A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 10, Munslow Hundred (Part), the Liberty and Borough of Wenlock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1998.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The sparsely populated rural parish of Abdon, comprising 1,263 a. (fn. 1) (511 ha.) until 1884, is 13 km. north-east of Ludlow on the western flank of Brown Clee. Much of its boundary, especially on the south and west, followed streams, but on the east it followed the upper limits of Abdon common, which were not finally fixed until the 17th or early 18th century. (fn. 2) In 1884 the civil parish absorbed Earnstrey Park, a detached township of Diddlebury parish, and a small detachment of Tugford parish around New House. (fn. 3) About 0.1 ha. of Ditton Priors C.P. was added in 1967 (fn. 4) and the whole of Tugford C.P. in 1987. (fn. 5) This article deals with the area of the pre-1884 parish and the adjoining detachment of Tugford.
The eastern third of the parish, Abdon common, falls steeply from 505 m. on the east, below the prehistoric rampart of Abdon Burf, to c. 325 m. above Abdon village. The land then falls more gradually to 180 m. at the parish's western tip. Most of the parish drains south and west towards Tugford (or Norncott) (fn. 6) brook, which forms the parish boundary on those sides. The parish's northwestern part drains north and west towards tributaries of the brook, at or beyond the parish boundary.
The lower, western, two thirds of the parish are on the Ditton Series of the Lower Old Red Sandstone, with no significant drift except for an area of head near Marsh Farm. The steeper eastern third, Abdon common, is on the Clee Group of the Lower Old Red Sandstone. The Upper and Lower Abdon limestones run in two narrow parallel bands along the foot of the common. (fn. 7)
Abdon village was loosely grouped around the head of a valley below Brown Clee, between c. 240 m. and c. 300 m. Extensive earthworks east of the churchyard (fn. 8) include at least one house platform occupied until the 14th century, (fn. 9) and early buildings may have stood northwards as far as Marsh Farm. (fn. 10) The village evidently shrank in the 14th century because of economic adversity. (fn. 11) Nevertheless the township could muster 10 able men in 1539 (fn. 12) and had at least 11 houses in 1642. (fn. 13) Expansion of mineral working in and near the parish (fn. 14) was accompanied by squatter settlement along the lower edge of Abdon common; (fn. 15) thus by 1662, of 20 houses in the township that paid hearth tax, 14 had only one hearth, (fn. 16) and by 1684 there were said to be c. 30 squatters. (fn. 17) Houses were abandoned in the later 18th century. (fn. 18) Some were probably in Abdon village and became redundant through farm amalgamations; (fn. 19) at least one house platform among the earthworks east of the church seems to have fallen vacant at that time. (fn. 20) Others were probably miners' cottages at the edge of Abdon common (fn. 21) and were abandoned when local demand for ironstone ceased. (fn. 22) Nevertheless the parish had 30 houses in 1793, an unusually high number for the district, and many were occupied by miners. (fn. 23) After the common was inclosed in 1813 (fn. 24) a scattering of houses arose on the plots sold at Woodbank, (fn. 25) and the parish's population grew from 137 to 170 between 1811 and 1831. (fn. 26) Changes in the character and extent of mineral extraction on Brown Clee (fn. 27) may have been the main causes of marked population loss in the 1860s and, in the enlarged civil parish, in the 1890s and mid 20th century. (fn. 28) The civil parish had 70 inhabitants in 1971 (fn. 29) and 85 in 1981. (fn. 30) Population decline after the mid 19th century, however, did not result in the loss of many houses. (fn. 31) In 1991 the former squatter cottages, which enjoyed long views over Corve Dale and had been much modernized and extended in recent years, were mostly occupied by commuters to the west midlands. (fn. 32) The old farmhouses and cottages are all of local stone, some with brick additions of the 18th century or later.
