St Nicolas’ Church, which stands near Market Place in Abingdon, is one of the few remaining buildings from the great Benedictine Abbey of St Mary. It was built towards the end of the twelfth century, and there is documentary evidence of its existence in 1177.
The church provided a place for the Abbey servants and tenants to worship. A notable worshipper was St Edmund of Abingdon while a child. His mother was buried in the church.
In 1327 the south wall was damaged during riots, and during the fifteenth century, there were additions, including the bell tower, and changes to the chancel and windows. There was a major restoration by local architect Edwin Dolby in 1880, and the east end was remodelled in 1953 following a fire that damaged the chancel.
In 1372 the church was given its own parish, taking some land from that of St Helen. In 1989 the two parishes were merged into a new Parish of Abingdon with two parish churches. Their civil functions have been united since 1894.
In a small chapel to the north of the nave, there is a fine monument to John and Jane Blacknall. A charity that John set up in 1625 still provides funds for the church and for the poor of the parish.
A relieving arch supports the north wall of the nave, above a culvert that houses the River Stert running under the church. It discharges into the Thames nearby.
As an ancient parish church that is open to change and values the traditional, St Nicolas’ Church carefully balances using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the newer Common Worship services. The formal services of Holy Communion and Morning Prayer are complemented by less formal Family Services.