The hamlet of Abbeystead, Lancashire is situated in the north-west of England. Finding Lancaster on the coast, travel a few miles south-east to the edge of the Forest of Bowland. With its narrow lanes and old stone houses and walls, and the river Wyre flowing past to the south, Abbeystead would make the most hardened city-dweller long for the country life.
Abbeystead is one of a group of settlements that make up Over Wyresdale parish. A little over 300 people live in this huge area, much of which is part of the Abbeystead Estate. One of the notable features of the area is Ward’s Stone, the highest point in the Forest.
I hope you’re all enjoying your Easter holiday. I’m releasing this episode a day early as a special treat. I hope you enjoy it.
Episode 9 – Abbeyleix
Last week, the history of Abbey Green ended at the dissolution of the monasteries. But where Abbey Green falls quiet the history of our next town, Abbeyleix, begins.
The foundation of the abbey
This week, we start our adventures in Poulton, Cheshire.
“But Isla,” I hear you exclaim, “Poulton begins with a P! You’re still on A!”
And you’d be right. We are on A. But the story of Abbey Green, Staffordshire begins in Poulton.
Note: This week I have changed from linking to the references from the text. Setting this up was taking me a lot of time, and without it I can get more written. You can still find a list of references at the end of the post. Please enjoy!
Today we visit two Irish locations that share some similarities to Abbey Dore, whom we covered last week. Both towns are former homes of Cistercian monasteries that were left to ruin after the dissolution, though unlike Abbey Dore they were never restored.
Abbeydorney is located in the Irish county of Kerry, close to the west coast and just north of Tralee. The village also goes by the names Abbey O’Dorney and Montnagee. Abbeyfeale is a short distance east of Abbeydorney, and just falls into county Limerick; it is the largest settlement covered so far in this blog, with a population of around 2000.
Today we reach the youngest village so far on our alphabetical tour of Britain – Abbey Dore. This village of around 500 people did not exist at the time of the Domesday Book, but the intersection of a river and an ancient Roman road made it an ideal location for a new settlement.
If you want to view the village today, I can recommend this YouTube video of one group’s hike through the area.
But nearly two thousand years ago, Abbey Dore was a very different place. In the year 43 AD, the Romans began the conquest of Britain, and soon the Celtic Britons either submitted willingly, or were forced to do so in battle.
The village of Abbess Roding is in the county of Essex, north-east of London. It is among a group of eight hamlets and villages in the area with the name ‘Roding’, and the area as a whole is called ‘The Rodings’. The pronunciation is like the word ‘Road’. The other Rodings are: Aythorpe, Beauchamp, Berners, High, Leaden, Margaret and White.
For a glimpse into the nature and beauty of this area, I can highly recommend this YouTube video walking between White Roding and Chipping Ongar.
The name’s origin reveals the area’s first settlers, a band of Saxons called the Hrođingas (the đ sounds like ‘th’ in ‘than’ – Hrothingas), the people of Hrođa. It seems this Hroda sailed up the river Thames, before turning up a tributary around where the London district of Barking is today. They continued up the river until they found a quiet, fertile area to settle and call their own, forging a small kingdom. As well as the eight settlements, they also gave their name to the river Roding that flows past many of the villages. The Saxons could have used the river as a highway – much easier to travel than muddy paths, especially in winter. 
Our alphabetical tour of Britain and Ireland continues today with a visit to two villages with the same name: Abberton, Essex, and Abberton, Worcestershire. So without further ado, let’s begin.
2 – Abberton, Essex
On the east coast of England, just south of Colchester, lies Abberton. It sits by Abberton Reservoir, constructed in the 1930s to supply water to Essex. It has since become a place of great natural beauty, and an internationally important site for wildfowl such as ducks, swans and geese. 
Abberton is a quintessential English village: quiet, peaceful, and nothing much happens. It has a 16th Century church, St Andrews, and an 18th Century manor that is now a care home.
Our journey around Britain begins in the Midlands, in a village called Abberley. If you want to find it on a map, look for Birmingham and follow the M5 south towards Bristol. Stop at Worcester. Abberley is north-west of Worcester, and south-west of Kidderminster.
We can determine from the village’s location that it would have been in the Kingdom of Mercia, and later on remain in Saxon lands when Alfred the Great formed a treaty with the invading Viking chief Guthrum. This split the country in two, and the Viking half was called the Danelaw, because it was under the Danish law codes. The treaty helped to make sure the legal system on either side of the split was considered fair by both parties.
There’s so much I could tell about Abberley, and I can’t fit it all into this one post (which seems incredible for a village of just 900 people), so if you want to find out more, my references are at the end of the article.
We will cover:
- Domesday Book (1066/86)
- Female inheritance (1309)
- The Welsh Rebellion (1405)
- Imposter Kings (1487)
- King Henry’s Right-Hand Man (1530)
- The Civil War (1646)
- Politics and Poetry (1698-1708)
- Rebuilding (1840s-present)
British History has been covered in many ways, on podcasts, documentaries, and blogs. But I want to look at things differently. I want to take the villages, towns and cities of Britain and Ireland, and talk about history through the eyes of the people living there. Who were they? What impact did each place have on these islands? What events happened in their streets?
In the old days, before Google Maps, you had to figure out your directions from a paper map. In the back of the map was an index with all the place names from A to Z, and you’d need to plan your route carefully as the map wouldn’t give you a time estimate or three different routes to get there. I’ve got my own road map of Britain, the AA 2014 Great Britain and Ireland map, from whose index of place names I will be working. Not every settlement in Britain is listed – a few small hamlets will be missed out, sadly, but there is plenty to be getting on with.