The aims of The Friends of Abingdon Abbey Buildings Trust are:
- to care for the Abbey Buildings and site (all listed and part of which is a scheduled monument), primarily through their preservation, restoration, development and maintenance which is a continuation of the work of our predecessor charity, The Friends of Abingdon
- to provide public access for all to the Buildings and to promote their use as a centre for community activities
- to act as a gateway for both local people and visitors to the long and rich history of Abingdon.
History of the Trust
The Friends of Abingdon was formed towards the end of the Second World War in response to a growing realisation that much of historic worth in Abingdon was under threat due to neglect and the general clearances in the town. A major task of the Society was the acquisition, renovation and subsequent maintenance of the Abbey Buildings. The Society also acted as a community watchdog, vetting and responding to planning applications throughout the local area, and keeping a watching brief on projects of concern in Abingdon.
In 2016 it was clear that it was becoming impossible for the Society to generate enough income to meet the increasing costs of maintaining the Buildings and developing new activities and attractions. After reviewing all the options to address these urgent problems, it was decided to embark on a National Lottery Heritage Fund, Resilient Heritage Project aimed at ensuring a more sustainable future for the Abbey Buildings and creating a strong relationship with our local community.
The Society was advised that, in order to progress this ambitious project, it was necessary to review its status as an unincorporated body (unchanged since 1953) which left the Trustees personally liable and raised potential conflicts of interest and confusion of purpose. Therefore in 2018 the Trustees decided that the charity should be divided into two separate Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs): the Friends of Abingdon Abbey Buildings Trust to care for the Abbey Buildings, and the Friends of Abingdon Civic Society to take responsibility for broader civic matters. The two new CIOs were registered with the Charity Commission in May 2019.
- Bryan Brown, Chair, founding trustee – designer, businessman
- Gregory Bensberg, Vice Chair – has over 40 years’ experience as a regulator and broadcaster
- Hon Secretary – in recruitment
- Hon Treasurer – in recruitment
- Kevin Senior, founding trustee – retired accountant, partner in major firm
- Bobbie Nichols – founding trustee, co-opted from the Civic Society, editor
- Matt Stevens – historian and museum director
- Roger Thomas – archaeologist and historian
- Mark Child – property lawyer with a special interest in community land trusts
- Michelle Castelletti – interdisciplinary curator, musician, historian (medievalist), Director of Oxford Festival of the Arts
- Charlie Birks – former mayor of Abingdon and governor of Christs Hospital
- Godfrey Cole – former Tribunal Judge and Head of Law School at the University of Westminster