Market town in Oxfordshire, south-central England, at the confluence of the River Ock with the Thames, 10 km/6 mi south of Oxford; population (2001) 36,000. Light industries include Brewing, printing, and the manufacture of electronic and scientific instruments. The remains of a Benedictine abbey, founded in 675, include the 14th-century Checker Hall, now restored as an Elizabethan-type theatre, the 16th-century Long Gallery, and the 15th-century gateway.
The County Hall (1677–82) houses a local museum. Other historic buildings include the Long Alley almshouses (1446). The Thames is a focal point for recreational activities in the town, such as angling, pleasure cruises, and riverside gardens. The Monday market has existed since 1556.
History It is believed that Abingdon was settled during the Bronze and Iron ages, and was a flourishing town during the Roman period. Earliest documents tell of a hamlet called Sevekesham in the same location. Abingdon may be the oldest continually inhabited town in England. The abbey was largely destroyed in 1538 at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when about 800 monastic houses in England and Wales were closed and their property confiscated by Henry VIII. Abingdon was the county town of Berkshire until 1870.
Features The Perpendicular St Helen's church has a late 14th-century painted roof and five aisles, making it wider than it is long. The Guildhall, built in 1678, houses an art gallery. Part of the old grammar school, founded in 1563, is preserved. The 15th-century bridge was reconstructed in 1929.