Wilstead Endowed Charities     

(Updated 26th August 2022)


The Wilshamstead Endowed Charities was formed in 1895 when numerous much older village charities were combined. These older charities provided annual funds for the Parish Church, the Poor of the Parish and for the Education of the children of the Parish. Each of these older charities gave differing proportions of their income to either the Church, the Poor or for Education.

The oldest of these charities was one set up by William Tompson in 1585.

Following the amalgamation of these charities into the Endowed Charities the income from rents was divided in the following proportions: Church Estate 40%, School Estate 45% and Poor Estate 15%. This division reflected the combination of the various provisions stated in each of the older charities.

The income from investments was divided equally between the three estates.


The 1895 Scheme of the Endowed Charities states that it should be administered by 9 Trustees.

Five Trustees are to be Representative Trustees selected by the Parish Council and would serve for 4 years. They don't have to be Parish Councillors.

Three Trustees are to be Cooptative Trustees selected by the Representative Trustees and would serve for 8 years. These Cooptative Trustees are to be people who reside or have business in or near the Parish of Wilshamstead.

One Ex-Officio Trustee was to be the Vicar of All Saints Parish Church, Wilstead.

It is noted that the Scheme states that 'Any competent Trustee can be re-elected' – (though there is no definition of competent provided!). A list of current and past Trustees can be found later in this document.

The Trustees must hold meetings at least twice a year and should distribute the Charities income between the three estates in line with the stated intentions of each of the various benefactors.

Income and Expenditure

Income. The income of the Charities is mainly from the rent of an eleven-acre field down Hooked Lane (Crowsley's Field) together with dividends from investments and shares. There is a more detailed account of the sources of previous and current income in 'The Detailed History of Wilstead Charities' part of this section of the website

Expenditure. The income of the Charities is divided up between the Church, the School and the Poor Estates.

The Church Estate. The Church has always been given its share of the Charities income in money. It is up to the vicar and churchwardens how it is spent though it should be spent on the fabric of the church and if not spent, invested.

This is still the case and the Parochial Church Council get a cheque each year.

The School Estate. The School Estate was for the advancement of education of poor children who are bone fide residents of Wilshamstead and who have 'certification of their good conduct and attendance'. Prizes were not to exceed 10 shillings for those who had attended more than 2 years and not to exceed £3 for those who had attended at least 5 years.

In the second half of the last century prizes were also given to those who did well at their next school and the leavers from Wilstead School were also given a bible.

For about the last twenty years instead of giving a bible the Charities have given a dictionary to each pupil who leaves Wilstead School to go to Secondary School.

The Charities also gives money to the school for the purchase of books or musical instruments etc.

The Poor Estate. The Poor Estate was for the benefit of the poor of the Parish and should be either subscriptions or donations to a Provident Club for the supply of coal, clothing or other accessories or temporary relief for unexpected loss or sudden destitution not exceeding £4 per year.

Records show that in 1909 over seven pounds was spent to provide coal for fifteen poor people in the Parish. These included widow Mary Anne Whittamore and widower George Huckle.

At the end of the last century the Charities would give small gifts of money at Xmas to six or seven elderly residents of the village. However, selection was a bit arbitrary so in January 2000 the Charities, with a great deal of help from the WI, held a New Year's Tea Party for the elderly residents of the village and 67 turned up. They were entertained with songs by the children from Wilstead School and from local singers John & Tracey Hinson. It was a great success.

It was such a success that the Charities felt it should, if possible, become an annual event.  

With the help of many people, including the children and teachers from the school, this has become a reality and one that is looked forward to by many residents of the village.

So if you fancy helping one year or you are a senior citizen and would like to come along keep an eye out for posters in the village, the Newsletter or the message board of this web site.

How You can Help the Charities

As you can see all the income is spent in the village. The Charities are limited in what we can give to the village by our limited income. We could do more with a larger financial base. Please could you consider a gift, covenant, or bequest to the Charities. You would not only be helping current villagers but generations of villagers to come.

