Maud Hales Terrace, Abingdon Bridge
Although officially in Culham rather than Abingdon, Maud Hales Terrace is passed by all who walk across the bridge to and from the Rye Farm car park. In 1429 Maud Hales, widow of William, a mercer, funded an extension of the main bridge at Abingdon – called Burford Bridge – by adding the three arches at the south end, which although rebuilt in 1929 are still known as Maud Hales’ Bridge. A stone plaque on the pair of houses at the south end – Maud Hales Terrace 1753 – is enigmatic, however. There is no evidence that the terrace had this name in the eighteenth century, and the houses on which it is placed date from the second half of the nineteenth century!
The land was owned by Christ’s Hospital, whose predecessors, the Fraternity of the Holy Cross, had built the bridge in 1416, and was a garden in the 1650s when the first house – No. 1, the twin gabled cottage painted pink – was built. About a century later another house was built to the south, part of which survives behind the pair with the datestone. In the 1830s George Keates, a barge-owner, built the tall row of four narrow houses (Nos. 3-6) at the rear of the plot overlooking the meadows of Andersey Island. Although small, they had a degree of architectural flourish, some of which survives in the window dressings. Later in the nineteenth century a semi-detached pair of houses (Nos. 2 and 7) was built on to the front of the southern house, which at some stage was divided and each part incorporated into the new building at the front. Christ’s Hospital sold the freehold of the entire property in 1922. In the late twentieth century the small terraced houses gained northward ground floor extensions; the owners of Nos. 2 and 7 jointly extended their houses to the rear in 1991.
Annotated extract from 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (with thanks to Oxfordshire Library Services)
The first recorded lessees were carpenters and fishermen, but in the eighteenth century it was home to a number of boat-owning families, including the Gleeds and the Crawfords who were related by marriage. One Gleed barge, called ‘The Abingdon’ was very large (130 tons) and had a crew of six. In the nineteenth century the rear terrace was let to labourers and workers in local factories, and outworkers including ‘slop makers’ – of cheap (sloppy) clothes.
Maud Hales Terrace thus survives as a testament to the prosperity of the local barge-owners and as a microcosm of local history since the mid seventeenth century.
Acknowledgement: This article is derived in part from notes left by the late Reverend Michael Hambleton, and the authors thank Mrs Stella Hambleton for access to them.
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© AAAHS and contributors 2017