The Oxford Arthurian Society was founded in Trinity Term 1982, with Paul Antrobus of Exeter College as its first President. He was assisted by Tony Day, also of Exeter, as Treasurer, and Katharine Dell of St Hugh's as Secretary. From the beginning it seems that the Society was intended to pursue a wide range of activities. The first termcard, for the society's formal launch in Michaelmas, included an "introductory sherry party" as well as a mediaeval banquet in New College undercroft. The first two speakers were Geoffrey Ashe, the author of many books on Arthurian topics, and Jeff Saward, the "leading expert on British mazes and labyrinths". The scope of the speakers was broadened later in the year by the inclusion of academics Elizabeth Brewer and Elspeth Kennedy, the latter of whom later became senior member of the Society.
The summer saw the Society broaden its activities to include a day trip to Avebury, Glastonbury and Stonehenge, which must have been exhausting for all concerned, and a summer garden party. By this time it seems that most meetings - although still not held weekly - were accompanied by mulled wine which was to become one of the principal distinguishing marks of the Society. Trinity also saw the first Annual General Meeting which allowed the committee to be renewed for another year, with Paul remaining as President.
The second year of the Society saw a rethinking of the mediaeval banquet, with more steps to ensure its authenticity and (it was hoped) not incur another loss of £100. A great deal of effort was expended, including posters, which must also have been useful in maintaining high membership levels. The cost that New College eventually asked for was £250, which the committee doubted very much they could pay. New College would eventually write the debt off as the chef there had been indulging in creative accountancy for his own benefit. The money owed was eventually placed in a high interest deposit account, where it remained, occasionally being dipped into by successive committees. Whether or not to spend the entirety of it was for a long time a subject of debate, and for a while it was accepted practice to abstain at Society elections by voting for the deposit account.
Other activities in Paul's second year as President involved more frequent trips, or 'pilgrimages', concluding in a few days spent in Cornwall, near Tintagel, at the end of Trinity 1984. Speakers included the Cumbrian archaeologist Tom Clare on Arthurian Cumbria.
After two years as President Paul decided to enjoy a year of semi-retirement as he conducted his Part II Chemistry project, and chose not to stand at the AGM of Trinity 1984, though he continued as President until the end of term. A new committee was elected, coming from a different and slightly broader selection of colleges than those of the founders, perhaps an indication of the Society's success.
President: PAUL ANTROBUS (Exeter) Secretary: KATHARINE DELL (St Hugh's) Treasurer: TONY DAY (Exeter) Committee: GLENN SOIREZ (Exeter) (to MT 82) FELICITY JUNIPER (St Hugh's) (from HT 83) DAVID MARPLES (Exeter) (from HT 83) CATHERINE WOLFFE (Exeter) (from HT 83)
President: PAUL ANTROBUS (Exeter) Secretary: CATHERINE WOLFFE (Exeter) Treasurer: SIMON BILLINGE (Exeter) Committee: TONY DAY (Exeter) (resigned HT 84) LOUISE GOODFELLOW (St Hugh's) DAVID MARPLES (Exeter) RACHEL BILLINGE (Exeter) (from MT 83) LIZ WHITELAM (from MT 83) NICOLA MARPLES (Somerville) (from MT 83)