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Abingdon-on-Thames is in Oxfordshire on the River Thames about 7 miles south of Oxford.

St Helen's Church and the River Thames at Abingdon


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.

Get in[edit]

By road[edit]

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[edit]

  • By rail to Oxford, then by bus.

By bus[edit]

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.

By boat[edit]

By bicycle[edit]

Get around[edit]

Map of Abingdon-on-Thames

The town is small enough to be seen on foot.


Abbey Ruins
Abingdon Abbey
  • 1 Abingdon County Hall Museum, Market Place, OX14 3HG, +44 1235 523703. 10AM-4PM. Free entry to museum, prices for access to the roof are: adults £2.00, children £0.50, concessions £1.00. Abingdon County Hall Museum (Q4667824) on Wikidata Abingdon County Hall Museum on Wikipedia
  • 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. Abingdon Abbey (Q2820496) on Wikidata Abingdon Abbey on Wikipedia
  • 3 Pendon Museum (Scale Model Museum), Long Wittenham, Abingdon. OX14 4QD (6 miles E of the town), +44 1865 407365, . Pendon Museum (Q15265866) on Wikidata Pendon Museum on Wikipedia
JET, the largest operational nuclear fusion reactor in the world, at Culham Science Park
  • 4 JET, Road 8, Culham Science Park, OX14 3DB (take the train to Culham station), +44 1235 528822, . 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. Joint European Torus (Q1702534) on Wikidata Joint European Torus on Wikipedia


  • 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, +44 1235 529915.
  • 3 Drayton Park Golf Club, Steventon Rd, Drayton, OX14 4LA, +44 1235 528989.
  • 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, +44 1235 521125, . 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, +44 1235 525880. 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, +44 1235 539200. M-Sa 9AM-5:30PM.


  • 3 Waitrose (Supermarket), Abbey Close, Abingdon, OX14 3HL, +44 1235 535003. 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), +44 345 677 8994. M 6AM-midnight; Tu-Sa 24 hrs; Su 10AM-4PM. Petrol station (different hours). Pharmacy (different hours). ATMs. Wi-Fi.



  • 1 The Kings Head & Bell (Pub & Restaurant), 10 East St Helens St, Abingdon, OX14 5EA, +44 1235 525362. 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, +44 1235 412669. Daily noon-late.
  • 3 The Brewery Tap (Pub with food), 40-42 Ock St, Abingdon, OX14 5BZ, +44 1235 521655, . 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), +44 1235 521594, . M-Th 11AM-11:30PM; F 11AM-midnight; Sa Su 11AM-11:30PM.
  • 5 Throwing Buns, 8 Market Place, Abingdon, OX14 3HG, +44 1235 533 656. M-Sa 8:30AM-5PM; Su 9AM-4PM. Named after the Abingdon historic tradition of throwing fruit buns from County Hall,


Go next[edit]

Routes through Abingdon-on-Thames
Oxford  N UK road A34.svg S  DidcotSouthampton

This city travel guide to Abingdon-on-Thames is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.