Abingdon Abbey Buildings

Vale of White Horse

Type:Historic Site

Checker Walk, Mattock Way, ABINGDON, Oxfordshire, OX14 2PQ

Tel: 01235 525339

Abingdon Abbey Buildings

About

Abingdon Abbey Buildings are the well-preserved domestic buildings of the Abbey of Abingdon, which was originally founded as a small monastery in the 7th century and eventually became one of the most important and wealthy abbeys in England during the Middle Ages. The Great Abbey Church of St Mary and the other ecclesiastical buildings were demolished in 1538 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  Unusually, the domestic buildings survived as they had a commercial value. The buildings had various uses in subsequent centuries ranging from corn mills to a brewery to slum dwellings. In 1944 they were scheduled for demolition, but a charity, the Friends of Abingdon, was formed to save them from the wrecking ball and to repair and restore them as much as possible. The results can be seen in today’s Abingdon Abbey Buildings.

The existing Buildings comprise the Checker Hall (now the Unicorn Theatre), the East and West Checkers, the Long Gallery, the Lower Gallery and the Undercroft.  The Checker Hall (originally the granary) dates from the 15th century and has a fine wooden roof which was revealed when the building was restored. It was converted into a small Elizabethan-style theatre in the 1950s. The East and West Checkers date from 1270 and were originally a single large room which provided ample accommodation for the Abbey Treasurer.  This room was divided into two in 1340.  The Checker chimney is one of the best surviving examples of a medieval chimney. The Undercroft beneath the Checkers is a fine vaulted room which has served various purposes including being a wine cellar.  The building now known as the Long Gallery dates from the late 15th century. The original layout of the upper floor was very different from that existing today. It consisted of a series of rooms accessed from a passage along the north side. Although this layout is similar to that of a medieval inn, it is not clear whether this was the original purpose. An imposing fireplace on the south side near the east end and a painting on the plaster above one of the cross beams suggest that if it was a lodging, it may have been reserved for more important visitors to the abbey. Alternatively, it may have been converted into a comfortable dwelling house after the Dissolution. 

There is a small garden behind the Long Gallery which borders the Millstream, which was constructed in the 10th century during the rebuilding of the abbey under the supervision of Abbot Ethelwold.   
 

Book Tickets

Facilities

Accessibility

  • Facilities for Hearing Impaired Visitors - The curator is fluent in British Sign Language
  • Guide Dogs Permitted
  • Parking Areas for Disabled Visitors
  • Ramp/Level Access - Lower floors only
  • Wheelchair user accessible - Very limited access to Unicorn Theatre and Lower Gallery. Easy access to gardens

Establishment Features

  • Licensed for weddings & ceremonies
  • Toilets

Parking & Transport

  • Parking (charge) - Nearby public parking (5 – 10 minute walk)
  • Parking (free) - Limited spaces. Please ask before arriving.

Payment Methods

  • American Express accepted
  • Approx length of visit - From half an hour to two hours
  • Groups Accepted
  • MasterCard accepted
  • Max group size - 50
  • Open by appointment outside normal opening times - Contact the curator – curator@abingdonabbeybuildings.co.uk
  • Visa accepted

Provider Preferences

  • In town/city centre
  • Indoor Attraction
  • No Smoking Attraction

TripAdvisor

Map & Directions

Road Directions

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. Public parking Is available at the Abbey Meadow car park.   If you are coming from the south via the A415 it is best to park at Rye Farm car 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.  

Public Transport Directions

There are frequent buses (X1 and X3) to Abingdon from Oxford (bus stop in St Aldate’s). Alight in Abingdon 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.

Awards

  • Tourism South East Award -Tourism South East Member 23/24 - Bronze Tourism South East Member 23/24 - Bronze 2023

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