Latest Views

Brakspear supports local events in Henley...
Artists' open studios and exhibitions across Oxfordshire...
An exhibition of paintings on canvas by year 7 & 8 students...
Find somewhere to stay in Southern Oxfordshire and the Vale

home > Towns & Villages > About Abingdon on Thames

About Abingdon on Thames

Located six miles south-west of Oxford, the former county town of Berkshire had a slight name change in 2012 to become Abingdon-on-Thames. Best known for MG Car manufacturing, Abingdon is recognised for special architectural merit with some thirty-four 17th century buildings and twenty-two even older.

Evidence exists of an early Bronze Age settlement which, at over 6,000 years old, makes Abingdon the oldest continuously occupied town in Britain. An Abbey was established in the 7th century which was visited by William the Conqueror and his son, the future Henry I, was educated here. By the time of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, Abingdon Abbey was the sixth richest in Britain. Parts of the building remain and play an active part in community events.

When the Wilts and Berks Canal opened, Abingdon became a key link between major industrial centres such as Bristol, London, Birmingham and the Black Country. Although abandoned in 1906, a voluntary trust is now working to restore and re-open it. The original Abingdon railway branch line is now a popular cyclepath. Road bridges crossing the rivers’ Thames and Ock are listed as ancient monuments. Abingdon Bridge dates from 1416 and is technically two bridges, linked by Nags Head Island.

The town was granted a market charter in the 13th century and there is a market each Monday and Farmers' Market on the third Friday in the month except bank holidays. There are riverside parks and gardens, space for angling and leisure facilities for tennis, swimming and boating.
Claims to Fame:

Abingdon celebrates a long-standing tradition of bun throwing dating back to the coronation of George III. On days of celebration (royal marriages, coronations and jubilees), buns are thrown to assembled crowds from the roof of Abingdon County Hall Museum. A collection of dried and varnished buns dating back to the 19th century exists at the museum.

Morris Dancing is another old and active tradition. Every year the residents of Ock Street elect a ‘Mayor of Ock Street’ who parades through the town preceded by the Horns of Ock St, a symbol of Abingdon's Traditional Morris Dance Side.

Local superstition decrees that people walking beneath the Abbey Gateway between the Abingdon County Hall Museum and the Guildhall should hold their breath to prevent the decorative gargoyles from stealing it.


Things to do in Abingdon:
  • Visit County Hall Museum – one of Abingdon’s oldest and most beautiful buildings re-opening after extensive refurbishment in summer 2012. Exhibits include the last MG manufactured at Abingdon.
  • Admire St Helen's Church – with five aisles, England’s second widest church is wider than it is long and has beautiful 14thcentury painted ceilings.
  • Explore Abbey Gardens with our handy education pack, marvel at the Abbey Buildings - remains of the medieval abbey destroyed by Henry VIII include the 13th century Checker, the Long Gallery and Undercroft.
  • Watch pleasure boats passing through Abingdon Lock – the oldest surviving lock chamber in the UK, and possibly Europe.
  • Book a visit to the medieval Merchant House –16th century wall paintings, gallery windows, fireplaces and walled garden restored by the Oxford Preservation Trust.
  • Walk the Abingdon Art Trail- take in the contemporary works of art displayed in public places celebrating Abingdon's identity and heritage, or follow the Abingdon Heritage Trail and see how many architectural points of interest you can spot.
  • Swim or splash in Abbey Meadows outdoor pool or water feature or simply enjoy the Abbey Meadows riverside walk
  • If you have a whole day to spend then dowload one of the town itineraries
  • Follow the Abingdon MG Car Trail around the town. 
Three things to do near Abingdon:
  • River Thames cruise – regular summer services depart Abingdon for trips to Oxford, Wallingford and the Thames downstream.
  • Kingston Bagpuize House & Garden – a privately owned stately home open to visitors on selected dates from spring to autumn.
  • Cothill Nature reserve - an alkaline wetland habitat and designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) home to rare plants, insects, birds and reptiles.
What’s on in Abingdon:
The remains of Abingdon Abbey include the Elizabethan style Unicorn Theatre and Long Gallery, which are still used for plays and events including an annual craft fair.

The annual Abingdon Air & Country Show takes place every May at Dalton Barracks, the former RAF Abingdon.

Central Abingdon closes for two days every October for the Ock Street Michaelmas Fair, closely followed by the Runaway Fair the following Monday.
Browse the Abingdon events on the Southern Oxfordshire What's On Events Calendar or on the Abingdon Town and Community website.

Where to stay in Abingdon:
Looking for tourist accommodation or somewhere to stay in Abingdon? To view Hotel, B&B, Guest House, Inn, Self-Catering properties, Caravan and Camping sites in Abingdon use the search facility on the right hand side of the page and click Abingdon in the location option.

Visit Southern Oxfordshire only works with Quality Assured accommodation in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse districts. 

Tourist Information:

Abingdon-on-Thames Visitor and Community Information Centre
Roysse Foyer
Abbey Close
OX14 3HL
Telephone 01235 522711


View Larger Map