Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > England > South East England > Oxfordshire > Abingdon-on-Thames
Abingdon was the county town of Berkshire until 1870, and became part of Oxfordshire when local government was re-organised in 1974. It is a busy market town with a good choice of shops, pubs and restaurants. It was the home of MG motor cars which used to be built at the MG Works, which is now a business centre. It benefits from being aside the River Thames and having an attractive County Hall. However, Jerome K Jerome in his book Three Men in a Boat described Abingdon as a 'dull market town'.
Each year the centre of the town is closed off (twice) for two fairs. The Michaelmas Fair takes place early each Oct (legally the last Mon & Tues before the 11 Oct). Ock Street, High Street and the Market Place are closed off and the fair is thought to be the longest street fair in Europe. In medieval times the fair was intended as a hiring fair for farm workers, these days it's rides, ferris wheels, and more traditional fairground rides and stalls. Then follows the unusual tradition a week or so later of the Runaway Fair. A smaller fair, the history of the Runaway Fair was that it provided an opportunity for those who were hired by cruel masters or found poor working conditions from the earlier Michaelmas Fair could "runaway" and find better employment before the winter.
The town has a unique historic tradition of Bun Throwing dating back over 400 years. In practice it is a bit of a cross between a ceremony and a "bun fight". Held when the Town Council votes to hold one and generally to celebrate a royal occasion. One was held to celebrate the 2011 Royal Wedding, and another in 2012 to mark the Royal Jubilee. Councillors in full ceremonial robes chuck around 4000 currant buns from the top of County Hall down at the chanting crowds filling the market place below. The buns are specially baked for the occasion with a crown design on the top. The buns are often fought for and preserved by local families and visitors. If your visit happens to be at the same time as a royal occasion check the Town Council Website in case such a rare ceremony has been scheduled.
The town lies on the A34 main road (running Winchester to Salford via Birmingham). 17 miles south of the town the A34 connects to the M4 motorway (London to Swansea) and 18 miles north of the town the A34 connects to the M40 motorway (London to Birmingham)
- By rail to Oxford, then by bus.
The town has many bus services connecting it to Oxford, Didcot and surrounding villages. Details of which bus services stop at which bus stops in the town are published by Oxfordshire Council with bus service and route information at OxonTime.
- National Cycle Route (NCR) 5. Runs from Reading to Holyhead through Abingdon. Along its route NCR 5 connects to other National and Regional Cycle Routes integrating it into the National Cycle Network.
- Hanson Way. Runs through the town, from Oxford (9 miles) to the N and Didcot (15 miles) to the S (see Sustrans leaflet for route details).
The town is small enough to be seen on foot.
- 1 Abingdon County Hall Museum, Market Place, OX14 3HG, ☏ . 10AM-4PM. Free entry to museum, prices for access to the roof are: adults £2.00, children £0.50, concessions £1.00.
- 2 Abingdon Abbey. Benedictine monastery also known as St Mary's Abbey. Of the original Abbey complex, today only Abbey Gateway, the part of the Guildhall, and buildings beside the Millstream (the Long Gallery, the Checker, and what is now the Unicorn Theatre) survive. The Abbey Church no longer exists other than some archways in ruins that are a folly built in the 1920s.
- 3 Pendon Museum (Scale Model Museum), Long Wittenham, Abingdon. OX14 4QD (6 miles E of the town), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 4 JET, Road 8, Culham Science Park, OX14 3DB (take the train to Culham station), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Sa 9:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00; W 18:30-21:30. About 4 km south-east of Abingdon, one of mankind's most ambitious scientific experiments is concealed behind fences and tree rows. JET, the largest operational nuclear fusion reactor in the world, has been developed and continuously upgraded since it first reached criticality in 1984. Although it can only sustain fusion of deuterium for a few seconds before it overheats and needs to cool down again, experiments performed here changed the world's perception of nuclear fusion. Open days on Saturdays and open evenings on Wednesday nights are regularly organized, during which visitors get an introduction to fusion technology. A guided tour shows control room, robotics facilities, and of course a glimpse of the reactor itself. Not suitable for visitors with limited mobility or pacemakers. You must bring a photo ID, or will be refused entry to the site. Free.
- 1 Michaelmas & Runaway Fairs, Market Place & Ock St. Michaelmas: last Mon & Tues before 11 Oct each year midnight-10PM. Runaway: 1 week later.
- 2 Stonehill Riding School, Stonehill Cottage, Stonehill, Drayton, OX14 4AA, ☏ .
