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Abingdon Town Council

Abingdon County Hall Museum

The County Hall & Museum Collection

“There is no instance of a man before Gibbons who gave to wood the look and airy lightness of flowers”
Horace Walpole, 1783
County Hall from the Air

One of Abingdon’s oldest and most beautiful buildings, the County Hall was built between 1678 and 1684 by Christopher Kempster, a protege of Sir Christopher Wren. It was built to house the Berkshire Assize Courts, the location for 200 years of some of the County’s most important criminal trials. For example, a man named Dennis Collins, arrested at Ascot Races for throwing a stone at His Majesty King William IV, had his trial at Abingdon on Wednesday 22nd August, 1832. Collins’ sentence of death was commuted to transportation for life!

In 1919, on 17th February, three local men offered their collections of local objects on loan to Abingdon Borough Council to enable the setting up of a museum in the town. Mr John West, Dr P. Martin and Mr Thomas Townsend donated:

25 cases of geology and minerals
10 cases of shells and corals
14 cases of zoological exhibits
5 human skeletons found when excavating the basement of a local inn

In addition, the museum stores a selection of craft from the former Southern Arts Collection, donated to the County in 1998. This comprises 90 pieces including work by Kate Malone, Alan Caiger-Smith, Wendy Ramshaw, Jim Partridge and Lubna Chowdhary.

The items on display include:

Some items from the collection are available in an online database.

See also history and research from English Heritage.

©2012 Abingdon County Hall Museum