On Monday 16 March 2020 the Studio Theatre Club was rehearsing in the Unicorn Theatre, preparing for their opening night, when the first Covid-19 lockdown was announced and the show was cancelled. STC left the Buildings and they have been closed ever since – in hibernation. Apart from two highly sanitized wedding ceremonies, there have been no events in the Abbey Buildings for a whole year. Other than the gardeners, an occasional maintenance man, and the curator, only the spirits of the monks have seen the inside of the Buildings.
As restrictions were successively loosened and tightened, our hopes as to when the Buildings might be opened again rose and fell. Christmas and New Year came and went before we finally learned that, unless the guidelines change again, there is now a plan in place to allow us to emerge from hibernation.
Weddings in the Abbey Buildings will resume on 1 May. Only 15 guests will be allowed to attend but that number will increase to 30 on 17 May. Finally, after 21 June 21, unless the guidelines change, all lockdown restrictions will end and the Buildings will return to a full schedule. On 23 June, we will reopen to the public for the first time since September 2019. The first show in the Unicorn will take place on 30 July. Concerts will resume in September and we expect to host the Craft Fair in November and the Abingdon Beer Festival in December.
In many ways, the Buildings are a living site. Living things need to rest periodically and perhaps the ancient Abingdon Abbey Buildings needed time to relax. Hibernation may have been a time of rejuvenation. Flowers have grown without being picked and lovely green moss has appeared between the stones in the path.
We sincerely invite you, our visitors, patrons, and guests, to return to enjoy the Abbey Buildings as they emerge from hibernation.