Abingdon Abbey Buildings

Visiting the Abbey Buildings

Opening times and tours

Abingdon Abbey Buildings are open to the public for heritage visits
from May to September
on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday
between 2.30 and 4.30 pm.

Entry is free (donations are invited), but there may be a charge for guided tours.

Visitors may take a self-guided tour with the aid of our printed tour leaflet and the information paddles available in each room of the buildings.

Heritage visitors focus on different aspects of our history and therefore, depending on the individual, the time required for a visit ranges from about 20 minutes to an hour.

Tours guided by our dedicated volunteers are also available upon request. Please contact us for more information.

NB: The ‘ruins’ in the Abbey Gardens are not part of the Abbey Buildings, but a nineteenth-century gothic folly.

Getting here

Car parking at the Abbey Buildings is very limited so you are advised to come by bus or park in a public car park.

Location of Abbey Buildings

Buses

There are frequent buses to Abingdon from Oxford (bus stop in St Aldate’s). Alight in the High Street, walk back past the Museum, cross Bridge Street, and walk through the Abbey Gateway directly in front of you. Bear right along Abbey Close, and take the second right down Checker Walk. The Buildings are at the end of this cul-de-sac.

Driving

A34 southbound: exit at Abingdon North and follow signs to the Town Centre.

A34 northbound: exit at Abingdon South and follow signs to the Town Centre.

If you are coming from the south via the A415 it is best to park before crossing Abingdon Bridge. Walk over the bridge and turn right into Thames Street. At the end of Thames Street turn left up the steps and through the covered pathway. The entrance to the Buildings is on the right.

Accessibility

Unfortunately parts of the buildings are not easy to access at present. There is room for two wheelchairs in the Unicorn Theatre and the Lower Hall is accessible via a ramp. However, all other areas can only be accessed by stairs. One of the main aims of our Enhancement Project is to remedy this situation.

Guided tours for groups

A variety of groups of all ages from many locations visit the Abingdon Abbey Buildings each year to see the historic remains of the abbey. With the help of our dedicated volunteers, the Buildings typically welcome almost two thousand guests on our regular Open Days and scheduled appointment tours.

Tours of various lengths from 20 minutes to two hours can be arranged, and can also include St. Nicolas Church, the Abbey Gardens and/or the Cosener’s House Gardens where two precious artefacts of the abbey remain.

Educational tours

Many of our visitors each year are children who are visiting the Abbey Buildings for the first time with their school. In 2019 there were thirteen school visits to the Buildings, and several chose to focus on a particular theme such as ‘The Life of a Monk’ or ‘The Role of the River’. Tours of various lengths from 20 minutes to two hours can be arranged, and can also include St. Nicolas Church, the Abbey Gardens and/or the Cosener’s House Gardens.

Our volunteer monk is also happy to visit local schools and make a virtual presentation of the Abbey Buildings in school.

Please contact us to plan your class visit to the Abbey Buildings or for more information about scheduling the monk.

Brother Tim gave a fascinating insight into the life of a monk, telling us about his typical day and answering students’ questions.

We learnt a lot about what Medieval people ate and were surprised to find out that their diet might have been healthier than ours today.

– Students in Years 7/8

Although it has been some time since your visit, I found that children recalled many interesting points about your talk. They remembered the monk coming from the Abbey in Abingdon and that your wife spoke about food and was a food historian. Your visit was fun, engaging and memorable and we very much hope that we will be able to visit the Abbey Buildings when we are able.

As a local educator I feel that the Abbey Buildings are a unique and amazing resource that should be supported to better facilitate educational learning for the children and young people of Abingdon. The buildings, along with their current curator, bring history alive and would deepen the understanding and knowledge of the Abbey’s place in Abingdon’s history.

History may be about the past but learning about history informs our understanding of humanity and is the key to how we need to live now and in the future. 

From the National Curriculum 2014: “History helps pupils to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.”

– Head Teacher, Primary School

Merchandise

Ken Messer print

We have a small selection of merchandise on sale at the Abbey Buildings, including mugs, tea towels, fridge magnets, and cards and prints of two paintings of the Buildings by local artist Ken Messer, including the one shown here. We also have a selection of books on the Abbey Buildings and on the history of Abingdon-on-Thames.