Exploring the Vale of the White Horse

Today we went in the car to Wantage and Abingdon. Wantage is more interesting than I expected. It
has a long history and many interesting buildings. Much of this is recounted and displayed in the Downlands Museum, There is a decent cafe attached to the museum and
we had lunch there in the shape of a bowl of soup and some bread and butter.In the museum
we bumped into one of its strong supporters, local historian Bill Fuller who has written
about the town and drawn many of the buildings. We purchased his booklet A Visitors
Guide to Wantage.We also learnt about a former Vicar of the parish, a Reverend William Butler. He had ministered there for 34 years in the mid-19th century and had restored the life of the town as well as the church. He had been involved in setting up the community of sisters which became the convent at Wantage. At the age of 63 he left Wantage to become Dean of Lincoln.

Butler was part of the Oxford Movement; and this probably explains why today the parish remains firmly in the traditional wing of Anglo-Catholicism, After buying some Easter cards in a shop in Wantage market-place we drove on to Abingdon The town centre was very quiet. Quite a number of units in the new shopping area were empty; and the shops in the historic streets were uninspired.

We decided to go into Waitrose thinking this was where most people would be. This proved correct. Strangely I bumped into about the only person I know who lives around Abingdon; the lay chair of the deanery, Neil, who farms cattle at Marcham.


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