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traces of Norman arches where others of a somewhat later period have been inserted in their places. It is a plain church, and presents no very remarkable feature either externally or internally. In one of the windows are the arms of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York; there are also a few monuments, but none of interest.
St. Helen's church, near the river, is a much larger structure, and has been a very handsome one. It was erected between the early part of the fourteenth and the end of the fifteenth centuries; and consists of a spacious chancel and nave, with two aisles on each side, and has a lofty and elegant spire. Few churches perhaps have undergone more disfiguration, especially in the interior, than this. Galleries have been erected and additions made, without any regard to the original design. The whole of the body of the church has been filled with very tall and very ugly pews. Of the large and noble windows some have been altered, and others stopped up—the splendid east window, for instance, to accommodate a " classic" altarpiece. The old Gothic pillars have been decorated with a gay colouring, to make them resemble housepainters' marble, and almost every imaginable kind of finery has been substituted for the solemn grandeur of the original. It would be useless therefore to attempt to describe the interior: I shall only mention that, besides the arches and main parts of the edifice, much tracery can be made out in spite of the whitewash, and some fragments of the roof uncovered by plaster, are left worthy of notice. In the Lady's aisle, or chancel of our Lady, as it is called, is a portion of a very beautiful carved wooden roof, having painted in the panels figures of prophets and saints, with their names under them, and having richly carved canopies over their heads. Tradition reports it to be a fragment of the old abbey roof, but it was no doubt constructed for its present situation. In a gallery in this aisle is a portrait of Mr. Wm, Lee, accompanied by a genealogical chart, and an inscription which states that he died in 1637, "having been fifty-three years one of the principal burgesses, and five times mayor of Abingdon, and had in his lifetime issue from his loins two hundred lacking but three.'' It must be admitted that this is a goodly progeny for a man to live to reckon, but it is quite insignificant in comparison of that of Lady Temple, who, according to Dr. Plot, " before she died saw seven hundred descended from her!"
Abingdon appears to have always had an unusually charitable population, and some of the most prominent, if not the handsomest, of its buildings are appropriated to the use of the decayed inhabitants. At a very early period a brotherhood was established here, who, having erected a cross in the church of St. Helen, called themselves the Brethren of the Holy Cross. As early as 1389 they maintained a priest, and had two proctors chosen annually to manage their affairs, and it was mainly by their efforts that the two bridges of Burford and Culhamford were constructed, which proved of so great advantage to the town. The brethren were incorporated by royal charter in 1442, and empowered to possess lands to the annual value of 401. for the purpose of keeping the roads between Dorchester and Abingdon in repair; and for the maintenance of thirteen poor men and women, and a chaplain to officiate in the church of St. Helen's. Seven commissioners were appointed to the oversight of the fraternity, of whom Thomas Chaucer, the son of the poet, was one. It was about this time that they erected the beautiful cross which formerly stood in the market-place, and which Sir Edward Walker, in his 'Historical Discourses,' calls " the greatest ornament of the place, being a goodly piece for beauty and antiquity." Richard Symons, an officer in the army of Charles I., describes it as octagonal, and adorned with three rows of statues of kings, saints, and bishops. He was at Abingdon in May, 1644, soon after which the soldiers of Waller, on taking possession of the town, destroyed the cross. The more famous cross at Coventry is said to have been imitated from this. No relic is left of it, but there is an old representation of it painted on the east end of Christ's Hospital. To return to our "Brethren." In 1457 they appointed two priests, at a salary of 61. 13*. 4d. each: one of them was called the "rood priest," his duty being to pray for benefactors to the rood; and the other the "bridge priest," it being his duty to pray for the benefactors to the bridges and roads. At this time it was the custom of the fraternity "to give a very bountiful feast," providing plenty of victuals, twelve priests to sing a dirge, twelve minstrels to make the company merry, together with solemn processions, pageants, plays, May games, &c. But the feast was not quite given, for "those who sat at dinner paid one rate, and those that for want of room did stand, another." The guild was dissolved along with the other religious establishments in the reign of Henry VIII.; but Edward VI., at the request of Sir John Mason, a native of the town, and a great benefactor to it, granted a new charter in 1553 to some of the principal inhabitants, incorporating them by the name of the governors of Christ's Hospital. There have been many changes in it since then, but it will suffice to mention its'present state. In the old hospital there are fourteen poor persons maintained; and in a new building erected out of the hospital funds in 1718 eighteen persons are maintained, but their privileges are somewhat inferior to those on the old foundation. The old building is a curious brick and timber structure, with cloisters; and on the front of it. are several rude paintings of figures and allegorical devices, with inscriptions enforcing the duty of alms-giving. Both these buildings are in St. Helen's churchyard: where also are two others devoted to the same purpose, in one of which, also rebuilt out of the funds of Christ's Hospital, six poor men and their wives are supported; and in the other, founded in 1707, by Mr. Twitty, who gave 1700/. to build and endow an almshouse, three poor persons of both sexes are supported. In another part of the town is an ancient hospital, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, in which four men and their wives are maintained. The other buildings in Abingdon are the market-place and town-hall, and a rather handsome bridge over the Thames.
Abingdon has produced a few persons of eminence. Abbot, the speaker of the House of Commons, and Moore, the author of 'The Gamester,' are among the most celebrated of its natives of late years. It is to be regretted that no history of the town has been written. It would afford sufficient matter for a very interesting one, and would be a pleasant and praiseworthy employment for an inhabitant who is fortunate enough to possess the necessary leisure and information.
Our river flows onwards through cultivated meadows, but for some distance the banks are flat, and no "object presents itself that calls for notice. Just before reaching Culham a range of low hills terminates by the river, and we see the tower of Sutton-Courtnay rising from among the trees, and presently the scattered roofs of the village; while on the higher ground, on the opposite side of the river, is seen the little rustic church of Culham. But there is nothing in these places that need detain us, nor in one or two other villages that we pass soon afterwards. The picturesque situation of Clifton church will not, however, pass unnoticed by the rambler. It stands on the edge of a cliff' that rises up almost perpendicularly from the water, and from the road that leads down to the ferry at its base. The church is small, and quite new, having replaced one of much ruder appearance: the design is a very pretty one, and very suitable to the situation—a point seldom attended to in these new churches, and as seldom neglected in the old ones.
Between Clifton and Little Wittenham, some three or four miles, the fields on either side are undisturbed by any human habitation, except perhaps an outlying farm-house or two about the hamlet of Burcot. There occurs, however, many a pleasant secluded spot that will tempt the feet of the rambler to linger awhile. As we approach Wittenham its church is a prominent object, and on the other side that of Dorchester is even more so. Near Little Wittenham is one of those characteristic " bits" of river scenery that landscape painters