By including Somerville in your will, you can make a special gift with a lasting impact. You can help the College to continue to address the world’s critical problems through cutting-edge research and preserve the essential characteristics of Somerville for future generations. 

You can also help to secure the future of the extraordinary educational opportunities Somerville offers, and make these accessible to talented students from all backgrounds, and all areas of the globe.

To learn more about leaving a gift to Somerville in your will, please contact Rebecca Coker by email at or phone her on 07890 412404. She will be happy to help.

Thank you for considering us in your future plans. Somerville College is a registered charity (no. 1139440).

Are there tax benefits?

Yes. In leaving a legacy, you may gain significant tax benefits for you and your family, as any gift to charity (including Somerville) in your will is tax free in the UK. The gift is deducted before your estate is valued for tax purposes, so it reduces the inheritance tax your beneficiaries pay. Currently, if you leave 10% or more of your estate to charity, your friends and family will also benefit from a 10% discount on inheritance tax (36% instead of 40%).

These benefits vary internationally, so please contact us to learn more about making a gift from outside the UK. In particular, the United States has many tax-efficient options, and although we always recommend you consult a financial advisor, we can answer general questions and point you to helpful resources.

How do I leave a gift in my will?

Leaving a gift to the College is easy. You simply include the details of your gift and any specific instructions in your will. Your gift may include a percentage of your estate, a sum of money, shares, a life insurance policy, buildings, land or other property. Depending on what you would like to achieve, there are a variety of options and we are happy to help provide more information on these.

A brief overview of the most common types of legacy gift with which you can support the College, as well as some suggested wording to discuss with your solicitor, can be found below. 

If you already have a will, but are contemplating a bequest to Somerville, the addition of a codicil should be discussed with your solicitor.

Legacy Sample Wording and Codicils

If you are writing a new will, you can add a testamentary clause to leave money to Somerville. We suggest the following form of words:

For a Pecuniary Bequest:

I bequeath to the Principal and Fellows of Somerville College in the University of Oxford (registered charity number 1139440) for their general purposes the sum of £ (……………. pounds) free of tax and I declare that the receipt of the Treasurer of the Said College for the time being shall be a sufficient discharge to my Executors for the said bequest.

For a A Residuary Bequest:

I bequeath the whole (or a percentage share) the residue of my estate absolutely to the Principal and Fellows of Somerville College in the University of Oxford (registered charity number 1139440) for their general purposes, and I direct that the receipt of the Treasurer of the Said College for the time being shall be a sufficient discharge to my Executors for the said bequest.

If you already have a will but now wish to include a gift to Somerville, the easiest way to do it is to add a codicil to your existing will. We have prepared a form to help you to instruct your solicitor to do this, which can be found here:

Codicil Form

If you are planning to leave a legacy, we would love to know about it so we can thank you. Please let us know using the form below or by contacting Rebecca Coker on or +44 (0) 7890 412404.

Legacy Gift Notification

Thank you for including Somerville in your will. We would be grateful if you could complete this form and let us know about your gift so that we can record your gift and thank you for your support.

My will includes:(Required)
We want to recognise and thank your exceptional generosity, but how and whether we do that is entirely up to you. Please let us know your preferences from the options below:(Required)

The Penrose Society

The Somerville Will Power Society was established in 2015 to thank those who have so kindly included Somerville in their wills. In recognition of the importance of our legacy society and the transformative nature of legacy giving, we renamed it in 2022 after a key figure in Somerville’s history, Dame Emily Penrose.

Members of the Penrose Society are invited to an annual event in College and sent a special lapel pin. We are delighted to recognise those members who are happy for their names to be listed in our annual Report for Donors, but please let us know if you would prefer to remain anonymous.

About Emily Penrose

Former Principal Dame Emily Penrose is remembered as a champion of women’s education, and of Somerville. She was instrumental in the campaign to secure degrees for women. She also laid the foundations of the modern Somerville by overseeing the creation of the Dining Hall, Maitland, and Penrose.

Notably, Dame Emily was a pioneer of the same far-sighted and selfless giving that we now celebrate through our legacy society. In 1926, her friends and colleagues collected money for her retirement. Instead of accepting their sizeable gift, she gave the money to Somerville to fund new student support loans. It is this same deep care for future generations of Somervillians that defines the support of all those who choose to give to the College today.

Annual Service of Commemoration

Each Trinity Term, we hold a Service of Commemoration to remember all those Somervillians who have died during the last year. This is our way of showing that they will always be part of our College heritage and will not be forgotten. Close family and friends are warmly invited to these events, so please let us know if you would like to share their contact details in confidence for our records.

The new Catherine Hughes Building
The new Catherine Hughes Building

The Meaning of Giving

Ruth Thompson (1971, Modern History)

In 2017, Somerville was the beneficiary of a generous legacy from Honorary Fellow Ruth Thompson, who remained deeply engaged and supportive of the College throughout her lifetime. She inspired many of us with her warmth, humour, and dedication, and it was with characteristic candour that she let it be known she was particularly interested in supporting and encouraging our students.

Ruth kindly agreed to speak at a Supporters’ Lunch about why she chose to support Somerville and moved many with her heartfelt words. As well as acknowledging the deep impact of her time at Somerville on her own life, Ruth also said quite simply that the one reason she gave to Somerville is because she “[trusted] Somerville to do the right thing with it.”

Harriet Maunsell (1962, PPE)

Somerville is also the recipient of a planned gift from Honorary Fellow, Harriet Maunsell OBE. Of her gift, Harriet said, “I was so lucky to be able to come to Somerville. I’d like everyone who has the opportunity to come to Somerville to be able to do so without worrying about the cost. To help with that, I’ve left a legacy to Somerville.”