Old Abbey House
Although it is not listed, Old Abbey House is one of Abingdon’s many heritage buildings and occupies an important site in the Town Centre Conservation Area and on the edge of the Abbey Gardens Scheduled Monument. Details of its history can be found on the Town Council website.
It has lain empty and visibly deteriorating since 2014 and The Friends of Abingdon Civic Society were actively engaged from then on in trying to persuade the District Council (who own it) to preserve and find a new use for it. Three applications were made for it to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, but all were refused.
At the beginning of August 2020, the District Council announced that it was testing the market to see if there were any potential buyers, but in parallel would be discussing with the Civic Society whether there was a community-based alternative.
No discussions took place, so in September 2020 the Civic Society submitted a 12-page proposal to the Vale for an Arts and Community Centre. The Executive summary can be read here. Despite continued requests, the Vale refused to discuss the matter with us and in late October 2020 commercial bids were invited. The Civic Society submitted a bid, but it was not accepted and in February 2021 it was announced that Old Abbey House had been sold to a local builder for conversion to a boutique hotel.
The Civic Society is glad that a future has been identified for this very special building which will enable it to add to the vitality of this part of the town. We are also pleased that the developers intend to protect its original features and that the garden will remain part of Abingdon’s public open space and will watch its progress with interest.