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Abingdon Town Council

Abingdon County Hall Museum

Previous Exhibitions

'Portrait by William Watkin Waite' and
'Waiting for Gifts at Christ's Hospital, Abingdon by William Teulon Blandfor-Fletcher, 1900-09'

View of the new main gallery


The County Hall Museum relaunched on 7th July 2012.
See The New Museum page for developments while the museum has been closed.


Exhibitions since relaunching:


  • Shooting on the Front Line: One soldier’s war in Afghanistan, 15 December 2012 - 27 January 2013. Evocative photographs of the unseen lives of soldiers in Helmand Province taken by Major Paul Smyth in 2009.

  • Buns for All: An Abingdon Tradition, 7 July - 4 November 2012. A celebration of Abingdon’s traditional bun throwing from the roof of the County Hall.

  • MG: A Marque in Miniature, 7 July - 4 November 2012. MG model cars and a variety of memorabilia to mark the 50th anniversary of the MGB sports car in 2012.

  • The First Diamond Jubilee, 7 July - 4 November 2012. A look back at Queen Victoria’s 60th year as monarch and the first ever Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Exhibitions before relaunching:


15th May - 31st October 2010

This was one of Abingdon County Hall Museum's final exhibitions before the multi-million pound redevelopment of the County Hall and the redisplay of the galleries in the Museum.  This exhibition gave visitors an insight into the potential design ideas for the new permanent display areas planned for the Sessions Hall gallery.


Telling the story of the last twenty-six centuries of Abingdon, and demonstrating the town's claim to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in England, there will be a mixture of historic objects from the collections of the Museum and Abingdon Town Council.  Around these will be stories, information and images relating to the various personalities, events and experiences that make Abingdon so special, both to visitors to the town and its loyal residents.


The displays themselves will try to give possible ideas of the style of the state-of-the-art exhibition approach that will be taken following the Museum's redevelopment.  Each part of the exhibition will follow a different style and this will give the public an opportunity to voice their own opinions on how they would like the Museum displays to look following the work.

15th May - 31st October 2010

This was a brand new exhibition never seen elsewhere, specifically created for Abingdon museum by Abingdon museum.  This exhibition will bring to light another important time period of Abingdon history plus general Stuart history, life and society.  This is a follow up exhibition from the previous Tudor exhibition in May-September 2009.


The Stuarts are another very important part of British and Abingdon history from 1603 with the crowning of James I and ending with the death of Anne of Great Britain in 1714.  The Stuarts continued a time period of complex history including religious quarrels inherited from the Tudors, civil war and absolute monarchy, stability of the country and union of the crowns, execution of a King, exile, politics, fashion and architecture.


The history of the Stuarts is vast and complex but Abingdon was very much at the centre of Stuart life.  From these complex times many fascinating artefacts have survived to tell the story of an important part of British and Abingdon history.  The vast majority of artefacts in the exhibition are either from Abingdon museum or other Abingdon collections and will not have been seen before, thus giving the public a rare glimpse and understanding of this time period. The exhibition is focused to accommodate people of all ages so everyone can benefit including children.


This exhibition will look at the complex history of the Stuarts from all angles including prominent people, architecture, civil war, union of the crowns, food, fashion, religion, children, politics, Kings, Queens and much more.

16th January - 9th May 2010

Abingdon has been a home to many artists.  It has also been a muse to many more.  This new exhibition at Abingdon County Hall Museum will give visitors the opportunity to see various works by artists from the town, interspersed with views of Abingdon, and its residents, by artists from

further afield.  There will also be a range of different art forms on display.  Portraits, scenic and architectural views are all featured, and even different types of craft inspired by the Abingdon area, or made by its residents, will be shown


The form of this exhibition will also consider the old and the new.  There will be a mixture throughout the gallery of works from the town's own collection as well as a number of pieces lent by local collectors and national organisations.  These will sit amongst a number of contemporary works by local artists, many depicting images of Abingdon, some highlighting the more unusual and creative views available in this picturesque area. Surrounded by the splendour of the 17th century former court room, these artworks will be able to do justice to the space and equally the Museum will be a wonderful location to view these pieces

Some of the local artists included in the exhibition are: William Watkin Waite, Oswald Couldrey and James Allen Shuffrey. Other artists who have been inspired by Abingdon include: Albert Newcome, William Blandford Fletcher and JMW Turner. There are a number of local contemporary artists: Katherine Shock, JAX and Peter Bellingham amongst them. This range of artists will provide a wide variety of artistic styles and techniques to be seen, all with links to the town of Abingdon.

