For your convenience on StreetMap the arrow points to a Public lavatory!
Above Abingdon Bridge
Abingdon is notable for offering
splendid free moorings above the bridge on both sides, on the banks of the islands (Andersey on the Right bank
and Abbey Meadows on the Left).
Remember - we are now encouraged to double park on moorings, by permission, alongside similar boats only - even when there is still bank space left.
On the RIGHT bank, there are the most secluded mooring, (not very!)
while on LEFT bank are moorings in a public park -
Abingdon Mooring above the bridge, 1999
1890: Abingdon, looking towards Abbey Lock, Francis Frith -
The Upper Reaches Hotel is closed. Please tell me if it re-opens. (Click [ABOUT] above)
In a small boat, there may be access via the mill stream which re-enters immediately above the bridge on the LEFT bank, (that is the west, Abingdon side). The hotel and restaurant is in the mill which blocks that stream.
The hotel is CLOSED. For the moment I leave in place what it said about itself -
Our Stream Bar and Restaurant offers casual fine-dining in a historic setting, inside the original mill house.
Our food is eclectic, fresh and has a global flavour ideal for an intimate lunch or sit-down banquet.
Whether its for a traditional Sunday roast, celebratory dinner or catching a quick bite with friends, The Stream has a unique ambience with its working waterwheel and recently refurbished contemporary décor. In finer weather enjoy a barbecue, cocktail or tea on the terrace overlooking the millpond and beside the banks of the Thames.
With its delightful location beside the tranquil beauty of the Thames, and beside the ancient Abbey stream, we are virtually an island.
Our private moorings allow for boat trips up the river towards Oxford or stroll down to Abingdon Lock to see the boats meander their way down the reaches. Or simply relax and watch the waters run by while enjoying a cool drink or tea on our Riverside Terrace.
The stream that flows underneath the restaurant of the Upper Reaches was cut for a millstream by St Ethelwold between the years 963 and 995.
After the monastery was dissolved in the sixteenth century, the mills became the property of William Blacknall and were then described as being wholly in ruin and decay. In 1556 the mills were granted to the two new Corporations in Abingdon and it in turned leased them back to Blacknall for and annual rent £20.00. At this time there were two fulling mills and one corn mill, the latter of which remained until 1967. It is this mill and its surrounding medieval structure which has been preserved in the Upper Reaches.
In 1968 the Upper Reaches Construction Company built a restaurant with flats over and in 1969 Trusthouse Hotels Ltd. bought the restaurant and the old mill. The Upper Reaches Construction Company was awarded the contract for building a hotel around the mill itself. The result is a stylish hotel, including a restaurant, bar and conference facility.
The mill itself is featured in the restaurant and has been carefully restored to working order. Underneath through the medieval arches, flows the stream diverted by St Ethelwold. A restaurant has been built on the site where corn was ground for almost 1000 years. And the ancient mill stones now serve as decoration to the gardens of the Upper Reaches.
The mill wheel is one of the few remains of Abingdon Abbey. Leaving the Upper Reaches and crossing the mill stream one confronts a few of the domestic buildings which remain; the Granary, the Chequer and the Long Gallery. The Granary, now used as the custodians house, was bought by the Corporation in 1673 and used as a house of correction until the beginning of the 19th century. It was then used as cottages, which were condemned in 1934.
It is to the generosity of The Pilgrims Trust and the current care and control of the Friends of Abingdon that credit must be given for the restoration and preservation of the existing Abbey buildings.
1906: Henry Wellington Wack, American Tourist, "In Thamesland" (writing of another hotel at Abingdon Bridge) -
A quaint little inn stands where the bridge joins the left bank of the river and overlooks Andersey Island,
the lock, weir, and backwater above the bridge.
This was the first hostel we saw which looked as if its host might make one comfortable for an hour. We therefore brought [ our canoe, its name would now be politically incorrect ] alongside the float and made our way up outside stairs to a room on a level with the Roman road and bridge above.
In a few moments the barrister and architect had joined us, and the quartet of lusty appetites set to to lay waste a pair of cold fowls and a well cured ham, with the usual concomitant (in England) of a mixed green salad.
Cold fowl and ham is the national lunch. Sometimes a casual inn will serve you a gutta-percha property fowl and a farmer's cured ham that seems to be having a relapse after its cure.
In this instance the fowl and ham and the ale were a feast in the mouth of a famishing man.
The little woman who waited upon us seemed pleased to observe our relish, and a word of praise from Russell did much to bring back those blushes of her youth, when she must have been as pretty as a water Iris.
After lunch we climbed still further aloft to a tiny balcony built over the river. Here we told yarns until the coffee came to remind us that coffee in England is the worst drink in Europe.
Our post-prandial prattle drifted to the British barmaid. Russell wished to know what degraded period of the British nation had produced the genus.
"It was horrible enough that in England women of the lower class should have descended to drunkenness so generally, but for a government to tolerate an institution wherein young women to the number of over 80,000 purveyed the arsenicated beer which wrecked their sisters, that was indeed an ineradicable stain upon the nation."
"My dear fellow", said the barrister indulgently, as he sipped his muddy coffee, "the public house in England without the barmaid would not only be contrary to an old and honorable custom, but it would be an invitation to ruin on the part of the publican who had abolished the talkative, sloppy girl who, with red, wet fingers, artificial politeness, and flirtacious unction, served you with liquor in an English taproom." ...
The architect seemed bored and simply remarked that he fancied the English, although criticised north of the Tweed and across the Atlantic and everywhere else, were not likely to abolish a custom inherited long before the Christian era.
"The long term of its existence in my country justifies it! No further defence is necessary. Savages, gentlemen, are not expected to either understand or appreciate those old and venerable customs which are both the spirit and the fabric of English liberty."
As this blunt disposition of the case was in perfect alignment with average magisterial pronouncements in the minor English courts, all hands good-naturedly made for the boats without further ado.
[ For further enlightenment on the relationship between the boating man and the Thames barmaid see below Boulters ]