About Us – Our Aims

The Friends of Abingdon was formed in the latter years of World War II in response to a growing realisation that much of historic worth was under threat due to neglect and the general clearances in the town. The aims of the society at that time were:

  • To arouse in all the people of Abingdon and neighbourhood a lively and practical interest in the town and its setting.

  • To help preserve what is best worth retaining amongst its old buildings and to encourage new building worthy of its civic traditions and character.

A major task of the society has been the renovation and subsequent maintenance of the Abbey Buildings, many of which are scheduled ancient monuments. They include the Unicorn Theatre, a vibrant centre of cultural activities in Abingdon, and the Long Gallery, a superb spring and summer venue for wedding receptions and parties. Abingdon’s twice-yearly Craft Fairs also make a valuable contribution to the funding required to maintain the buildings.

In addition, the Friends of Abingdon acts as a community watchdog, vetting and responding to planning applications throughout the local area, and mounting or co-operating on projects of concern in Abingdon. The Society is a member of Civic Voice, the national association for civic societies, which provides information and support and aims to “work to make the places where everyone lives more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive, and to promote civic pride”.

In 2018 the Trustees decided that the charity should be divided into two separate Charitable Incorporated Organisations, one to care for the Abbey Buildings and one to undertake the Civic Society role. This decision was endorsed by the members and the two new CIOs were registered with the Charity Commission in May 2019.

The decision to wind up the original charity was confirmed at a Special General Meeting on 31 July 2019 and its assets will be divided between the two new charities, the Friends of Abingdon Abbey Buildings Trust and the Friends of Abingdon Civic Society. Existing members will, if they wish, remain members of both charities, but new members will only belong to the Civic Society.

Both charities have exciting plans for the future and are developing new websites: the Civic Society website is here and when the Buldings Trust site is ready this one will be replaced.