Two minor thoroughfares served Abdon village. (fn. 33) One of them, south-west from Ditton Priors, (fn. 34) descended through the village to Clee St. Margaret and Stoke St. Milborough. The other, west from Cleobury North (and thus from Bridgnorth), (fn. 35) descended between Abdon Burf and Clee Burf and crossed Abdon common to the village, via the sunken Coblers Lane; thence Furnace Lane ran west by Abdon bridge to Tugford. (fn. 36)
Marsh gate, on the road from Ditton Priors to Clee St. Margaret, where it touched the lower edge of Abdon common, gave access to the common for the 'strakers' (commoners) of Holdgate (fn. 37) and Brookhampton; they came through Earnstrey park (fn. 38) and probably joined a road to Marsh gate from Ashfield. A southward lane from Marsh gate followed the western edge of Abdon village, passing the church, and led to Upper Norncott, the Heath, and Bouldon. (fn. 39) Another lane from Marsh gate followed the edge of the common southwards, thus serving the squatter cottages and limekilns and leading via Cockshutford (fn. 40) across Tugford brook to the Heath. (fn. 41) Strakers from Tugford crossed the ford from the south side to reach the common at Woodbank. (fn. 42) A sunken track from Marsh gate to the top of Brown Clee (fn. 43) linked the squatter cottages and limekilns to the coal pits across the parish boundary. (fn. 44)
In the Whitsun morris dancing at Clee St. Margaret in 1619 the 'carpet' from the communion table at Abdon was used as a flag. (fn. 45) The parish seems to have had no public house in the 19th or 20th centuries. The county library opened a part-time 'book centre' at Abdon c. 1927. (fn. 46) The closed school (fn. 47) became a village hall in 1991. (fn. 48)
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
Wulfwine (Ulwin) held ABDON in 1066. Roger of Montgomery, earl of Shrewsbury, held it in chief in 1086, and Reynold of Bailleul, the sheriff, held it of him. (fn. 49) At Earl Robert's forfeiture in 1102 the chief lordship seems to have passed to Reynold's successors in the shrieval estates; (fn. 50) William FitzAlan (d. 1160) (fn. 51) held it; (fn. 52) so did Richard FitzAlan, earl of Arundel and Surrey (d. 1397), (fn. 53) and Beatrice, countess of Arundel and Surrey (d. 1439). (fn. 54)
In 1086 Azo held Abdon of Reynold. (fn. 55) He is assumed to have been Azor Bigot, (fn. 56) who gave a fardel (¼ virgate) of land in Abdon to Shrewsbury abbey between 1121 and 1135. (fn. 57) The land probably passed at that time to Tugford manor. Robert, a knight, perhaps Azor's son, (fn. 58) gave Abdon to Shrewsbury abbey in the later 1150s with William FitzAlan's consent. (fn. 59) The gift, although confirmed by the king in 1332 and 1346, (fn. 60) seems to have been void by 1255, when John le Strange held Abdon, (fn. 61) and it is assumed that Azor's Abdon estate had passed before 1166 to John's grandfather, John le Strange. (fn. 62) The younger John's grandson John le Strange, later Lord Strange of Knockin, held it c. 1284 (fn. 63) and in 1292. (fn. 64) John, Lord Strange, grandson of the last named, held it in 1315. (fn. 65)
The estate had been subinfeudated by the mid 13th century. In 1226 Geoffrey of Ledwich held land in Abdon. (fn. 66) He was perhaps the man who died in or before 1253 (fn. 67) and whose son and namesake (fn. 68) held Abdon in 1255 (fn. 69) and was perhaps the lord of that name in 1294. (fn. 70) Geoffrey of Ledwich's unnamed heir held it in 1363. (fn. 71)