11th September - 10th January 2010

The story of this iconic building has been over 300 years in the telling.  Completed in 1682, the County Hall in Abingdon has been a courtroom, a venue for plays, penny readings and other events, as well as a home for political debates.  Since 1920 it has been the home of Abingdon's museum, with significant collections of geology, archaeology and social history.  But most of all it represents the town, indeed leads the town.  The County Hall is about to undergo a restoration, a multi-million pound refurbishment that will preserve the quality of this classic building, while truly allowing it to be enjoyed by all walks of life for generations to come.

This exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to look at the building and its history from a number of different angles.  From the times of Assize Sessions and the County Hall's use as a courtroom, through to the twentieth century change to a museum space, much of the building's life will be displayed.  Alongside this, an assessment of the architecture will be shown, with images of external details, internal features, away from regular public access, and how the design has changed over time.  There will also be various finds on display from the 1950s restoration as well as archaeological digs in the area surrounding the County Hall.

The public will also be given the opportunity to view some of the ongoing design work for the planned redevelopment of the County Hall, as well as ideas and images showing how newly opened up and used areas could look.  This information will be displayed throughout the exhibition run, giving everyone plenty of time to come and see the work being done.

The County Hall is a vital element of the centre of Abingdon, physically towering over the Market Place.  This exhibition will show why it is also emotionally important to the residents of this market town, and has been throughout its life.

16th May - 6th September 2009

This new exhibition and has never been seen elsewhere, it will bring to light an important time period of Abingdon history and general Tudor history, life and society.


The Tudors are a very important part of British history from 1485 with the crowning of Henry VII and ending with the death of his granddaughter Elizabeth I in 1603.  The Tudors brought about a time period of complex history including exploration, religious changes, offspring and inheritance issues, stability and downfall to the country, uproar and scandal.


The history of the Tudors is vast and complex but Abingdon was very much at the centre of Tudor life and from these ancient times many fascinating artefacts have survived to tell the story of a very important part of British history.  Many artefacts in the exhibition are either from Abingdon or the Oxfordshire area and will not have been seen before at Abingdon museum thus giving the public a rare glimpse and understanding of this time period.  The exhibition is focused on accommodating people of all ages so everyone can benefit from it.


This exhibition will look at the rich and complex Tudor history from all angles including prominent Tudor people, food, clothing, religion, children, kings and queens, law and much more.

7th March - 10th May 2009

Having begun it's tour at Oxfordshire Museum at Woodstock, come and welcome the 70's returning back to Abingdon, organised by Hampshire and Oxfordshire County Museum Services.  Marvel at the styles and colours of an underappreciated time. Wonder at the designs and technology on offer thirty years ago.

A series of boards displaying timelines and facts, on different aspects of life in the 1970s, from music and sport to television and toys, form the backbone of this exhibition.  Around these will be specially produced display cases, containing a variety of period objects, as well as original examples of the fashions of the day.

Reminisce around re-creations of a bedroom, a living room and a kitchen.  Sit on the 'sound sofa' and listen to memories of the time.  Look at some of the objects and events that made this such an unforgettable decade.


7th March - 10th May 2009

Travel back in time through a variety of historic objects from Abingdon's fascinating past. Starting in the nineteenth century, this exhibition covers some of the most important buildings, institutions, people and events of the town's lifetime.  Follow the story of Abingdon right back to the time when dinosaurs stalked the earth, and swam in the seas that existed where Oxfordshire now lies.

This small exhibition will tell the tale of Abingdon's long history, and will potentially act as a spur for a larger, and hopefully permanent, display for visitors to the town, and residents, to learn more about this important human settlement.

More of Abingdon: Past and Present

Abingdon County Hall Museum is proud to be able to sell this volume of photographs of Abingdon's streets, parks and buildings in its shop.  Covering the wider environs of the town, this new book expands on its predecessor, 'Abingdon: Past and Present', by providing fascinating comparisons of some of the town's more residential and industrial areas, then and now.

12th November 2008 - 1st March 2009

Henry Taunt (1852-1922) was one of the most prolific photographers of the Victorian age. His favourite subject was the river Thames and Graham Diprose and Jeff Robins have returned to photograph Taunt’s scenes 135 years later. Taken from Henry Taunt’s ‘A New Map of the River Thames’, published in the 1870s, his photographs alongside the superb contemporary images Diprose and Robins have created a fascinating exhibition and book that ‘at once evokes a vanished world and captures the beauty of a timeless landscape’.

12th November 2008 - 1st March 2009

Bill Pike’s waterscape paintings capture ‘Optimal visual moments, when the most-beautifully-coloured reflections...combine with intriguing wave-form compositions, and...natural tidal effects, eddying, upwelling and the fluid dynamics of water in motion’.

