Abingdon County Hall Museum
View of the County Hall building that houses the museum.
1919 (museum collection)
|Location||Abingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom|
|Collection size||Local history|
|Owner||Abingdon Town Council|
Abingdon County Hall Museum (also known as Abingdon Museum) is a local museum in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England. The museum is run by Abingdon Town Council and supported by Abingdon Museum Friends, a registered charity.
The museum is housed in a Grade I listed 17th-century County Hall building, located in the market place in the centre of the town. It is in the Baroque style and originally housed a courtroom for Assizes. Nikolaus Pevsner said of the building: "Of the free-standing town halls of England with open ground floors this is the grandest". The building was formerly the county hall of Berkshire; Abingdon was the county town until it ceded that title to Reading in 1867. The hall was built 1678–83 and was most likely designed by the Oxfordshire-born stonemason Christopher Kempster, who trained with Sir Christopher Wren on St Paul's Cathedral. It stands on pillars with a sheltered area beneath for use as a market or other municipal functions.
Collections and exhibitions
The museum's collections were started in 1919. The museum has permanent collections and presents temporary exhibitions several times a year. There are also smaller exhibitions on local themes that are changed every month.
On 1 December 2011, with the help of British Motor Heritage, the last MGB Roadster sports car off the production line in Abingdon in 1980 was lifted through a window 30 feet up, for display in the museum's main gallery from 2012.
The Monks' Map of the River Thames around Abingdon in the 16th century has been held at the town's Guildhall since 1907. After conservation, it has been redisplayed at the museum itself from its reopening in 2012. A reproduction of the Anglo-Saxon Abingdon Sword, discovered in the river at Abingdon and held by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, is also on display.
Some of the most important items in the museum are available online in an eHive database.
From 2010 to 2012, the museum and building underwent a two-year restoration programme, partly funded by the National Lottery. The museum reopened on 7 July 2012 by Martha Howe-Douglas, an actress in the BBC television series Horrible Histories. A new museum café is located in the basement.
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