Roger of Ledwich held Abdon under Geoffrey of Ledwich c. 1284, (fn. 72) but Roger's estate later passed to Robert Burnell (d. 1292), bishop of Bath and Wells. (fn. 73) It then followed the descent of Acton Burnell until Sir John Dudley sold Acton Burnell in 1542, (fn. 74) except that Sir Edward Burnell's widow Aline held it in dower 1315- 63. (fn. 75) In 1548 Dudley, then earl of Warwick, leased the manor for 200 years to William Heath. Heath assigned the lease in 1559 to Henry Cressett of Upton. (fn. 76) The freehold, which had presumably escheated to the Crown in 1553 on the attainder of Dudley, then duke of Northumberland, was acquired by Cressett (d. 1563) who left the manor to his nephew John Cressett of Upton (d. c. 1566). John's brother Richard had succeeded by 1572 (fn. 77) and sold it in 1598 to Humphrey Briggs (d. 1626). (fn. 78) It then passed from father to son, (fn. 79) through Moreton (cr. bt. 1641; d. by 1647), Sir Humphrey (d. 1691), (fn. 80) Sir Humphrey (d. 1700), (fn. 81) and Sir Humphrey (d. 1734), (fn. 82) and then to Sir Hugh, brother of the last named. (fn. 83)
On Sir Hugh Briggs's death in 1767 his estates passed to Richard Cavendish (formerly Chan dler) and Wadham Brooke as coparceners. (fn. 84) When Cavendish died in 1769 his moiety passed to Brooke (d. 1770), from whom the whole passed to the Revd. John Brooke. (fn. 85) On John's death in 1786 Cavendish's former moiety was shared by the Revd. Richard Huntley (d. 1794), who left his share to his son and namesake, and Gen. John Fitzwilliam (d. 1789), (fn. 86) who left his share to Richard, Viscount Fitzwilliam; John Brooke left the other moiety to George Brooke Brigges Townshend, who changed his name to George Brooke in 1797. (fn. 87)
In 1800 Huntley, Fitzwilliam, and Brooke partitioned Sir Hugh's former estates: Abdon manor was allotted to Fitzwilliam, (fn. 88) who died in 1816, (fn. 89) leaving it to George Augustus Herbert, earl of Pembroke and Montgomery (d. 1827), with remainder to the earl's son Sidney Herbert, (fn. 90) cr. Baron Herbert of Lea 1861. Herbert died in 1861 (fn. 91) and under Fitzwilliam's will (fn. 92) Abdon passed to Herbert's son George Robert Charles, the 2nd baron, who succeeded as earl of Pembroke and Montgomery in 1862. He sold the manor in 1873 to William Bradley (d. 1905), tenant of Lower House farm, (fn. 93) who was succeeded by his widow Helen (d. 1933), (fn. 94) followed by T. W. Bradley (d. 1959), whose cousin T. J. Bradley owned the manorial estate in 1991. (fn. 95)
By the mid 17th century the chief house was perhaps Lower House; it had by far the largest farm, (fn. 96) which may have been that called the Farm in 1754. (fn. 97) Edward Millichope, tenant in 1642, (fn. 98) rebuilt or altered it in 1647. (fn. 99) It may then have consisted of a single stone range. It was enlarged in stone on the south side c. 1800 to create a double-pile house, which was roofed and extensively remodelled to resemble a new building. It was renamed the Manor House after 1873.
Before 1291 Geoffrey of Ledwich enfeoffed Richard (perhaps fl. 1256), (fn. 100) son of Philip of Sutton, with a house and land in Abdon. Later Adam of Sutton held a house and land in Abdon, which his kinsman and successor Richard Sutton conveyed c. 1410 to his son Geoffrey. (fn. 101) John Sutton acquired more Abdon property c. 1434. (fn. 102) William Sutton (fl. 1561) sold Abdon property in 1566 to John Harryes, who conveyed a house and land there in 1573 to Francis Cressett of Stanton Lacy; Cressett sold it immediately to William Barker. (fn. 103)
The Abdon estate of William Burley (d. 1458) (fn. 104) seems to have descended with Broncroft (in Diddlebury) until the mid 16th century or later. (fn. 105) John de Vere, earl of Oxford, sold his moiety of the Abdon estate in 1552 to John Stringfellow, (fn. 106) who sold it to Thomas Barker in 1553. (fn. 107) In 1620 William Barker sold two houses and land in Abdon, perhaps consisting of what had been bought from Cressett and Stringfellow, to Moreton Briggs, (fn. 108) who became lord of the manor. (fn. 109)
Richard Tasker sold an estate to the lord c. 1734, called ABDON'S MARSH (47 a.). (fn. 110) Marsh Farm, presumably its house, may date from the 16th century or earlier. Built of stone, it consists of a hall range and cross wing, each having two units, 1½ storey, and an axial stack.
