SOUTH LEIGH VILLAGE CHARITIES
I thought it might be of interest to villagers to know something of the charities that were started in this little village of ours in 1675 and still exist today, 343 years later. A condensed history of the charities follows.
The manor of South Leigh was sold in 1641 to William Gore of Morden, Surrey, on whose death, in 1662, it passed to his son, Sir Thomas Gore. It was he who left £10 in his will of 1675 to be invested for the poor. This bequest, along with other benefactors who left money for food and clothing for the poor, was amalgamated in the early 20th century to form a single charity.
In St. James the Great Church, a board high up on the wall near the vestry, lists these benefactors. It reads as follows:
“Sir Thomas Gore gave ten pounds the interest to be applied to their use forever.
John Hart gave fifty pounds the interest to be laid out annually in Coats for Christmas for ever.
Mr. Lawrence Betts gave five pounds the interest to be distributed at Easter for ever.
Mr. Thomas Guy gave ten pounds.
With forenamed sums and two pounds given by Mr. John Spier a purchase of land was made at Hailey in the Parish of Witney.
Mr. Richard Talbot gave ten pounds the interest annually to be distributed in bread the last Sunday in January forever.”
The purchase of land was actually made in 1692 and then exchanged in 1824, at the time of the enclosure, for 11.274 acres at Crawley and is still under the ownership of the South Leigh Charity today. For several years the annual rent of £8.00 was used to pay for fencing the land. However, by 1819 twelve coats were distributed at Christmas as well as money at Easter. By 1871 the rent had increased to £33 per year and was spent on clothing.
Today the rental of this land generates the income which is then distributed annually to the needy of the village.
The Richard Talbot monies were invested in 1765 in ¾ acre of land at Eynsham, this was eventually sold and the money reinvested.
In 1916 all these individual charities were amalgamated and finally in 1977 a scheme for the “relief in need” distribution of the income was put in place. The charity is governed by Charity Commission rules and administered within the village by a small group of Trustees.
Malcolm D. Osmundson
The annual income today amounts to £400 from the rent of the land at Crawley and about £100 from Wayleave. During early December the trustees meet to discuss how the money should be distributed which is no easy task now that the “poor” receive welfare benefits. “Poor” was widened to include anyone who was suffering, in all senses of that word. At present there are only four trustees and one of our number is hoping to be moving away from the village so we would welcome a volunteer replacement, plus, in an ideal world, another person to make the total five.
Anyone interested should contact me. It really isn’t very onerous or time consuming.
John Ashwell 01993 703534