- 3 Drayton Park Golf Club, Steventon Rd, Drayton, OX14 4LA, ☏ .
- Abingdon Waterways Walk (8 mile circular walk). An illustrated book contains describes about the places you pass on the way and maps to make the route easy. Available from Mostly Books or The Bookstore in the town. £2.
- 4 Abingdon Bridge Marine (Day Boat Hire on River Thames), The Bridge off Bridge St, Abingdon, OX14 3HX, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Rowing boats & various sizes of day motor boats Rowing boat: £20 per hr to £100 per day. 6 person motor boat: £35 per hr to £175 per day. Other boats and prices available..
- 1 Mostly Books, 36 Stert Street, OX14 3JP, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-5PM. Small, friendly, independent bookshop which won Bookshop of the Year award in 2008.
- 2 The Bookstore, 14 Bury St, Abingdon, OX14 3QT, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-5:30PM.
- 3 Waitrose (Supermarket), Abbey Close, Abingdon, OX14 3HL, ☏ . M-F 7:30AM-9PM; Sa 7:30AM-8PM; Su 10AM-4PM.
- 4 Tesco (Superstore/supermarket), Marcham Rd Abingdon Oxfordshire OX14 1TU (By A34 junction for Abingdon), ☏ . M 6AM-midnight; Tu-Sa 24 hrs; Su 10AM-4PM. Petrol station (different hours). Pharmacy (different hours). ATMs. Wi-Fi.
- 1 Ock Mill Beefeater, Marcham Road, OX14 1AD, ☏ .
- 2 Spice Valley, 21-27 Ock Street, OX14 5AJ. Indian restaurant
- 3 The Boundary House, 69 Oxford Road, OX14 2AA.
- 4 Hugomangos (Thai restaurant), 12 Ock Street, Abingdon, OX14 5BZ, ☏ .
- 5 Dil Raj, 6 Ock Street, Abingdon., OX14 5AW, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily noon-2:30PM, 6PM-11:30PM.
- 6 White Hart, Main Road, Fyfield OX13 5LW (Off A420), ☏ . Tu-Su 12:00-23:00. Excellent food in a 15th century country gastropub.
- 1 The Kings Head & Bell (Pub & Restaurant), 10 East St Helens St, Abingdon, OX14 5EA, ☏ . M-W noon-11PM; Th noon-11:30PM; F Sa noon-12:30AM.
- 2 The Old Anchor (Riverside Pub with food), 1 St Helens Wharf, Abingdon, OX14 5EN, ☏ . Daily noon-late.
- 3 The Brewery Tap (Pub with food), 40-42 Ock St, Abingdon, OX14 5BZ, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Th 11AM-11:30PM; F-Sa 11AM-1AM; Su noon-11PM. CAMERA regional champion. Food (different hours)
- 4 The Spread Eagle (Pub (with food)), 20 Northcourt Rd, Abingdon, OX14 1PL (1½ miles from town centre), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 11AM-11:30PM; F 11AM-midnight; Sa Su 11AM-11:30PM.
- 5 Throwing Buns, 8 Market Place, Abingdon, OX14 3HG, ☏ . M-Sa 8:30AM-5PM; Su 9AM-4PM. Named after the Abingdon historic tradition of throwing fruit buns from County Hall,
- 1 Crown & Thistle Hotel, 18 Bridge St, OX14 3HS, ☏ .
- 2 Oxford Abingdon Hotel, Marcham Road, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. £38-110.
- 3 Abodes of Oxford B&B, 6 Blackman Close, Kennington, OX1 5NU (in Kennington, 4 miles north of Abingdon), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 4 Rowan Guest House, 42A Oxford Rd, Abingdon, OX14 2DZ, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 4AM-8:30AM, check-out: 10AM. Free Wi-Fi. Free on-site parking.
- 5 S Howard B&B, 22 East St Helen St, Abingdon, OX14 5EB, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Breakfast £10 per person. No breakfast at weekends (but use of shared kitchen). £45 single, £65 double. Lower rates for longer stays..
- 6 B&B Rafters, Abingdon Rd, Marcham OX13 6NU, ☏ . Stylish B&B with four rooms in Marcham village. No children under 12 or dogs. B&B double £80.
- Sutton Courtenay, about 2 miles south of Abingdon, where the author George Orwell (Eric Blair) is buried.
|Routes through Abingdon-on-Thames|
|Oxford ←||N S||→ Didcot → Southampton|