A farm at Abdon that belonged in 1608 to Thomas Sheppard of Baucott (fn. 111) (in Tugford) seems to have been NEW HOUSE, (fn. 112) in a detachment of Tugford parish (fn. 113) and therefore perhaps the Abdon land acquired by Shrewsbury abbey, lord of Tugford, in the 12th century. (fn. 114) By 1640 it belonged to John Page of Oxenbold, (fn. 115) whose family still had it in 1729. By 1744 it belonged to a relative, (fn. 116) Caleb Stedman of Elsich, and in 1813 to Sarah Stedman. (fn. 117) Thomas Bradley of Lower House, Abdon, owned it by 1841. (fn. 118) It thus joined the Abdon manorial estate when William Bradley bought that in 1873, and remained with it in 1991. (fn. 119) The house, a two storeyed range of three units with an axial stack against a cross passage, is probably 17th-century. It is built of rubble, neatly dressed and coursed, with dressed copings on the end gables. Internal brick stacks have been added at each gable end.
William Fewtrell (d. 1625) of Wrickton (in Stottesdon) owned lands between Abdon and Cockshutford called Bromley. He was succeeded by a grandnephew William Jenkes, whose daughter married Anthony Kynnersley. (fn. 120) Anthony Kynnersley of Leighton (d. 1760) (fn. 121) left COCKSHUTFORD FARM to his sons R. L. Kynnersley and Capt. Anthony Kynnersley (d. 1804); (fn. 122) Anthony was sole owner after his brother's death in 1781. (fn. 123) His son Thomas (d. 1843) left the farm to a niece (d. 1865), whose husband Robert Gardner (formerly Panting) sold it (26 a.) to Viscount Boyne in 1867. (fn. 124) The farm was later renamed Brook House. The house is a two storeyed stone range of three units, with a lobby entry against an axial stack; it is probably 17th-century. An internal stack has been added at the west gable end.
The parish has always been mainly agricultural. In 1086 there were two ploughteams but capacity for three more; the manor's value had fallen from 20s. to 12s. since 1066. (fn. 125) The arable seems to have been enlarged in the 12th and 13th centuries, (fn. 126) and a marl pit was mentioned in 1256. (fn. 127) In the 13th century the township had autumn grazing over the hay meadow of Corfham manor in return for rent and mowing services. (fn. 128) By 1340, however, Abdon's tenants were said to be so poor that most of the arable lay uncultivated. (fn. 129) About 1600 the open fields included Mill field west of the village, Church field northwest, and Hill field south-east. (fn. 130)
In the Middle Ages Abdon was among the townships that intercommoned over the great uninclosed part of Brown Clee, which belonged to the lord of Clee chase and was regulated by his swainmote. He also allowed grazing on the uninclosed hill by inhabitants of outlying townships within the chase, who were called strakers. (fn. 131) By c. 1620 the lower parts of the uninclosed hill had been divided among the townships that adjoined it, as their exclusive commons. (fn. 132) In the earlier 17th century the swainmote lapsed and by 1712 the whole of the uninclosed hill had been apportioned, probably in the later 17th century, among the adjoining townships as their own commons. (fn. 133) Strakers from Holdgate, Brookhampton, and Tugford nevertheless continued to exercise grazing rights on Abdon common or 'liberty' until the later 18th century. (fn. 134) It occupied the eastern third of the parish, and its upper limit was marked by the massive dry stone 'Burf wall', (fn. 135) of which there were some remains in 1991. A manorial rabbit warren on the common at Coneybury (fn. 136) was in use in 1708 but had disappeared by 1810. (fn. 137)
By the 1640s the open fields had been almost wholly inclosed; only parts of Hill and Little fields remained. The manorial estate then had five large farms, of which Lower House (fn. 138) (perhaps the former demesne) (fn. 139) was valued twice as highly as any other, and five much smaller farms. No cottagers, smallholders, or squatters were mentioned. (fn. 140) In the later 17th and earlier 18th century sheep and cereals were more important than cattle, but there was some dairying on a domestic scale. (fn. 141)