If you would like to help the work of The Charities by making a gift of money or remembering the Charities in your will, we would be very happy to use this for the benefit of the villagers. Who knows in the future people looking back at those who have helped the village would see your name in its list of benefactors. What better way to be remembered, it is almost immortality!

Details of how to do this can be obtained from the Treasurer, Secretary or Chairman.

*The oldest Minute Book in the Charities possession starts in 1973 so we have no details of Trustees before that. However, the minute book up to 1973 is believed to be in the County Record Office in Bedford, so hopefully a more comprehensive list can appear here in the future.

A Detailed History of The Wilstead Charities

If you go into the Church, you will see a tablet on the wall in memory of William Tompson. It is a rare memorial because the inscription is in English and Latin. If you study it closely, and you will need to study closely as the writing is not very clear, you will see that it says that 'here under lieth buried William Tompson 1539 – 1596' and that he left is his will money to be given annually to the poor of the village. This money was generated from rent from 'a meadow called Crossmead and a tenement where George Linford lives'

This £10 annual income was to be distributed in the following manner:

£5 to be distributed 'at the festival of the nativity' 50 shillings to be distributed at the festival of the resurrection and 50 shillings to be paid out at the discretion of the minister and the churchwardens.

£10 per year was a considerable amount of money 400 years ago.

Crossmead was the other side of the A6 bypass and it is thought that the tenement was later called Dines Tenement, so perhaps it was near the Post Office. Perhaps someone out there knows where it was?

This then was the foundation of the village charity though some research has suggested another charity existed sometime before 1572 so maybe William Tompson added to something that was already there. Not much is known of the charity over the following centuries. We know various other gifts were made and charities set up for the villagers. Some like the Richard Edwards Charity, which existed before 1602, and the Rev William Wells Charity 1686 seem to have disappeared before the remaining charities were formalised following a series of Charities Acts in the period 1853 – 1894.

Others such as the Mary Beech Benefaction (£20) and the Henry Sims Charity did survive.

Another one that survived was the Dr James Johnson Educational and Ecclesiastical Foundation. In 1709 Dr James Johnson left £200 in his will for the children of Podington, Wilshamstead, Peasemarsh and Higham Ferriers and for ex-prisoners of a jail in Cambridgeshire and this was given to Sidney Sussex College Cambridge to administer.

So in 1894 the Rev Whitworth made application to the Charity Commissioners to formalise these various charities and lay down rules for their management. There may have been rules before, but we have no evidence of them.

Following the posting of notices on the doors of the Church and the School and adverts in the Bedfordshire Standard and the Bedfordshire Times the Commissioners approved the rules, or The Scheme, as it was called, of the Endowed Charities or to give it its proper name 'The Church Estate, The School Estate and the Poor Estate with subsidiary endowments in the Parish of Wilshamstead in the County of Bedford.'

In 1895 the assets of the Charities were:

a. Land down Hooked Lane near where it meets the bridleway from Cotton End Road. (Crowsleys Field)..

b. 4 cottages in Church Road. [Yearly income £7 10 shillings].

c. New Consols (investments) [Income £4 11shillings and 9d].

d. Rent Charge of Town Close (Cottage in Bedford Rd?) [Income £2]

e. Rent Charge of CrossMead. [Income £4]

f. Rent Charge from Dines Tenement. [Income £1]

g. £20 in Bedford Savings Bank [Income 10 shillings].

Note. Rentcharges are annual payments which are set and don't increase.

In 1905 Sidney Sussex College decided to divest themselves of the administration of the Johnson Foundation mentioned earlier and so gave £120 to a new Dr Johnson Charity of Wilshamstead to be looked after by the Trustees of the Endowed Charities.

The Consols were mainly sold off in the early part of the 20th century with the remnants disposed of in 1959.

In the 1950's the Rent Charges for Dines Tenement and Town Close were redeemed and in the 1960's three of the four cottages in Church Road were sold to form Church House by the entrance to the church & graveyard. The fourth cottage was thought to have been knocked down by then.

Thus in 1980 this left the Charities with investments, shares and the rent from Crowsleys Field.  We don't know for sure why it is called Crowsleys Field but we do know that in 1846 Thomas Crowsley was renting Church, School and Poor lands for £33 per year.

