Concert with the Wantage Male Voice Choir – 20 April 2013

ChoirFor our last fund raising effort for the Museum Appeal, the Wantage Male Voice Choir came and gave a concert in the beautiful setting of St. Helen’s Church. With their conductor Cathie and accompanist Lorraine, 25 men sang a range of popular songs, old and new, from the musicals and by much-loved composers, taking full advantage of the great acoustics. There were several solos, some of which were sung, others recited, and the programme was varied in both mood and pace. For the “Song of the Jolly Roger”, formality was thrown to the winds as eye patches, pirate hats and even a parrot were produced. Drinks and good conversation peppered the interval in which the bar dispensed the drinks included in the price of the ticket and members of the Choir mingled with the audience to increase the intimacy of the occasion. There was a very good turnout and the audience enjoyed it all. It was a most successful event, raising just over £700; this will be doubled by the Lottery Fund. An enormous thank you to the Choir and to everyone who came and helped.

Fish & Chip Supper Quiz – 16 March 2013

This year’s Quiz took place yet again to a packed house. Lots of new faces in the crowd showed the event has taken off like a rocket and it was a sell-out before the tickets went on general sale. Despite the odd remark that some of the questions were hard (who can’t tell the difference between the feet of a camel and those of a giraffe?), and the Quizmaster getting an answer wrong through overwork (at least that’s her excuse!), there was a great atmosphere helped, no doubt, by many visits to the bar. The fish and chips arrived on time this year, although the designated collectors couldn’t find the van and were rushing round the area desperately trying to locate it, and were delicious. Many thanks to all those who contributed to the raffle, both with prizes and with ticket purchases, and to our anonymous donor who gave the prizes for everyone on the winning table. This year the losers each received a small Easter egg, but the battle was close fought and everyone did well. We raised over £300 and this will be matched by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Well worth the effort and a big “thank you” to the Friends’ Committee who worked so hard to make this a great evening.

Open Gardens – 30 June 2012

gardenphoto2012smallFor the third time in 2 years, our Saturday Open Gardens event took place in dry weather, certainly almost miraculous this year. With 3 gardens to relax in and enjoy in East St. Helen Street, many people took advantage and came to admire the splendid array of colour and the luxurious lawns that the gardens offered. The roses, particularly, seemed to have flourished in the wet and cool conditions and their wonderful displays were remarked upon and photographed with great enthusiasm. St Ethelwold’s offered us the Garden Room to provide a place to have refreshments, and many visitors took their delicious cakes out into the fresh air and enjoyed the river views. The event made £550 which will be doubled by the Heritage Lottery Fund. So a worthwhile effort from the gardeners, who battled against all the odds to get their colourful havens looking so beautiful in time for the day. And who also sat at the door and explained to everyone how they manage the plantings. Susie Howard’s ability to keep her plants from being eaten by slugs was a cause of wonder, as she uses only organic and natural repellants. Take note – we do not need to use harsh methods to have a wonderful display. A huge thank you to everyone involved – all the volunteers who sat at the gates, donated cake, made tea and washed up the million cups and plates. See you next year?

Cheese & Wine Party – 16 May 2012

C&WkitchensmallChoosing the first fine evening in the month,  hosted a wonderful cheese and wine party to help raise funds for Abingdon County Hall Museum. It was attended by almost 100 people, not just Museum Friends but personal friends and neighbours of the hosts and other interested parties. As the wine flowed freely and everyone tackled the huge range of cheeses on offer, so many that they needed two tables in two rooms to hold it all, the marvellous atmosphere encouraged everyone to donate most generously. This was greatly capitalised on by the extra help drafted in, in the form of the family offspring and their friends, especially for the raffle, which alone made several hundred pounds. The raffle prizes were enticing, with a brand-new vacuum cleaner, a glider flight, a photographic session, a handmade cot quilt and a beautiful oil painting of a heron  amongst the goodies. The event raised just under £1500, the single largest amount raised in one effort. Huge thanks are due to all her family – for opening their lovely house, for donating all the victuals, for attending so well to the parking arrangements, for moving much furniture and for ensuring that the weather was so good. And to everyone who donated so generously, some of whom couldn’t actually come in person. A triple gold star effort.

