Friday, 4 October 2013


We arrived in Abingdon-on-Thames on a beautiful sunny day after spending the morning in the City of Oxford.  It's just a bus ride way about 5 1/2 miles south of Oxford.

Abingdon, in now considered part of Oxfordshire,  but historically it was in Berkshire.  It claims a long history that dates back to the Iron Age.  A defensive enclosure was discovered in the town centre that dates back to the Iron Age and shows evidence of Roman occupation.

St. Helen's Church dates back to 1100 and is still in use today.  And that is where my personal interest begins in Abingdon.   We are on a search to find St. Helen's Church where I know my George Howson married Jane Lay in October 1816.  They also had a son Thomas born in June 1817 and sadly died one day later.  I've already checked with the Oxford Family History Society and they can find no burial records or any other baptismal records, for that matter for George and Jane.

George Howson is listed as a victualler and so we will definitely need to search out some pubs.  Just for authenticity sake, you understand.  Morland was the main brewery in Abingdon for many years.  While Morland brewery was purchased by the Greene King Brewery, you can still see some of the Morland signs.

Armed with a map of Abingdon, off we go to find the Church.  St. Helen's Church is a large Church with it's own small cemetery.  Unfortunately, the church isn't open for tours when we are here.  So, I'll just have to view it from the outside.  Many of the tombstones in the surrounding cemetery are hard to read.  We did find a tombstone for a Charles Lay, but I have no idea if he is one of "my" Lay people.  The stone reads:  An affectionate remembrance of Charles Lay, who died on November 29, 1849, age 39.

Charles Lay Tombstone in  St. Helen's Churchyard

St. Helen's Church entrance
I also know from one of the church records that George and Jane Howson lived on West St. Helen's Street, so we'll have a look for that as well as Ock Street where the pubs were located.

We decide to meander through the streets to see what we can see.  We find a pub on Ock Street called the Brewery Tap.  It once housed the Morland administration office in the 1800's.  It is where the landlords came each month to pay their rent.  The pub itself is quite new but there is lots of Morland memorabilia around.

After a wander through the town, it's time to be on our way.  I'm sorry to leave Abingdon as we only had a flying visit here.  I think I found an Innkeeper in Devon in my family tree, so maybe that will be our next holiday.