Abingdon’s oldest and most beautiful buildings, the County Hall
was built between 1678 and 1684 by
Christopher Kempster, a
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:
Monk's Map, a 16th-century map of the River Thames around
A reproduction of the
a late Anglo-Saxon iron sword and hilt of the late 9th or early 10th century (original held by the Asmolean Museum).
- The last MGB car off the production line at Abingdon.
Some items from the collection are available in an online database.
See also history and research from English Heritage.