6th September - 9th November 2008

The exhibition takes you through 37 years of unbroken creativity via photographs, sketches, silken fabrics, embroidery samples and publicity artwork.  Most wonderful of all is the collection of beautiful clothes, reminiscent of the wings of a butterfly in a difficult fashion world, still beating and still captivating people with their exquisite manufacture.

17th May - 31st August 2008

Racing and Trials

MGs taking part in Trials, or Mudplugging, as it is sometimes called, continue to follow Cecil Kimber’s lead when he took ‘Old Number One’ on the London to Lands end Trial in 1923.  

Racing is also in the blood of many MG owners.  The pre-war racing heritage was taken up again in 1955 when a team of MGAs took part in the 24 hours of Le Mans. The enthusiasm is still high even throughout the MG’s dormant years.

Record Breaking  

The challenge of breaking records was taken up when Austin cars announced their intention to have the first car with a 750cc engine to break 100mph.  An M Type MG Midget was hastily prepared to beat them to it, which Capt. George Eyston accomplished in 1931 with the car that  became known as the Magic Midget.  

The final MG record which still stands in 2008 for a car with a 1500cc engine is 254.91mph in a special designated EX181 powered by a 1506cc Twin Cam engine.  This figure co-incidentally is almost the same as Sir Malcolm Cambell achieved in setting the World Land Speed record in 1932 with his massive 1450 hp Bluebird.  


The Racing heritage of the MG factory in Abingdon made it the obvious place to site the centre for all competition Work in BMC, and The Morley brothers driving an MGA Coupe won the GT category on the Monte Carlo Rally in 1962 and again in 1964 with an MGB GT. BMC cars continued to dominate International Rallying throughout the 1960s with Abingdon prepared Austin-Healeys and Mini Coopers.  

24th May - 31st August 2008

On the 4th October 1883 at the North Woodside Mission Hall in Glasgow, the first Boys' Brigade Company was formed.  It was not realised at the time what this small local uniformed youth organisation would lead to.  It was not until 1887 that the Boys' Brigade arrived in Oxford.  In that year it was reported that the BB had 14 Companies operating in London and 7 in Oxford.  It all started in Oxford at the church of St Peter-le-Bailey now the chapel of St Peters College.

May 2008

William Watkin Waite was born and spent most of his life in Abingdon. He was of a local family and became an engraver and etcher as well as a miniaturist, exhibiting four miniatures at the Royal Academy. He was twice married, first to Martha Edgington (1788-1821) and then to Virtue Wilkins (1797-1848).

1st March - 27th April 2008

Betty Blandino is a nationally known potter with work in many collections including the V&A. She uses the age-old technique of building up pots from coils which she has developed by using a unique coiling and pinching technique to create thin-walled abstract vessel forms. The exhibition included work from the past and present. Some of the works are for sale.

1st March - 27th April 2008

Oxford Scribes formed in 1984 and has grown into one of the country’s largest regional calligraphy groups, including beginners, amateurs, professionals and internationally-recognised lettering artists. Both traditional and modern experimental lettering by individual calligraphers will be on display in 30 cases. There will be original cards for sale.

12th January - 27th February 2008

Life in Ock Street, Abingdon, told vividly through its people and their activities, with memorabilia covering the Events, Customs and Traditions, and the Trades, Professions and Businesses of this historic street.

December 2007

Our Christmas exhibition this year incorporated a small stage and cafe-style tables. There were Family Friendly activities for children and families every day after Christmas.

13th September - 19th November 2007    

(Courtesy of the Oxford Embroiderers’ Workshop, joined by the Young EmbroiderersGroup) 
A small selection of our contemporary craft collection and historic textiles were also on display during this exhibition.

6th July - 9th September 2007

(Loan exhibition courtesy of the Oxfordshire Museum Service)

Samuel Ireland’s Engravings of the Thames near Abingdon” (Loan exhibition courtesy of the Centre for Oxfordshire Studies)

People of the Thames - A Photographic Journey

(Loan exhibition courtesy of photographer Jil Orpen and writer Charlotte Gerlings)

30th June 2007 - 1st July 2007

(Courtesy of Abingdon Flower Club)

3rd March 2007 - 24th June 2007

(Loan exhibition courtesy of the Oxfordshire Museum Service)

3rd March - 24th June 2007

(Loan collection courtesy of Jacqui Humphries)

6th January - 28th February 2007

Oxfordshire Geology (Loan exhibition courtesy of the Oxfordshire Geology Trust)

Mary Morland - An Abingdon Geologist (Loan collection courtesy of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History)

©2012 Abingdon County Hall Museum