The Friends of the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum
The Praetorians and Friends have been in existence since before the museum opened, helping to fund the build and fit out of the galleries. The Friends provide a focus for Oxfordshire people who take an interest and a pride in the county’s great military history. We arrange social events and lectures with distinguished visiting speakers and issue a regular newsletter.
We continue to provide essential support for the museum through our fundraising activities, which have produced over £25,000 since we began in 2014. Future fundraising plans include building up a fund which will enable the Museum to purchase items that relate specifically to the military heritage of the county. It will also provide for future exhibitions that allow objects from the reserve collections to be shown to the public, often for the first time.
Many of our existing members have served in or have a family connection with either the Oxfordshire Yeomanry or the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Their stories are told vividly and with a wealth of fascinating displays in the Museum.
New Friends have come from across the county and beyond; families who have enjoyed their visit, individuals whose own research into their family history has brought them to our rich archive and in contact with the dedicated volunteer researchers who work tirelessly answering enquiries.
We very much hope that by becoming a Praetorian or Friend of SOFO, you will not only enjoy the experience, but your support will also play a vital part in helping our Museum to tell the story of the county’s links with the military as well as Oxfordshire’s rich heritage and history. So do join us!
I look forward to meeting you.
Chairman of the Friends of the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust - SOFO
Become A Friend
Becoming a Friend of the Soldiers of Oxfordshire museum is easy.
The benefits of becoming a Friend
Free admission to the museum
10% discount in the museum shop
Invitations to our lectures and events
How much is membership?
Adults £5 per month/ £60 per year
Couples £8 per month/ £96 per year
Family (2 adults and up to 4 children) £9 per month/ £108 per year
How to Join
Please download, print and fill out the Friends Application Form and return it to:
Alternatively, you can collect and hand in your completed application form at the Museum Reception
We regularly hold events in support of the Museum. Some are exclusively for our Friends and Praetorians, others are public or fundraising affairs. Not all of our events take place here, we are lucky enough to be able to invite our supporters to visit some beautiful places in the county not normally accessible to the public. Below you can see some of our past events. Friends and Praetorians receive personal invitations to our exclusive events, details of all other events can be found on the ‘What’s On’ page of our website.
March 2019 - Spy Princess: The Story of Noor Inayat Khan with Shrabani Basu
Having previously given her talk on Victoria & Abdul at SOFO, best-selling author Shrabani Basu gave another talk supporting the museum, this time at Banbury Town Hall, focusing on SOE agent Noor Inyat Khan. Noor Khan also features in SOFO’s permanent Secret War display.
April 2018 - My Life as a Cold War Spy
A joint fundraiser for SOFO and the Army Benevolent Fund, Major General Peter Williams enthralled the audience with his experiences in East Germany as a member of British Military Liaison Mission to the Soviet Army (BRIXMIS).
At the time, very few people knew about the intelligence collection operations of the mission, but it is now possible to describe many of the highly successful activities those involved in the operations undertook.
The talk followed a drinks reception for supporters of both charities.
February 2018 - Lunchtime event with Michael Linton, creator of 1066: A Medieval Mosaic
SOFO was thrilled to be one of the few venues to host the Guinness World Record-winning Medieval Mosaic recreating the Bayeux Tapestry during 2017-2018, and its creator, Michael Linton, gave a special talk and tour at our exclusive Praetorians Lunch event.
November 2017 - Opening of Oxfordshire Remembers Part II
Our second exhibition commemorating the Great War opened in November 2017 and ran for 12 months to coincide with the closing events to mark the centenary. The exhibition was opened by the Duke of Marlborough and was attended by over 60 supporters and friends of the museum.
April 2017- Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim
The writer Shrabani Basu gave a fascinating talk on the relationship which caused waves of concern during the latter days of Queen Victoria’s reign. The film starring Judi Dench was later released in 2017.
March 2017 - War Horse and the Launch of the Cotswold Hare Trail.
With a visit from the National Theatre and the puppet ‘Joey’ from War Horse, our own Hare, designed by Mike Smith was unveiled.
SEPTEMBER 2016 - Unknown Stories of the Great War
Part of our ongoing commemoration of the Great War, SOFO opened its doors to Oxfordshire families with their own items relating to the conflict that had such a huge impact on the world. Living historians, the Western Front Association and other organisations helped support the museum during the open day.
MAY - SEPTEMBER 2016 Pilots of the Caribbean, Volunteers of African Heritage in the Royal Air Force.
SOFO was pleased to welcome this touring exhibition curated by the Royal Air Force Museum and Black Cultural Archives. Opened by Terry Jervis, TV producer, director and originator of the exhibition (which was based on his TV documentary) who explained the impetus behind his project.
