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amiss to notice its foundation. In the reign of Kentwin, King of the West Saxons, who died in 686, Cissa, one of his viceroys, or his nephew Heane, or both jointly, founded a monastery in honour of the Virgin Mary, for twelve monks of the Benedictine order, Heane being made their first abbot. The site of the monastery was, it is said, a hill called Abendune, near Bayworth, in the adjoining parish of Sunningwell. After the death of Kentwin, Kentwell, his son and successor, not only confirmed to Heane and his monks the grant of their monastery, but gave to them the town of Seovechesham, with all its appendages-a right royal gift. And he was further pleased to command that the town should henceforth be called Abendon, after the place whereon the abbey then stood. This is the statement of a monkish writer of the thirteenth century, but it is probably, in part at least, fabulous. The name most likely arose, as Camden suggests, from its connexion with the abbey : Abbendon signifying the abbey-town. During the reign of Ethelwulf, the brother and predecessor of the great Alfred, and in the early part of Alfred's own reign, the Danes overran and ravaged the larger part of Berkshire. The monastery of Abingdon was destroyed by them, but it was Alfred himself who completed the ruin of the poor monks, by taking from them their town and all their estates, as a punishment for not having resisted the enemy with sufficient zeal. His grandson Edred gave the ruined abbey to Ethelwold known by his contemporaries as the “ father of monks," and by posterity as Saint Ethelwold—who was then a monk at Glastonbury. Ethelwold, with a few of his brethren, removed to Abingdon, and immediately set about the erection of a much larger abbey, of which the king laid the first stone. In the Abbey Register preserved in the Monasticon, it is recorded that Ethelwold deposited in the new edifice two bells made with his own hands; and two other larger ones, the workmanship of a still more famous saint and handicraft-his teacher in the mystery of bell-casting—the renowned St. Dunstan, were presented by that saint, who was also present at the consecration of the abbey. The abbey was completed early in the next reign by Ordgar, the successor of Ethelwold, who had been transferred to the bishopric of Winchester. The munificence of subsequent benefactors raised it to the foremost rank of the monastic institutions of the kingdom, both in honour and wealth. It was made one of the mitred abbeys, and at the suppression of the monasteries its annual income was about 20001. Leland, whose Survey, it will be recollected, was made soon after the suppression, describes the monastery as a magnificent pile of buildings; and Camden speaks of the ruins as exhibiting, in his time, evident marks of its former grandeur. Besides what has been mentioned, there does not appear to have been much of importance in its history. In 1326 it was plundered in a tumult by the townsmen, who were assisted by the commonalty of Oxford and the students of the University. The loss to the abbey is estimated in one old record at ten, and in another at forty thousand pounds. Several lives were lost in the tumult, and twelve of the townsmen
were hanged afterwards. Holinshed states that · Engelwinus, bishop of Durham, was imprisoned in the abbey, and, finally, starved to death there in
1073. According to Godwin, Geoffrey of Monmouth, the chronicler, was some time abbot of Abingdon, where he was buried. St. Edward, king and martyr, is also said to have been interred at Abingdon. William the Conqueror spent his Easter at Abingdon in 1084, and at his departure
left his younger son to be educated at the convent. That the monks did their duty by him appears evident from the fame he acquired by his learning, which was so unusual in amount for a prince then, that he was called Beauclerc on account of it. When Heane became abbot of the original monastery, his sister established a nunnery close by, but it was afterwards removed to Witham, in this county.
Very little remains of the abbey now. The abbey church is quite gone. Some of the rooms belonging to the monastery are in existence, one of them contains an ancient fire-place, with slender pillars on each side, of the time of Henry III. Besides these, the gateway by St. Nicholas church, represented in the engraving, is the only portion left. It is a graceful structure, though in very indifferent preservation; and is now used as a police station.
During the great Civil War Abingdon played a somewhat important part in the contest. Both parties attached importance to the possession of it, and in the large collection of pamphlets in the British Museum belonging to this period are several relating to Abingdon. Charles at the outset established the head-quarters of his horse at Abing. don, and in the early part of 1644 carried his queen there. In that year it was taken by the army of the Parliament: the Royalists made several unsuccessful attempts to retake it-its proximity to Oxford making it most desirable to dispossess the Commonwealth soldiers of it, if possible. Waller's army plundered the town and greatly injured its buildings, and entirely destroyed its fine old cross.
Now the most noticeable edifices it contains are its two churches, though there are some others worth looking at. The oldest church is the smaller of the two; it stands near the abbey-gate, and is dedicated to St. Nicholas. Its erection has been attributed to Abbot Nicholas de Colchan, about the year 1300 ; but he probably only rebuilt and altered it, as parts of it are evidently of an older date. The lower part is Norman, and there are