Their Finest Hour Second World War Digital Collections Day at Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum
Join us at SOFO Museum to share your Second World War stories, photos and items on the 1st April 2023 - we’ll record your stories and photograph your objects to add to the Their Finest Hour online archive.
The museum will open to visitors free of charge throughout the day and will be hosting a range of other 1940s experiences, including living history displays, a replica Anderson Shelter, Second World War exhibitions, and much more.
What is the Their Finest Hour Collections Day?
The event is part of a nationwide campaign organised by Their Finest Hour, a team based at the University of Oxford and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which is collecting and preserving the everyday stories and objects of the Second World War.
As these stories are fast fading from living memory, it is vital that they - and the wartime objects that often accompany them - are preserved for future generations.
At the Digital Collection Day, stories about your family’s wartime experience – and associated objects such as diaries, letters, medals, journals and ration books – will be recorded, digitised, and then uploaded to the Their Finest Hour online archive, which will be free-to-use and launch in June 2024.
You can find out more about the project at www.theirfinesthour.org
If I bring an object, do I need to leave it with the museum or donate it?
Visitors can talk to museum staff on the day about donating items to the museum’s own collection if they wish, but the focus will be on digitisation - photographing objects, recording stories and scanning documents - so original items can remain with their families. In most cases, objects and stories brought to the event will be recorded on the day, but if more time is needed than is available during the event we'll discuss options with you.
What else is going on during the Second World War Collections Day?
Visitors on 1st April, whether contributing their stories and objects to the digital archive project or not, will be able to enjoy a range of themed displays and activities, including:
The Art of World War II: The John Noott Collection - see the Second World War unfold through the eyes of artists in this exhibition of John Noott's personal collection of original paintings all produced during the conflict.
The Aces High Gallery - specialists in autographed military and aviation fine art prints, Aces High will offer visitors the chance to take home some Second World War artwork from their show at Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum. Many of their pieces are signed by WW2 veterans.
Anderson Shelter - supported through Crowdfunder, the museum's new permanent replic Anderson Shelter will let visitors step back in time for look at life on the Home Front in Oxfordshire. Of course, SOFO's permanent exhibitions will give you a look at the Second World War actions of the soldiers of Oxfordshire too, in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and the Oxfordshire Yeomanry.
Living History Displays
On 1st April, SOFO will host displays from the following living history groups:
Doing Their Bit - Life on the Home Front
Ham & Jam - depicting various units of the British 6th Airborne Division, Ham & Jam will be set up next our replica D-Day Horsa Glider section - where else?
Oxfordshire Home Guard Living History Group - dedicated to the memory of those men who, during the Second World War, volunteered their services when the invasion of Great Britain was a very real threat.
SOE & Resistance Display - Bill and Flora King, well known local historians will be exhibiting alongside our permanent Secret War exhibition.
Visiting Museum & History Displays
During the Collections Day, we'll be hosting stalls that will let you find out more about other local and military museums, as well as go in-depth into various aspects of Second World War history. Visiting displays will include:
The Royal Army Chaplains' Museum: Faith in the Forces
The Glider Pilot Regiment Society
Brize Norton Heritage
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Do you have a Cafe?
The SOFO Museum does not have a permanent cafe, but on the 1st April we will be hosting the IWAW Pop Up Cafe. Run by the Iraqi Women, Art & War community group, delicious Iraqi cuisine will be available throughout the day. The pop-up also visits the museum on the first and third Saturday each month.
The nearby Oxfordshire Museum and Woodstock Library has a regular Cafe, open just the other side of the garden on the same site as SOFO Museum
How much is Admission?
Admission to the museum is free during the Collections Day event on 1st April 2023.
For more information about our normal admission prices, see our Visit Us page.
An independent museum, all the money raised - through admissions, donations, or spent in our gift shop - directly supports the museum in keeping the county's wartime stories alive. If you enjoy this event, please do consider making a donation.
How can I get there? Where can I park?
Woodstock is well served by local bus services, including the Stagecoach 7 and S3 (Oxford to Woodstock/Chipping Norton/Charlbury) and the 233 (Witney/Burford to Woodstock).
If you're driving, the largest free long-stay car park in Woodstock is about 10 minutes walk away on Hensington Road. (Use the postcode OX20 1JH for your Sat Nav). Some roadside parking is available just outside the museum on Park Street but these are limited from 1 to 3 hours.
With often limited parking in central Woodstock, Blenheim Palace will also be kindly supporting this event, offering free parking to those attending to share their stories. The museum is just a short walk into town through the palace’s Woodstock Town gate.