passes by the Oxford town bridge, and from the hill the same name is given to the monastery positioned close by."
I think dune was an upland area, the monastery got its name from the Abing dune, - a large area between what is now Abingdon, and Oxford, and the town then got its name from the monastery. (Maybe)
Mr & Mrs Hall seem to think that the bridge referred to is Abingdon Bridge and that therefore this is a reference to the western of the two streams.