The Ashmolean Natural History Society
The Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire (ANHSO) is the oldest Natural History Society in England. It was established as the Ashmolean Society in 1828 and was merged with the Oxfordshire Natural History Society by George Claridge Druce in 1901.
Photo - Judy Webb
Cothill Fen NNR with a view of the Ruskin Reserve. One of the first-ever nature reserves, the Ruskin Reserve was bought for the Society by Henry Willett, throught the mediation of George Claridge Druce. Druce was an officer of the Society for 52 years from 1880 to 1932.
Go to the Fritillary website. to see more information about Druce and the early years of the Society. Look in Fritillary Extra.
We also have very active subgroups:
the Oxfordshire Flora Group (formerly the Rare Plants Group)
the Education Group
the Society's journal Fritillary
the Flood-plain Meadows Research Group
the Verge Survey group.
The Society also works in partnership with many other natural history and environmental groups, for example collaborating in the organisation of events. It was instrumental in setting up the Conservation and Recording Days which are now mainly run by the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre and Wild Oxfordshire.
We are currently holding our meetins in the Old Schoolroom, St Peter's Church, Wolvercote. Lectures are now held at 7.30 pm on Tuesdays. Annual features include the E.F. Warburg Memorial Lecture (in conjunction with BBOWT) and the Bernard Tucker Memorial Lecture (in conjunction with Oxford Ornithological Society), both given by prestigious guest speakers. For a list of forthcoming talks (including their locations) please consult the programme.
A Fungus Foray at Cumnor Hurst with members of the Oxfordshire Fungus Survey
Photo by Geoff Moxon
A Field Trip to Aston Rowant led by Tim King|
Photo by Geoff Moxon
Visits to nature reserves and other places of natural history interest take place on Saturdays, Sundays and summer evenings. For a list of forthcoming field meetings, please consult the programme.
The Rare Plants Group was set up in 1994 to prevent extinction of wild plants in Oxfordshire. During 2013 it was reconstituted as the Oxfordshire Flora Group, doing work on rare plants, as before, but with a widened remit. For more details, see the website, Oxfordshire Flora Group.
The Education Group runs courses in plant identification and related topics.
First published in 1990, this journal continues the traditions of the Society with scientific articles of a high academic standard, reporting results from local botanical and zoological surveys and experimental projects. It is published as a joint venture with BBOWT.
You can read all about Fritillary, order copies, arrange to submit papers, and read the latest edition on-line by visiting the Fritillary web site.
Members of the Society's Verge Survey Group have been recording the flora of verges in Oxfordshire for over 20 years. Nearly 500 species have been found. The Society's work has contributed to the County Council's designation of verges of interest as nature reserves, and to the site records at the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre. For more details have a look at the Verge Survey page.
In Oxfordshire, the floodplains of mainly the Thames, Cherwell and Ray have a very large area of surviving ancient hay meadows of high biodiversity and great rarity. They are also sites of stunning beauty when in peak flower, have a long and interesting cultural history and are important for pollinators and birds. 97% of such flower rich meadows have been lost since the 1930s. The importance of the surviving meadows is reflected in designation as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (nationally important) with additionally a very large area near Oxford being designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This designation recognises that the rarest type of floodplain meadow community (Great Burnet-Meadow Foxtail or MG4 in the National Vegetation Classification system) is important also in a European context. The aim of the group is study and recording of meadow flora and fauna to inform management, combined with informal education about them and the encouragement of appreciation of the meadows through walks and talks. Such ancient meadows will be under increasing pressure in the future with predicted development growth in the county. The group is also a source of advice on re-creation or restoration of biodiverse floodplain meadow habitat locally.
We work in partnership with many other organisations, notably BBOWT in the publication of Fritillary and also in the organisation of the annual Warburg lecture. We were also instrumental in setting up the annual recorders' conference which is now run in partnership with the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre and others.
We hold joint events with the Oxford Ornithological Society, and the Oxford Urban Wildlife Group.
The Society's Library contains more than 500 books, housed in the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History. The Librarian brings a selection of these books to the indoor meetings, where they can be borrowed by members for several weeks. Books can also be ordered from the catalogue.
The society is governed according to its Rules
Note that we are in no way associated with the Ashmolean Museum, despite the name.
You can email the officers of the committee at the following:
The Programme Secretary
The Field Secretary
The Membership Secretary
The Publicity Secretary
and for anything else, Enquiries.
To join the Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire, please complete the Membership Application Form
Finally, if you want to find out all that is going on in the Oxfordshire area in the natural history world, you could visit the Wild Oxfordshire website. On that site you will find a directory of all nature conservation and wildlife groups and societies in Oxfordshire.
Last update 6th December 2017