Top places to live in Oxfordshire Abingdon-on-Thames
This historic market town, five miles south of Oxford, offers bang for your buck with riverside walks and excellent schools aplenty. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
Offering a pretty riverside location without the killer price tag (we’re looking at you, Henley), this bustling market town has historic buildings aplenty, decent eating out options, as well as being a hotspot for outstanding schools.
Perched on Abingdon Bridge, The Nag’s Head is a classic, cosy British pub with its own garden island jetting out into the Thames – a lovely spot to watch the boats glide by. Also in the town centre is The Crown & Thistle, a stylishly renovated bar and restaurant with rooms, and Mexican restaurant Dorindo’s – it’s a little rough around the edges but has a buzzy vibe ideal for families and large groups of friends. For a proper foodie affair, head to nearby village Fyfield (13 minutes in the car) to impressive 2 AA Rosette gastropub The White Hart, or for a night on the town try Muddy Award-winning The Tipsy Mercer, a lovely independent bar with a cocktail list to boot and live music.
There’s also a clutch of indie cafés in the area including newly opened The Missing Bean (excellent coffee and bread from local bakeries); neighbouring Java and R&R on Market Place (both great for kids); charming Throwing Buns which nods to the town’s tradition of throwing buns from the county hall and Annie’s at the Boathouse, right on the Thames – it’s ideal for picking up a takeaway coffee on a riverside walk.
As well as a Waitrose (natch), Abingdon-on-Thames has several independent shops peppered around the town centre including bookshop Mostly Books (another Muddy Award-winner), eclectic homewares store The Finishing Touch, excellent florist Fabulous Flowers and sweet haberdashery Masons. Wells Farm Shop & Café is just a short drive from the centre with a range of local produce and amazing cheese selection. For high street big hitters you will want to head 20 minutes in to central Oxford to the Westgate Centre (Oliver Bonas, John Lewis, COS, Zara, Mango et al.).
Headline history includes Abingdon Abbey which is open to visitors in the summer months and is home to the Unicorn Theatre. There’s also an independent cinema in the town, Abbey Cinema with plush seats and a food and drink menu to enjoy alongside the film. Boat, kayak and paddleboard hire is available at AV Boats, on Abingdon Bridge, where you can glide down the river past the pretty Abbey Meadows (lovey walks and plenty of opportunities to feed the ducks) with its outdoor swimming pool. Or, a little way from the centre of town is Millets Farm, a wholesome day out for families with a decent farm shop, garden centre, soft play, bird of prey centre and farm animals, plus Oxford is under a 20 minute drive.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
Getting on the property ladder in Abingdon-on-Thames will cost an average of £365,561 with detached houses most expensive at £510,842, followed by semi-detached at £355,572, and terraced homes at £322,828.
Abingdon is a hotspot for excellent nearby schools including several single sex options. For girls, there’s Didcot Girls’ School, the only all girls’ state school in Oxfordshire (with a co-ed Sixth Form) rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and St.Helen’s & St.Katherine, which regularly tops the national exam result leagues. For boys there’s homely, high-achieving Cothill House; Abingdon School, a leading day/boarding school; Radley College, one of the top all boys boarding schools in the country with facilities and fees to match. Co-eds include ‘Outstanding’ primary state Thomas Reade, a teaching school (so helps raise standards in other schools) with excellent sports results; Our Lady’s Abingdon, a Catholic day school with a nurturing environment; The Manor Prep co-ed day school which boasts fabulous ISI reports (excellent across the board); Chandlings, a friendly day school in 60 verdant acres and The Unicorn School, a small, nurturing specialist school for kids with dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia – now offering GSCEs.
BEST KEPT SECRET
The rock band Radiohead formed at Abingdon School in 1985.
There’s no train station in Abingdon but there are several routes into London. You can either drive 20 minutes to Didcot where the fastest train is 37 minutes; drive 10 minutes to Radley where the fastest train is 51 minutes or drive 20 mins to Oxford where the fastest train is 47 minutes. Driving into the capital takes around 1 hour 44 minutes.
View the full Top 200 Best Places to Live
In association with