By the mid 18th century the lord of Abdon was seeking to amalgamate farms. In 1734, on leasing two farms (47 a. and 52 a.) and a smallholding to a single tenant, Sir Humphrey Briggs reserved the right to demolish buildings; (fn. 142) by 1800 the combined holding was a single farm (122 a.) with only the farmhouse on it. The manorial estate then had five farms between 64 a. and 170 a., another of 28 a., and 10 resident smallholders or cottagers, (fn. 143) at least some of whom were squatters on the common. (fn. 144) In 1793 oats were considered the main cereal. (fn. 145) There was more wheat than oats in 1801, but in some years the parish could not grow enough grain to supply the inhabitants. (fn. 146) Abdon common was inclosed in 1813. A portion was allotted to each freeholder of Holdgate and Brookhampton, and to Lord Craven (for his Tugford estate), in lieu of straker rights, as well as to each of the Abdon freeholders; 96 a. at Woodbank were sold to defray expenses. (fn. 147) By 1850, after inclosure of the common and evidently some further amalgamations, the parish had three large farms: Upper House (278 a.) and nearby Lower House (230 a.) with houses in the hamlet, and Marsh farm (140 a.) Three other farms had 30-40 a. each and occupied old inclosures at the edge of Abdon common. There were also c. 15 resident smallholders, similarly located, with up to 16 a. each; eight of them were principally farmers, the others also had a trade. (fn. 148) Much of the parish's arable was put down to grass in the late 19th and early 20th century but was ploughed up again later, especially for barley. (fn. 149) In 1941 there remained seven farmers, a smallholder, and five cowkeepers. (fn. 150) At Upper House George Bradley was a noted breeder of Hereford cattle and Shropshire sheep, (fn. 151) and in the late 20th century beef cattle and sheep remained the parish's chief enterprises. (fn. 152)
Limestone quarrying and lime burning were probably established by the late 17th century; early 18th-century farm leases allowed lime making for use on the premises. (fn. 155) Quarrying followed the two narrow bands of limestone. (fn. 156) In 1810 'Abdon limeworks' (fn. 157) were above Marsh gate, with 'new' kilns apparently nearby. (fn. 158) The kilns were associated with three quarries along the lower margin of Abdon common. (fn. 159) By 1807 the works were let to a single undertaker, who sublet parts. (fn. 160) They were fuelled with Brown Clee coal. (fn. 161) Before the mid 19th century a scattering of kilns also stood farther south towards Cockshutford. (fn. 162) In 1841, however, working was probably intermittent, for there were no resident quarrymen or limeburners. (fn. 163) Production seems to have ceased with the closure of the nearby collieries. (fn. 164) The last man to burn lime regularly was Levi Cooper, a farmer and coal owner in 1851, (fn. 165) whose main occupation was lime burning in the period 1856-70. (fn. 166) Some kilns remained in 1883 (fn. 167) but all were disused by 1902. (fn. 168) Roofing slates were got on Abdon common in the early 18th century. (fn. 169) A sandstone quarry on the common, (fn. 170) reached by an old sunken track, was disused by 1883. (fn. 171)
There were coal and ironstone mines east and south of the parish boundary, on the higher parts of Brown Clee. (fn. 172) Commercial extraction seems to have begun in the 17th century. (fn. 173) A miner was mentioned in 1715. (fn. 174) Demand for local ironstone fell in the later 18th century with the decline of nearby furnaces, (fn. 175) but in 1793 nearly half of the 31 households at Abdon were of miners, most of whom probably had agricultural smallholdings too; they kept pigs, worked only part time at mining, and at harvest helped on the farms. (fn. 176) In 1851 Abdon had four resident coal-pit owners, evidently self-employed, of whom at least three also had smallholdings, (fn. 177) a coal haulier, and four coal miners, probably wage earners. (fn. 178) Coal mining on Brown Clee declined in the later 19th century, (fn. 179) and only one coal miner remained at Abdon in 1881. (fn. 180) From 1907 to 1936 jobs were available on Abdon Burf in roadstone extraction, (fn. 181) but agriculture became otherwise the only nearby employment.
