The Checker dates from the 1260s and is one of the oldest of the surviving buildings of the great medieval abbey of Abingdon. When built it consisted of one large room at first floor level, heated by a large fireplace, and a vaulted undercroft below. It seems that these did not interconnect. The upper room may have been the office of an important official, the lower, a store-room or wine cellar.
The upper room was divided into two in the early fourteenth century when the tall north-facing windows of this period were inserted. A piece of masonry like a battlement may be a surviving crenellation of the same period, suggesting that the reconstruction was a response to the riots of 1327 and that the two room ‘exchequer’ was a replacement for a building that had been destroyed by the mob. The ‘exchequer’ was probably the Abbey’s counting house or administrative office, and the division into two rooms was possibly to allow receipts and expenditure to be handled separately.
After the Dissolution, it served as a storage area for William Blacknall’s milling business, and later for the brewery that operated in the neighbouring Long Gallery. This use continued until the end of the nineteenth century when it was repaired and opened to the public. In the 1940s it was acquired by the Friends of Abingdon.
It is open to the public during the summer months.
See Glossary for explanations of technical terms.
© AAAHS and contributors 2013