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Places to visit

Abingdon-on-Thames 'far from the madding beaches' to quote an interesting book on our region is geographically in the Vale of Abingdon beneath the Old Berkshire Downs.  It is eight miles from the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the East, a similar distance to the Cotswold AONB which is West of us, the Wessex Downs start at Steventon Hill less than five miles away and being on three rivers gives many pleasurable days out.

This is a town worth taking time out to explore. The ancient buildings have a character and charm all of their own and the town’s history is colourful and interesting. These pages will help you to plan your exploration in more detail.

This month more of the 'things to do' will need consideration in advance. Christmas trails, the pantomime, Santa's grotto near the town at Millets Farm were all booked up by 1st December. Luckily for us, the panto at The Abbey Cinema has had extra dates added and Abingdon Museum is able to stay open with half hour slots which need to be booked. You are still able to ask at the door, but ten is the maximum at any one time in the stunningly attractive Sessions gallery.

Map guides are normally available free from the Visitor and Community Information Centre at Guildhall, in the town centre top end of Bridge Street.  this is currently closed with staff working available by email. The Museum has some maps and may be able to let you have an item as you leave, conscious of the risk level on any particular day. The town guide is on this site and so are various tours. Books on the town are available from the Museum and our three excellent bookshops.

There are QR codes on the panels of information in the town centre and these give access to an audio tour. The OXTRAILS phone app covers Abingdon-on-Thames, Didcot, Faringdon, Henley, Thame, Wallingford all the Southern Oxfordshire towns. Oxfordshire countryside and footpaths sites are helpful please ask.

There are tours and history on this site of all the town's significant buildings.

A short walk west across Albert Park motor enthusiasts will find the MG Car Club immediately next to where MGs were built with the attention to detail that has made them so appreciated. Kimber House OX14 1AS has MG and MGCC memorabilia on display and items for sale each weekday (check or make an appointment at weekends).

Being at leisure by the sea is fun, and being by the mightly Thames is even better.



The side wall of the County Hall Museum viewed from the paved area with seating
Why not introduce your family to the interactive experience of a modern museum with changing exhibitions, workshops and activities for kids? Abingdon’s County Hall Museum is right in the town centre, overlooking the Market Place and is free. It’s a great start to any visit, helping you to understand the history of the town, from monks to MGs. On a dry day, a visit to the County Hall rooftop can...
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The Abbey Buildings
When Henry VIII’s men dismantled the Abbey which had made the town famous, they left behind some medieval buildings near the river which were eventually saved by the Friends of Abingdon. Today the Abbey Buildings are a fascinating glimpse into the business life of the monastery, and also include a small theatre created at the time of the coronation of our present Queen. There are three separate...
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Tulips and other bright spring flowers in the park
The Abbey Gardens are a charming stroll with flat, easy paths and wide gates. Amongst the planted flower displays can be found Victoria's statue and the ruins which have fooled many a visitor into thinking they have seen the remains of Abingdon Abbey. In fact it is Trendell’s Folly created in the 19th century when this was a private garden. None the less the stones are probably ancient in their...
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St Nicolas' Church in the evening sunshine at midsummer
Another remaining part of the Abbey complex is St Nicolas’ Church, once known as “The Little Church by the Gate”. It was built for the lay servants of the Abbey to use for their prayers and services and probably also as a contact point between townsfolk and Benedictine monastery. It is in full use today as a parish church; on Sundays the bells ring out across the market place from the square...
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Looking up at the high spire of St Helen's against a blue sky
St Helen’s Church spire is a familiar sight from the river and beneath it is an interesting church of unusual shape, the result of the successive generations of townsfolk keen to give their church some status by adding another nave, and then another...until the floorplan became as wide as it is long. The panorama of stained glass windows is lovely but of less importance than the very rare ceiling...
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Boat drawn up at St Helen's Wharf in front of the Anchor Pub
The former St Helens Wharf is worth a stroll not only because it is a beautiful spot overlooking the Thames, but also because it was the other source of wealth and importance for the town in early days. The merchants of the St Helens quarter owned many of the attractive town houses which line East St Helen Street today.  This area, including the wharf which once thronged with boats unloading and...
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Beautiful plasterwork ceilings in the historic rooms of the Guildhall
Guildhall was the civic heart of Abingdon-on-Thames in the 18th and 19th centuries. Part of the front of the building dates from 1400 and the Roysse Room was a school at the time of Mary Tudor, established in 1556. Restored to its former status since transferring back to the Town Council in 2010, the glorious baroque rooms have been in use for receptions and public events. The team which runs the...
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