MAY 2016 - Fundraiser to launch SOFO’s Film Nights
The film ‘Theirs is the Glory’ was the opening film with a talk led by Al Murray, AKA the Pub Landlord. Joined by veterans from the Battle of Arnhem, the night launched a new development for SOFO.
FEBRUARY 2016 - Abingdon and Witney College Art Exhibition
We were delighted with the fantastic exhibition ‘Victory’ by the art and design students at Abingdon and Witney College. The display they put on was outstanding and SOFO would go on to host further art exhibitions from the College.
FEBRUARY 2016 - Colonel John Bridgeman CBE- 600 Years of Oxfordshire Yeomanry
From the Black Prince to Winston Churchill, from Poitiers to Present Day. Colonel John Bridgeman gave a fascinating talk as he took us from Oxfordshire's knights, archers and men-at-arms to Winston Churchill's Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry with its unique archive housed here at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum. The event was very well attended and every one very much enjoyed it.
DECEMBER 2015 - Peter Dye: Above the Dreaming Spires- Oxfordshire’s Great War Aviation Story.
Peter Dye, ex Director General of the RAF Museum gave an excellent talk ‘Above The Dreaming Spires- Oxfordshire’s Great war aviation Story’. The talk linked in with the fantastic exhibition we had here, also curated by Peter, all about aviation in Oxfordshire during the First World War. The event was a huge success and our third event in a row to be a complete sell out.
The exhibition also included a short film directed by Peter Jackson director of Lord of the Rings.
NOVEMBER 2015 - Gilly Halcrow: Churchill’s Secret Army
Another event to sell out and we are not surprised. Gilly Halcrow gave an excellent talk about SOE agents, dubbed 'Churchill’s Secret Army'. She told exciting stories all about the roles these brave men and women undertook.
OCTOBER 2015 - Dan and Peter Snow: The Battle of Waterloo Experience
We were incredibly lucky to have Peter and Dan Snow come to the Orangery at Blenheim Palace to give a talk on their latest book, The battle of Waterloo Experience. The talk was excellent and we had over 220 guests to this special event which included a 3 course meal and managed to raise a staggering £11,500 for the museum. A fantastic evening was had by all who attended.
AUGUST 2015 - 66 Men of Grandpont Exhibition
A very moving temporary exhibition was here for August only, it tells the stories of 66 men from the Grandpont Parish in Oxford who went to War and didn’t return. The research was carried out by the Oxford Local History Society and outside each address where the men lived a poppy and their story was displayed as a trail which could be followed.
JUNE 2015 - Nigel Sale: The Lie at the Heart of Waterloo
On the 200th Anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, Nigel Sale, Author of the Lie at the Heart of Waterloo launched his book here at the museum. A free event which herd Nigel give an overview of the book and the chance to purchase a signed copy. There were lots of people here and it was very interesting to hear Nigel’s account of how the OBLI won the battle and the conspiracy behind the history.
MAY 2015 - Ashley Jackson: Churchill Command and Leadership
Ashley Jackson gave a talk on Churchill, a man who inspires controversy but also fascination about his leadership and guidance through the war. This talk was part of our Churchill programme commemorating 50 years since the death of Winston Churchill and 70 years since the end of World War 2.
Ashley Jackson is Professor of Imperial and Military History at King's College London, and a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford. Resident in Woodstock since the mid-1990s, Ashley has been involved with SOFO since 2009. He has written nine books on aspects of Britain's imperial and military history, including a biography of Winston Churchill.
MARCH 2015 - Al Murray: History and Comedy, My Debt to Oxford
Al Murray joined SOFO and Care 4 Casualties at the Oxford University Officers Training Corps (OUOTC) for a wonderful talk on his take on military history and his time spent at University in Oxford. He even managed a pint and a chat with the audience after the talk. A great time was had by all and over 100 people attended this unique event.
OCTOBER 2014 - John Fox the King’s Smuggler and lunch at Towersey Manor
A rare opportunity for our Praetorians to have lunch at the beautiful Towersey Manor, a private Oxfordshire residence belonging to the Chairman of the Friends, Mrs Marie-Jane Barnett. Author John Fox talked about his book ‘The King’s Smuggler’- Jane Whorwood (1612-1684) was the daughter of Scots courtiers at Whitehall and the wife of an Oxfordshire squire. She became involved in helping the Royalist cause after the court moved to Oxford in 1642, and smuggled goods and spied for the king. When King Charles I was held by the Parliamentarians from 1646 to 1649, she organised money, correspondence, several escape attempts and a ship. Allegedly she even had an affair with him! It was a fabulous afternoon.
SEPTEMBER 2014 - The Official Opening with Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal
HRH Princess Anne visited the museum in September to officially open the building. All our Friends and Praetorians were invited to join us for this very special occasion and many of them had the opportunity to meet the Princess herself. Princess Anne pictured receiving gifts from Toby Cotter aged 6. A memorable day was had by everyone who came.