Fish & Chip Supper Quiz – 24 March 2012

F&SQuiz2012smallWith every ticket sold and St. Helen’s Church Centre buzzing with anticipation, the Quiz generated a great audience and much laughter. Some of the team members were thrown together on the night, not knowing one another, but this didn’t deter them from enjoying the evening. Although there was the odd grumble about some of the questions being hard, and the odd heckle from the audience about exact terminology, fielded with great aplomb and absolute ruthlessness from the Quizmaster, the teams did well. There were bottles of Bucks Fizz for everyone on the winning table, made up of one of the “scratch” teams, so proving it’s worth seeing who turns up on the night without having to worry about finding your own mates. The team who came last, and whose performance was nothing to write home about, won some notelets so they could do that anyway. Although the fish and chips arrived later than anticipated, they were well worth waiting for and tasted great. The event raised a wonderful £300 and many thanks go to all the Committee members who worked hard to make this a success and to everyone who donated their time, money and prizes. Here’s to next year’s Quiz!


postcardartsmallFrom the 22nd to 29th October, the Friends of Abingdon Museum held a sale of original art on postcard sized materials, all of which were donated by local artists, friends and relations of Friends and schools, to help with the Museum Appeal. As well as being local, some of the 200 contributions came from as far afield as Ireland and America and the wonderful variety of subjects, treatments and colours made for an eye-catching and interesting display. All pieces were priced at £10 and it was only when a piece had been bought that the buyer found out the name of the artist.

The event raised £715 and we owe much to Abingdon Artists, who allowed us to exhibit alongside their exhibition, and who helped us with the sale paperwork so cheerfully. Very many thanks indeed. And, of course, a huge “Thank You” to all those artists who contributed to this event with such a magnificent variety of delightful work.


unwrappingsmallThe gas engines and pump have been returned to the County Hall, looking fresh and ready for display. After 6 months of work by David, our specialist engineer, the lorry returned on 19 July, loaded with the newly restored machinery. With great care, the whole installation was slowly lowered down the stairs and back into their positions in the refurbished basement, wrapped in plastic while the last of the screed was applied to the walls. Just one week later, with the gearing back in place, the restored engine was turned on to power the pump and, after 50 years, wheels turned once again and the pump did it’s thing. It was a joy to see; this is the first of the new displays to come into the Museum, but just the first. There are many more exciting things to come and everyone involved is looking forward now to seeing the refurbished building finished, even though there are still many months to go and much to do meanwhile. Watch this space!

Open Gardens 4 & 5th June 2011

rainygardensmallThe first day of The Friends second Open Gardens event dawned clear and bright and the sun shone warmly all morning. Thanks to the generosity of many living in East Helen Street, there were 4 gardens open this year for people to enjoy. And enjoy them they did – over 100 people took advantage of the lovely weather and the beautiful gardens and sunned themselves on the lawns, enjoying the boats puttering up and down the Thames and the heady scents of the newly mown grass and the many flowers. St Ethelwolds offered both an artist in residence and the Abbey Lacemakers, who thoroughly enjoyed the attention and interest shown by visitors, many of whom also took advantage of the delicious cakes and drinks available. Sadly, Sunday’s weather was not great, being rather chilly and very wet. Those hardy visitors that disregarded the rain and ventured round the gardens open in the afternoon were rewarded with fresh fragrances, especially from the many roses and other perfumed flowers, as well as seeing the different plantings and colours in each of the 3 wonderful gardens around Abingdon. Tea was available too, but it really wasn’t sitting-out weather and the kitchen at Galleyfield became a big attraction, where much gossiping occurred over hot drinks. The Abingdon Museum Friends are very grateful to all who participated and would like to thank especially all those gardeners who worked so very hard to make their gardens look so beautiful and shared the fruits of their labour with so many members of the public. The event raised nearly £600 towards the County Hall and the Museum’s refurbishment.

