Abingdon County Hall Museum

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Abingdon County Hall Museum
View of the County Hall building that houses the museum.
Abingdon County Hall Museum is located in Oxfordshire
Abingdon County Hall Museum
Location within Oxfordshire
Established1678–1683 (building)
1919 (museum collection)
LocationAbingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Coordinates51°40′12″N 1°16′53″W / 51.67°N 1.2815°W / 51.67; -1.2815
TypeLocal museum
Collection sizeLocal history
OwnerAbingdon Town Council
Alternative view.

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,[1] a registered charity.[2] It is a Grade II listed building.[3]


Internal view of the loggia.

The building was designed in the Baroque style by Christopher Kempster who trained with Sir Christopher Wren on St Paul's Cathedral.[4] It stands on large pilasters with a sheltered area beneath for use as a market or other municipal functions and was completed in 1683.[3][5] Nikolaus Pevsner said of the building: "Of the free-standing town halls of England with open ground floors this is the grandest".[6] It housed a courtroom for the assizes[7] until 1867 when Abingdon ceded that role to Reading Assize Courts.[8][9]

Collections and exhibitions[edit]

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.[10] The Monks' Map of the River Thames around Abingdon in the 16th century has been held at the town's Guildhall since 1907.[11] A reproduction of the Anglo-Saxon Abingdon Sword, discovered in the river at Abingdon and held by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, has also been put on display.[12] In December 2011, with the help of British Motor Heritage,[13] the last MGB Roadster sports car, which came off the production line in Abingdon in 1980 was lifted through a window 30 feet up, for display in the museum's main gallery.[14]

From 2010 to 2012, the museum and building underwent a two-year restoration programme,[15] partly funded by the National Lottery. The museum was informally reopened to visitors by Martha Howe-Douglas, an actress in the BBC television series Horrible Histories,[16] in July 2012[17] and was officially reopened by the Duke of Gloucester on 8 March 2013.[18][19] A new museum café was established in the basement.[20]


  1. ^ "Abingdon Museum Friends". Abingdon-on-Thames, UK. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  2. ^ Charity Commission. Abingdon Museum Friends, registered charity no. 1137089.
  3. ^ a b Historic England. "County Hall and Market House, Abingdon (1199601)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Abingdon County Hall: Information for Teachers" (PDF). English Heritage/Palladian Press. 2004.
  5. ^ "The County Hall & Museum Collection". Abingdon County Hall Museum. Archive.org. 3 November 2013. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  6. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). "Abingdon County Hall Museum former website". Archive.org. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Abingdon County Hall Museum". UK: English Heritage. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Abingdon". Berkshire History. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  9. ^ "County Hall". Abingdon Area Archaeological and Historical Society. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  10. ^ Abingdon County Hall Museum, Culture24, UK.
  11. ^ "Monks' map was commissioned by Abingdon landowner". Oxford. BBC News. 23 June 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  12. ^ "Abingdon Sword replica; Saxon; England, Oxfordshire, Abingdon-on-Thames". eHive, Vernon Systems. Abingdon County Hall Museum. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  13. ^ "MGB returns to Abingdon". YouTube. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  14. ^ "Television news item". YouTube. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  15. ^ Newsletter[permanent dead link],The Friends of Abingdon, Abingdon Museum, page 2, May 2010.
  16. ^ "Historic day for museum after major revamp". Oxfordshire Guardian. UK. 5 July 2012. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  17. ^ Wilkinson, Ben (13 June 2012). "Abingdon's County Hall Museum to reopen next month". The Abingdon Herald. UK. p. 1. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  18. ^ "Duke arrives for trio of openings". Oxford Mail. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Royal Opening for Abingdon Museum". Tourism South East. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  20. ^ "Buns in the Basement". Abingdon County Hall Museum, Abingdon-on-Thames, UK. Archived from the original on 12 July 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2012.

Coordinates: 51°40′12″N 1°16′53″W / 51.6700°N 1.2815°W / 51.6700; -1.2815