In 1571-2 Abdon presented at Richard Cressett's court leet of Holdgate, (fn. 182) but in the 1770s was doing suit to Munslow hundred. (fn. 183) A court baron, mentioned in 1734, (fn. 184) met biennially in the later 18th century. (fn. 185) Abdon was also subject in the 16th century to the swainmote of Clee chase. (fn. 186) The 'old pound and drift place' mentioned in 1580 (fn. 187) may have been used in connexion with it. After the swainmote lapsed, its jurisdiction over parts of the former chase was claimed to subsist in the court leet of Earnstrey Park (in Diddlebury), (fn. 188) and when Sir Humphrey Briggs sold Earnstrey Park in 1709 he is said to have 'removed' his chase jurisdiction, perhaps reduced in extent, to Abdon; by 1744, however, it was not exercised there. (fn. 189)
The parish was in Ludlow poor-law union 1836-1930, (fn. 190) Ludlow highway district 1863-95, (fn. 191) Ludlow rural sanitary district 1872-94, and Ludlow rural district 1894-1974, and in South Shropshire district from 1974. (fn. 192) The civil parish had a joint council with the Heath C.P. in 1992. (fn. 193)
About 1138 Aelfric (Eluericus) 'the dean' gave Abdon chapel to Shrewsbury abbey in recompense for having wronged the monks. (fn. 194) By 1148 the chapel had long been paying the abbey a pension of 2s., (fn. 195) which was still owed in 1419. (fn. 196) The living was a rectory by 1346. (fn. 197) In 1407 it was said to owe another pension, 3s. 4d., to Tugford church, (fn. 198) to which it may therefore at one time have been joined or subordinate. (fn. 199) In 1240 Geoffrey of Ledwich quitclaimed the adowson to the abbey, (fn. 200) which held it until 1407 (fn. 201) or later; the bishop collated by lapse in 1462 and 1530. (fn. 202) In 1551 Jerome Dudley, the lord of the manor's brother, (fn. 203) presented, and in 1556 Henry Cressett, perhaps already lord, with William Heath. Edward Cressett presented in 1577, (fn. 204) but from 1580 the advowson was regularly exercised by the lord (fn. 205) until 1873 when Lord Pembroke sold the manor but kept the advowson. The earls of Pembroke remained patrons after 1873 and alternate patrons from 1928, when Abdon and Clee St. Margaret became a united benefice, (fn. 206) until 1962 (fn. 207) when the earl conveyed his advowson to the bishop of Hereford. From 1957 the united living was held in plurality with Stoke St. Milborough and Cold Weston benefices. (fn. 208) The patronage was suspended 1973-83 and the cure served by the incumbent of Diddlebury with Bouldon and Munslow as curate (or priest) in charge. (fn. 209) In 1983 Abdon rectory was separated from Clee St. Margaret and was thereafter held in plurality with the united benefice of Diddlebury with Munslow, Holdgate, and Tugford. (fn. 210)
The living was valued at less than £4 in 1291, (fn. 211) at £5 3s. 4d. in 1407, (fn. 212) at £2 19s. 6d. in 1535, (fn. 213) and at £32 c. 1708. (fn. 214) In 1768, to meet a benefaction in augmentation of the living, Queen Anne's Bounty gave £200, (fn. 215) with which glebe at Clee Stanton was bought in 1785. (fn. 216) In 1793 there were 22 a. of glebe in the parish and 25 a. in Clee Stanton, yielding £29 altogether, and all the tithes in Abdon were let to the occupiers for £30. (fn. 217) The tithes were commuted to £128 in 1848. (fn. 218) The glebe at Clee Stanton was sold in 1863, (fn. 219) leaving 28 a. in Abdon. (fn. 220) Earnstrey Park township (in Diddlebury) had been added to the ecclesiastical parish of Abdon in 1858, (fn. 221) from which time the dean and chapter of Hereford paid the rector £20 a year for his duty there; (fn. 222) in 1885 £33 of annual tithe rent charges in the township, thitherto the vicar of Diddlebury's property, were annexed to Abdon rectory. (fn. 223) The rectory house was reckoned 'equal to the living' in 1793 and was rebuilt or much improved by Lord Pembroke c. 1825. (fn. 224) The incumbents did not live there after 1920, (fn. 225) and 21 a. of glebe were sold in 1922. (fn. 226)
