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
Established 1678–1683 (building)
1919 (museum collection)
Location Abingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Type Local museum
Collection size Local history
Curator Jane Bowen
Owner Abingdon Town Council
Website www.abingdon.gov.uk
Alternative view.

Abingdon County Hall Museum (aka 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]


Internal view of the loggia.

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.[3] It is in the Baroque style and originally housed a courtroom for Assizes.[4] Nikolaus Pevsner said of the building: "Of the free-standing town halls of England with open ground floors this is the grandest".[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

On 1 December 2011, with the help of British Motor Heritage,[8] 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.[9]

The Monks' Map of the River Thames around Abingdon in the 16th century has been held at the town's Guildhall since 1907.[10] 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,[11] partly funded by the National Lottery. The museum reopened on 7 July 2012[12] by Martha Howe-Douglas, an actress in the BBC television series Horrible Histories.[13] A new museum cafe is located in the basement.[14]

On 8 March 2013, the museum was officially reopened by the Duke of Gloucester.[15][16] A plaque was unveiled by the Duke at the museum.


  1. "Abingdon Museum Friends". Abingdon-on-Thames, UK. Retrieved July 8, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Abingdon Museum Friends, Registered Charity no. 1137089 at the Charity Commission
  3. "The County Hall & Museum Collection". Abingdon County Hall Museum. Archive.org. 3 November 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Abingdon County Hall Museum". UK: English Heritage. Retrieved July 8, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). "Abingdon County Hall Museum former website". Archive.org. Retrieved 31 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Abingdon County Hall: Information for Teachers" (PDF). English Heritage/Palladian Press. 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Abingdon County Hall Museum, Culture24, UK.
  8. "MGB returns to Abingdon". YouTube. British Motor Heritage. March 1, 2012. Retrieved July 27, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Television news item". YouTube. BBC Oxford News. December 1, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Monks' map was commissioned by Abingdon landowner". Oxford. BBC News. 23 June 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Newsletter,The Friends of Abingdon, Abingdon Museum, page 2, May 2010.
  12. Wilkinson, Ben (13 June 2012). "Abingdon's County Hall Museum to reopen next month". The Abingdon Herald. UK. p. 1. Retrieved June 17, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Historic day for museum after major revamp". Oxfordshire Guardian. UK. 5 July 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Buns In The Basement". Abingdon County Hall Museum, Abingdon-on-Thames, UK. Retrieved July 27, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Duke arrives for trio of openings". Oxford Mail. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Royal Opening for Abingdon Museum". Tourism South East. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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