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Barton Court
Abingdon, Berkshire

The origins of the manor of Barton may stem from the Roman estate which surrounded a busy villa excavated in the area. The place was one of the earliest granges of the Saxon Abingdon Abbey and, in the 12th century, provided its monastic landlord with five thousand six hundred eggs a year! The straw for the refectory floor was also supplied by Barton and the Abbey kitchener was able to claim three errand boys, and their horses, from the manor.

The old Abbot's Court was probably built shortly after 1328 as the previous building was burnt to the ground by . After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it changed hands a few times before being purchased by Thomas Reade in 1547. He, no doubt, built himself a fine Tudor mansion. The family lived in the house - or at least owned the manor - for the next two hundred and fifty years. While staying in Abingdon, King Charles I was entertained, several times, at Barton Court by Thomas' Royalist grandson and namesake. It was also at Barton  that Charles said goodbye to his Queen for the last time, before her journey to Exeter and France in April 1644. Though originally held by the Cavaliers during the Civil War, the nearby town of Abingdon was soon taken by the Roundheads. So Sir Thomas’ home was in a precarious position. His grandson, Compton, had to defend the house with great bravery until finally it "was burnt over his head," probably in March 1646. Barton was in ruins at the close of the Civil War and the Reades moved out to Shipton Court (Oxfordshire) did not return. Timbers from the house were reused in the nearby Barton Court Farm, and these have revealed signs of fire and Cromwellian bullet holes! The Bowyers from Radley Hall, who bought the manor in 1808, eventually built a replacement mansion. This was pulled down in the 1970s to make way for the present housing estate.

    © Nash Ford Publishing 2002. All Rights Reserved.