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Holidays in Abingdon

Arguably England’s oldest town offers up some historical places of interest

Abingdon

Abingdon is a historical market town on the banks of the River Thames, in Oxfordshire. Enjoy relaxing riverside walks, strolls through the olde-worlde streets or simply sit in a charming café, watching the world go by.

The town has strong claims to being England’s oldest town. Archaeological digs have turned up ancient artefacts from the period when man (in his hunter gatherer stage) was showing signs of leading a less nomadic life and trading with other tribes.

Among the places of historical interest in town, the Abingdon Town Hall Museum is one of its most striking buildings and presents a varied range of exhibitions throughout the year.

Make sure that you are around to coincide your visit with a ‘Bun-Throwing’ contest, a 400-year-old tradition which is only observed whenever the local council votes to hold one to mark a royal occasion, such as a wedding, or a Jubilee. The buns are kept and preserved by local families as heirlooms.

The Old Gaol, on the banks of the Thames, was built in 1811 and is said to have been built by Napoleonic-era prisoners of war. Although its impressive structure is intact, it has been converted into apartments in recent years. There is little trace of what was once one of England’s largest monasteries. The Abbey of St Mary’s stood for nearly 600 years before it was sacked by Henry VIII in the mid-1500s. Today there is an outline of the foundations to show the vast scale of what once stood in the town.

Abingdon

Car enthusiasts and ‘petrol heads’ will know that Abingdon was once the home of the MG, a truly British sports car, now defunct. The club house remains and is the property of the National MG Owners’ Club, and is focal point for car rallies.

Abingdon is also home to two well-known publishers – the faith orientated Abingdon Press, and the academic Routledge Press, who are famous for having published Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Jean-Paul Sartre, among other luminaries.

Those who love the great outdoors can pick up the Hanson Way from Abingdon; a part of the National Cycle Network (Route 5), it stretches between Didcot and Abingdon. Also, lookout for the Thames Path that passes close to the town, along the river bank - there are some interesting views to be seen along St Helen’s Wharf.

"Coincide a visit with the Bun-Throwing contest and you could witness a very strange local spectacle…"

Abingdon is a 25-minute drive from Oxford, where you’ll find an abundance of shops and even more beautiful architecture and history to discover. The museums are many and include the famous Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and the Pitt River Museum.

Walk in the footsteps of the nation’s most respected, great and good in this beautiful academic haven. Take a punt along the river or have a pint in one of the town’s riverside pubs.

We have some lovely cottages in and around Abingdon. Why not take a look at our collection of holiday cottages to feel inspired?

While you’re there

The Market Place

The Old County Hall is the focal point of this wide town meeting place for shopping and lunches.

The Thames Path

Take a stroll along the Thames Path, taking in the old wharfs and nature.

Oxford

Take a day trip to Oxford for shopping, walks, great food and some world class museums.

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