The rectors seem to have been normally resident until 1780. (fn. 227) Edward Baldwyn, 1780-1817, always employed curates; he was a schoolmaster in Bradford (Yorks. W.R.) in 1793 and afterwards lived in London. (fn. 228) His immediate successors, (fn. 229) though non-resident, served the cure in person. (fn. 230) The rectors from c. 1825 to c. 1920 lived in the parish. (fn. 231) From 1920 they lived in the nearby parishes of which they were also incumbents. (fn. 232)
The small church of St. Margaret, so dedicated by 1793, (fn. 233) consists of chancel and nave with south porch and west bellcot. The walls are of coursed rubble with ashlar quoins and were rendered externally until after 1854. In 1854 the roofs were of stone slates, (fn. 234) later replaced by clay tiles. In 1731 the church was 'very ruinous' and needed complete rebuilding. (fn. 235) A brief for £1,120 was issued c. 1737, (fn. 236) and it appears from the surviving fabric that a thorough rebuilding took place, the old materials being re-used. (fn. 237)
The plain font may date from c. 1200. The chancel has a two-light south window of the earlier 14th century and remains of a piscina. The south door, and perhaps its timber framed porch, may also be 14th-century. The chancel roof timbers may be of the later 15th. There was a timber framed west bell turret by 1731. (fn. 238) An open timber truss serves as a chancel screen; (fn. 239) it is apparently integral with the nave roof, which probably dates from the 1730s. The east window of the chancel and south window of the nave were plain and square-headed in 1790, (fn. 240) so perhaps were replacements of the 1730s; the north nave window (fn. 241) was similar. (fn. 242) By the late 18th century the pulpit was in the north-east angle of the nave. Men sat on the north side of the nave, women on the south. (fn. 243) There seems to have been a west gallery by 1790 (fn. 244) and it was greatly enlarged in 1831. The communion rail stood then on three sides of the table. The chancel had two pews on the south, (fn. 245) one of them perhaps that erected for Edward Sandes's farm in 1655. (fn. 246)
W. S. Dear, rector 1829-50, (fn. 247) inserted a new east window in the Decorated style. (fn. 248) A thorough restoration was completed in 1860. (fn. 249) The nave was extended west, with a stone bellcot in place of the turret. The nave south window was replaced by a new one, the north one by three new ones. (fn. 250) It may have been then that the gallery was taken down and the pews replaced by benches. Wainscot from the pews was re-used as a nave dado. The pulpit, reading desk, and communion rail may all be c. 1860 too. All the communion plate dates from 1846. (fn. 251) Two new bells were substituted in 1860 for the three recorded in 1740. (fn. 252)
The registers begin in the 1560s and entries survive for 1583-5, but they are complete (save for a gap 1641-9) only from 1614. (fn. 253)
The rector had a school in 1662, (fn. 254) and there was a day school in 1831. (fn. 255) Abdon C.E. school opened in 1850 as a parochial school, in a new building provided by the lord of the manor and managed by the rector, who by 1870 made up any annual deficit. It consisted of two rooms and a teacher's house under one roof. There were c. 20 pupils in 1870. Boys and girls were taught together in the larger room in the morning; in the afternoon the master's wife taught the girls sewing in the other. (fn. 256) The school closed in 1946 and the children went to Burwarton C.E. school. (fn. 257)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
By 1787 there was a poor's stock of £12 10s. (fn. 260) The annual income, 12s. in the early 20th century, was distributed in cash to widows until 1927 or later, (fn. 261) but the charity ceased before 1975. (fn. 262)