“Be A Royal Bun Thrower” Raffle

rafflewinnerssmallIn honour of the Royal Wedding, a Bun-Throwing was organised by the Abingdon Town Council on 29 April. Now, normally, members of the public are not allowed to participate, but this year, as a contribution to the fund-raising effort, the Friends were allowed to hold a raffle for someone to win places for two on the roof to throw buns alongside the Councillors. The Mayor of Abingdon, drew the winning ticket which was bought by local resident Sarah Le–Fevre from Mostly Books in Stert Street. On receiving the news of her win Sarah said “it’s exciting to be a part of an event integral to the history of the town and will be an experience money can’t buy”. Sarah chose her husband to join her, the Mayor and Councillors throwing buns from the roof of Abingdon County Hall Museum on April 29th. After the event, she was too excited to give a coherent quote, but it was quite obvious that she had had a wonderful time. Hopefully she didn’t have too stiff an arm the following day – 4000 buns is a lot of throwing. The runners up,  each received one of the specially decorated commemorative buns. The raffle tickets raised over £1100 for the museum Appeal and a huge Thank You is sent to all those who helped sell the tickets, including Mostly Books, Goffs the Newsagents and the Throwing Buns Cafe.

Fish & Chip Supper Quiz, 9 April 2011

More than 50 people sat down in St Helen’s Church Centre in eager anticipation of winning the Abingdon Museum Friends’ first-ever Fish and Chip Supper Quiz. As the fish and chips arrived, many tables were already hard at work, trying to answer the hard and not-so-hard questions on the Marathon. After supper, having satisfied the inner man or woman, the brains were dragged into play as one round of fiendish posers followed another. Despite much heckling and laughing from the floor, the Quizmaster managed to ask all the questions so painstakingly put together and eventually a winner emerged from all the chaos – Lorraine’s table, whose members were duly presented with bottles of Buck’s Fizz in honour of their achievement. The outright losers were each given a box of tea to make a cuppa to console themselves. The Quiz raised just over £200 and a huge ‘Thank You’ is given to everyone who helped make the evening such a success,who laboured most of the evening in the kitchen, and to those who donated prizes and who helped sell the tickets, including Mostly Books in Stert Street. It proved so popular that we have been asked to do this again next year – so watch this space!

Gas Engine Removal

GasEnginesmallBefore dawn on a bitterly cold Sunday morning at the end of February, a few people gathered at the County Hall, to either remove or watch being removed, the gas engine installation from the basement. With the huge lorry arriving at 5.30am, some residents were less than pleased to be woken so early, but the move went smoothly and now both engines, the pump and the gearing are located with the specialist engineer contracted to clean, restore and return for display them. It was very exciting to be present when it all saw the light of day again for the first time in nearly 110 years.

Good Living Event Stand, 4 March 2011

GoodlivingstandsmallGathering all our resources – and they are now quite considerable – the Friends Committee made a successful appearance at the Good Living Event at the Miele Conference Centre that Friday evening, put on by the Abingdon Partnership. On show were the plans for the new displays in the refurbished Museum, as well as the archaeological drawing of the Ichthysosaur, for which a special cabinet is being planned. You can now sponsor a bone (or several) of the fossil, which is large and looks like a dolphin and several people have so far done so. All the items we now have for sale, both advertising the Museum and helping to fund the refurbishment, sold well and the stand was very busy telling visitors about the projected ideas. A good time was had by all.

The Abingdon Lion’s Club Santa’s Sleigh collection, December 2011

johnterrybrianmoylansmallOn a bitterly cold December evening, ventured out onto Santa’s Sleigh, organised by the Abingdon Lion’s Club, to collect donations on the estates around Abingdon. Despite the cold and the recession, the collective effort raised a large amount of money for various charities and here is Brian picking up the County Hall’s share of this effort, to be donated towards the MG room in the new, refurbished Museum. Hopefully the Friends will be able to go out on the Sleigh for more evenings this year and help make our share of the collection even greater. Many thanks to Brian and Judy for braving the weather and to the Lion’s Club members for the invitation.

Tuesday 9 November – Mostly Books Literary Quiz

QuizchequesmallThis year, Mostly Books, the bookshop in Stert Street Abingdon, held their annual Literary Quiz in aid of the Abingdon Museum Friends’ Appeal. A great evening was enjoyed by all, despite the head scratching and brain wracking that occurred on every table. The questions were wide-ranging, from having to identify books from their covers alone, to remembering which books the film music heard were the inspiration for the films, to identifying first lines from well-known works. It was all great fun, aided by members of the Friend’s Youth Group, who turned up looking very smart and ensured everyone was kept suitably refreshed throughout the proceedings. Sadly, although The Friends’ fielded a knowledgeable team of 8, the “Museum Fiends”, and, despite the wealth of talent at the table, they managed only last place. Mark and Nicki Thornton, who own Mostly Books, donated a valuable misprinted book to the raffle and altogether the Quiz raised £665, a great boost to the Friend’s Appeal.

