A STATUE of a holy man in Abingdon has fallen down – and may not get back up again.

The nine foot-tall wooden figure of an abbot, which is a man who is the head of an abbey of monks, has stood on the Marcham roundabout since 2002.

It has become a well-known landmark in the town, greeting drivers coming into the town from the A34 near the Tesco superstore.

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However, the statue has recently toppled over and remains sideways on the roundabout due to local authorities being unsure whose responsibility it is to look after the abbot.

Abingdon Town Council have said the matter is for Oxfordshire County Council who maintain the roundabout. However, the highways authority have denied that is their responsibility.

The abbot was paid for by commercial publisher Abbey Press, which sponsored both the statue and the roundabout ahead of the Thames and Chiltern Country in Bloom competition in 2002.

It  was victorious in the 'best landscaping' category, but Abbey Press stopped trading in April 2013, leaving nobody responsible for the statue.

Mayor of Abingdon, Andy Foulsham, said said: “I've seen the monk for many years at his perch on the Tesco roundabout, often adorned with a variety of t-shirts and Christmas hats.

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“The statue was a firm favourite of my daughter in her preschool years - and she still remembers it now she's 22.

“It's definitely a matter for Oxfordshire County Council as they are responsible for the highways - and I've dropped a line to the local member to see if he can shed a light on what is happening.

Apparently, the statue was part of an advertising campaign by Abbey Press back in 2002 - but they seem to have stopped trading in 2013, which meant that there hasn't been anyone responsible for its maintenance.”

However, a spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council has said the council is responsible for the roundabout but has ‘nothing to do with the statue’.

They said: “If the statue is not causing an obstruction, we won’t be doing anything about it.”

People living in the town are keen to see the statue returned upright, stating the abbot is ‘a part of Abingdon’.

Commenting on a post-box topper of the abbot on Facebook, one resident said: “I hope someone can come up with a solution to keep him on the island. Not another loss of an old Abingdon memory.”

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Another added: “Such a shame that no one has come forward to sort the poor old monk out, the roundabout is such an eyesore.”

The abbot serves as a reminder of Abingdon Abbey, which was founded in the 7th century and for centuries dominated the town until it fell into ruins after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries.


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @geeharland