The history of Wells United Charities
The Charities Commission approved a scheme for a group of trustees to administer the following charities collectively:
•The Reverend Mungo Moray’s Charity – this supplied 18 pounds (in the days when a pound was composed of 20 shillings) from land in Bale which was let to the Reverend of Wells next the Sea
•Christopher Ringer’s Charity – a farmhouse, buildings and 3 cottages provided a rent of 30 pounds paid by Thomas Mott, who resided on the Barningham Estate, near Matlask in North Norfolk.
•Ann Tidd’s Charity – the Earl of Leicester paid 5 pounds to rent land in the Parish of Wells which was owned by the charity
•William Branch Elliot’s Charity was composed of any annuity to the value of 388 pounds, 2 shillings and 9 pence, which paid out interest annually.
•The Fuel Allotment was (and still is) an area of land of approximately 10 acres located near Cuckoo Lodge in Wells. It was allotted under the Enclosure Act of 1813 and in 1876 The Earl of Leicester was paying a rent of 30 pounds per year for it.
The 1876 document clarifies that 1/3 of the yearly income from the combined charities, after any expenses, should be used for educational purposes, like paying school fees or scholarships to ‘deserving’ children or to provide some support upon their leaving school.
The remaining 2/3 were mainly intended to support needy local people, incapacitated by age, infirmity or illness with gifts of, for example, clothing, bedding, fuel, medical support and food. It was also possible to support an emergency fund, club or institution which supported those in need.
The Charities Commission approved an ‘update’ for the 1/3 of income spent on Education such that it could be used for prizes and rewards, encouraged attendance or provided support for students moving into further education. It could also go towards the maintenance of Evening Classes and Lectures, pay the fees for children wanting to attend evening classes or lectures and augment a scholarship awarded by Norfolk County Council.
Another Charity, The Emma Haycock Charity, which had been formed in 1886, was now administered and managed by the trustees of the other 5 charities. The Charities are now known as the ‘United Charities’.
The income from the Charity of Emma Haycock was in the form of interest from an investment of 492 pounds, 3 shillings and 1 pence. It was to supply ‘Clothes, Linen, Bedding, Fuel, Tools, Medical or other aid in Sickness, Food or articles in kind’ for the ‘benefit of duly qualified persons’.
Wells United Charities retains the Fuel Allotment and the Earl of Leicester continues to pay rent for use of this land. The remaining assets/investments were combined long ago to buy Charibonds. These proved to be a poor investment and sadly now only provide an annual income of approximately £100.
However, useful sums are raised by the trustees with fundraising events, supported by the generous folk of Wells. These strengthen the charity ‘coffers’ to provide useful sums in grants for education, fuel and other worthwhile causes which are given in the spirit with which the original legacies were intended.