Saturday 14 August – Friends of Abingdon Museum Appeal Market Place stall

marketstallssmallThe highlight of this event was having Abingdon’s Mayor, in the stocks, having wet sponges thrown at him on a chilly morning in aid of the Museum Appeal. This went down well, not just with children, but adults too, and the crowning moment came after his firefighting mates turned up with their shiny red fire engine. Having let the children swarm all over it, the firefighters turned the hose onto their volunteer colleague and doused him thoroughly with cold water, ensuring Duncan was completely soaked. Despite the uncertain weather, many volunteers from the Friends of Abingdon Museum turned up to put out books, competitions, a tombola and other goodies for sale to raise money and awareness for the Abingdon County Hall Museum Appeal. The number of currants in the cake was 811 and the Bear’s name was Oscar; the effort raised over £170. A huge thank you to all concerned, especially to Salter’s Steamers, who donated a pair of tickets for their trips and to the MG people who turned up early to lend and erect the tent which protected everyone and most things from the drizzles.

Saturday 10 July 2010 – Open Gardens Day

opengarden1smallTicket sales prior to the 10th for this event had been steady and on the day itself, hot and bright, more than 100 people came to see the 6 local gardens opened to the public through the generosity of their owners. Despite the lack of rain over the previous weeks, the gardens were full of colour and interest, providing delights for the eye, ideas for one’s own patch of earth and a place to rest and contemplate.

Each garden had its own character, offering something different to all the others; in Caldecott Road, one could see how easy it can be to grow your own vegetables; in St. Ethelwold’s House, peace and quiet reigned in its garden designed for contemplation, something taken advantage of by those who sought refreshments from the wonderful choice of cakes and drinks on offer during the morning  lacemakers who were there showing visitors how to make the intricate patterns. Next door, the garden featured a swimming pool, eyed longingly by their visitors.

In the afternoon, after perhaps a specially discounted lunch generously offered by some of the excellent local eateries or a picnic by the River, there were three more gardens to enjoy. While Tatham Road had a shaded garden and a cold drink ready, so welcome on a hot afternoon, with the house surrounded by colour and movement, the Shippon garden had been converted, over 25 years, from a barren field into an artist’s palette of vistas and textures, including a stream. Both these gardens were hard to leave, but, to see them all, one had to make the effort to tear oneself away. Most people had put Galleyfield at the end, to finish with a tea and a gossip by the pond where here, there were children fishing and finding mayfly cases, and people whiling away the last few minutes before the event came to an end, with friends who had also enjoyed the day.

The Abingdon Museum Friends wish to thank all those who opened their gardens, who manned the gates, who sold tickets, who made the cakes and who stood for hours making teas and washing up. And, of course, to all those who came to enjoy the event and made it a financial success.

Saturday 19 June 2010 – Public Launch at Abingdon County Hall

mcintyressmallWith Abingdon Town being full of people for the Making of the Mayor of Ock Street, and the accompanying Morris Dancing as an added attraction, the date was carefully chosen for the Appeal’s Public Launch to provide an extra something for all the family to enjoy on a special day.

The whole Museum was open, from the basement to the roof and there were visitors on all floors for most of the day. The basement provided an area for children to make necklaces and other items and there were many people interested in the gas engines – so much so that the guide eventually lost her voice! In the Sessions Gallery on the first floor, children dressed up in period clothing and drew pictures while their parents enjoyed a good cup of tea or coffee and a piece of homemade cake and browsed the current Museum exhibition of Abingdon through the Ages. Another flight of stairs brought the intrepid and determined to the roof and a wonderful view over the Town. The roof also provided a great vantage point for watching the Morris dancing in the Market Place. This is where the Town Crier also started crying about the Launch, from where he then proceeded around the Town to advertise the event.

The Museum staff worked very hard to make the day possible and they both encouraged the public to participate in the activities on offer and helped as necessary to look after all the day’s visitors. A huge thank you is given to them all.

Wednesday 9 June – Museum Friends’ Appeal Launch by Lord Lieutenant

An elegant and successful event. The Lord Lieutenant and other distinguished guests were delighted with the occasion and have offered further support during the Appeal.