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Church of St Nicholas, Abingdon on Thames

Description: Church of St Nicholas

Grade: I
Date Listed: 19 January 1951
English Heritage Building ID: 250267

OS Grid Reference: SU4984397082
OS Grid Coordinates: 449843, 197082
Latitude/Longitude: 51.6703, -1.2806

Locality: Abingdon on Thames
Local Authority: Vale of White Horse District Council
County: Oxfordshire
Country: England
Postcode: OX14 3QZ

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Listing Text



Church of late Norman and Perpendicular date, restored in 1881 by Edwin Dolby of Abingdon and London.

MATERIALS: Mainly rubblestone, some ashlar, red tiled roof.

PLAN: Chancel, nave, west tower, and on the north side a shallow C16 chapel and organ chamber and vestry of 1880-1.

EXTERIOR: Late Norman nave with W front with late Norman doorway with three orders of shafts flanked by blind arcading. In nave two N lancets and traces of a third; to the S (where parapet of 1881) two windows in the Decorated style. West tower of c.1470 built within the nave with stair turret on north side. Vestry and organ loft of 1880-1 against north side of chancel.

INTERIOR: Chancel separated from nave by broad probably C14 chancel arch. Sceened-off east vestry of 1953. Reset within This is a late C14 carved crucifixion. Late C19 choir stalls. Nave with kingpost roof of 1881. Benches also of 1880-1. Fixtures and fittings include a pulpit of 1628 reset at the south-east corner of the nave and a C15 font with broad stem and bowl with quatrefoils. Stubby C16 chapel on north side of east end of nave with reset memorial of 1684 to John and Jane Blacknall (both d.1625), and late C19 stalls and wallpaintings. Exceptionally tall and narrow tower arch with reset Creed and Lord's Prayer boards.

HISTORY: The church was apparently founded as a chapel for lay servants of Abingdon Abbey c.1170 to one side of the main gateway into the precinct. The south wall and chancel were rebuilt following a furious attack on the abbey by the townsfolk in 1327. The church saw considerable enrichment (new windows and tower) in the C14 and C15. There was an extensive restoration, notably of the interior, in 1880-1 under Edwin Dolby of Abingdon and London. Works at that time included demolishing the Two Brewers public house which had stood against the north side of the church; replacing the nave roof; replastering the walls; replacing the floors; re-opening blocked windows; building a vestry and organ chamber. After a fire in the chancel in 1953 there was some reordering of the east end of the church.

The church of St. Nicholas is a complex and architecturally interesting church of the C12 and later whose history was intimately bound up with that of Abingdon Abbey. It stands in a prominent town-centre position in central Abingdon facing the Market Square and its Grade I-listed Town Hall and abutting the gateway which formerly gave access to the abbey precinct. While the core of the building is of the late C12 extensive improvement programmes were undertaken in the C14 and C15. It has good collections of fixtures and fittings and of monuments. Overall of outstanding special interest.

SOURCES: N. Pevsner, Berkshire (1966), 53-4; J. Sherwood, A Guide to the Churches of Oxfordshire (1989), 15; R.M. C. Barnes, The 1880 Restoration of St. Nicolas', Abingdon (1985) [leaflet]

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.