Visit Abingdon and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Abingdon, Oxfordshire, is one of the oldest and most important towns in the area, and lies near the lush green watermeadows of the River Thames, just where it is joined by the little Ock. From the l5th-century bridge, rebuilt in the 19th century, there are splendid views of the town with the spire of St Helen's soaring above it.
Abingdon originally grew up round its abbey, which was founded in 676, ravaged by the Danes and later re-founded in 955. It became very prosperous and kings came and went. But later the abbey was dissolved under Henry VIII and the town sank into relative decline.
The abbey church and much else has long disappeared, but down by the river some interesting buildings remain. First is a two-storied stone and timber-framed house, containing a long gallery. Nearby stands a 13th-century stone building with a groined undercroft below. The upper story is remarkable for the fire-place and particularly for its rare chimney, best seen against the skyline from the lane. Another group of buildings, which was probably the granary, now contain an Elizabethan theatre in which performances are given during the summer; they are open to the public.
The abbey gateway also still stands, and nearby are the abbey house grounds, where various architectural fragments are on display. The gateway is 15th-century, with three archways, one on the south being l9th-century and it is now linked to municipal buildings. The former St John's Hospital Chapel is now the borough court, while above it is a splendid l8th-century council chamber decorated with portraits, including those of Charles II and of George III and his queen by Gainsborough. The Corporation plate is kept there, and includes some splendid l8th-century pieces, linked to the building is part of the old Roysses Grammar School, founded in 1563.
The rest of the town has some good Georgian building, and some earlier timber-framed houses. But of all these the 17th-century Town Hall is by far the most elegant. It has been attributed, though without any evidence, to Sir Christopher Wren and to Christopher Kempster; it stands on tall pilasters, the arcades on the ground floor leaving room for market stalls. Above, one room contains the Borough Museum, which has a collection of fossils and archaeological remains as well as charters and documents.
The Church of St Nicholas faces the Market Place and dates back to Norman times, though much restored and altered later. However, St Helen's is more remarkable and dates mostly from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. It not only has five aisles, making the church broader than it is long, but also boasts a remarkable late-14th-century painted roof, showing kings, prophets, Christ Crucified, the Annunciation and the Tree of Jesse. There are also interesting monuments, some late Georgian and 19th-century stained glass and a 17th-century font cover and pulpit.
The church is set amongst picturesque almshouses; Long Alley Almshouses, 1446, face the west front, while Brick Alley and Twitty's Almshouses both date from the early 18th century.
Nearby cities: Oxford.
Nearby towns: Didcot, Faringdon, Wantage.
Neaby villages: Blewbury, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Cumnor, East Hagbourne, Eynsham, Harwell, North Morton, South Morton, Upton, West Hagbourne.
Have you decided to visit Abingdon or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Abingdon bed and breakfast (a Abingdon B&B or Abingdon b and b)
- a Abingdon guesthouse
- a Abingdon hotel (or motel)
- a Abingdon self-catering establishment, or
- other Abingdon accommodation