Also remaining was the £4 per year Rent Charge on Crossmead. (If only this £4 had been index linked from 1596!). This Rent Charge was bought out by the developers of Wixams in the 1990's for £400.

The William Tompson Memorial

The wording is not very distinct and some words have been identified by feel. There may well be some errors in the words below.

'Here under lieth buried William Tompson who was born in Wilshamstead the 25th day of February 1539 and was buried the 15th day of November 1596. The which William Tompson have given in foftment? by his last will and testament in pounds yearly forever to be paid out of meadow called Crossmead and tenement wherein George Linford now dwelleth the which five pounds to be distributed to the poor of this parish yearly at the feast of the Nativity of Christ. Fifty shillings at the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. Other fifty shillings to be distributed at the discretion of the minister and church wardens for the ???? ??? for ever. Whose godly example God grants? many to follow he hath distributed and given to the poor his righteousness remaineth forever Psalm 119. Blessed the man that considered the poor and   ???? the Lord shall  Hebrews 13.16'

Neither of these quotations seem to match those in the current bible. Presumably they are taken from the bible used before the King James bible which was produced around 1611

Details of Current Trustees

Representative Trustees. (Nominated by the Parish Council)

Eric Benton, Marc Frost, Barry Huckle (Treasurer), Nigel Jacobs (Chairman / Secretary), Vacancy

Cooptative Trustees. (Co-opted by the Representative Trustees)

V Scargill, Les Pearson, A Lowe

Ex – Officio Trustee

Viv Riddle (Standing in until a new vicar is appointed)

List of Trustees 1970's to the Present

Representative Trustees

1970-74*  D Croot, B Crouch, T Gambriel, L Mastin, V Wisson.

1974-78  B Cole, D Croot, L Mastin, V Wisson, B Yoxen.

1978-82  B Cole, F Crisp, D Croot, A Hinson, V Wisson.

1982-86  D Brooks, B Cole, F Crisp, B Crouch, N Seamark, R Stanton, V Wisson.

1986-90  J Bird, B Cole, N Seamark, R Wainwright, V Wisson.

1990-94  G Anderson, N Austin, J Bird, B Cole, V Wisson.

1994-98  J Bird, B Cole, B Huckle, N Jacobs, R Terry, V Wisson.

1998-02  B Cole, R Cox, B Huckle, N Jacobs, N Punchard, V Scargill, T Wisson.

2002-04  S Browning, B Huckle, N Jacobs, V Scargill, T Wisson

2004-08 S Browning, S Hamilton, B Huckle, N Jacobs,, V Scargill, T Wisson.

2008-12 E Benton,S Hamilton, B Huckle, N Jacobs, V Scargill, T Wisson.

2012-16 E Benton, B Huckle, N Jacobs, A Lowe, V Scargill*

2016-20 A Bartrum, E Benton, M Frost, B Huckle, N Jacobs, A Lowe.

2020-24 E Benton, M Frost, B Huckle, N Jacobs, A Lowe*

Became Cooptatative Trustee.

Cooptative Trustees

F Boston (1973)*-2007, E Crouch (1973)*-1977, P McKinnon (1973)*-1980, L Mastin 1978-1979, M Scarborough 1981-1986, J Elkins 1986- 1998, M Gurnhill 1986-2015, J Wooding 1998–2018, L Pearson 2008-present, V Scargill 2016-present, B Bland 2019-2021, A Lowe 2022- present

Ex - Officio Trustees

Rev Hill     (1973)*-1977,      Rev M Bannister 1979-1989,

Rev R Palmer 1990-2000,  Rev S Tose  2002-2020

++ J Brooks 2000-2001, V Riddle 2022-present (Parochial Church Council - Representatives whilst there is no Vicar)


E Ashston 1971 – 1983,

V Thompson 1984 – 1989,

J Willett 1992-1993

L Stone 1993 – 1994,  

N Jacobs  1995 – present

*The oldest Minute Book in the Charities possession starts in 1973 so we have no details of Trustees before that. However, the minute book up to 1973 is believed to be in the County Record Office in Bedford, so hopefully a more comprehensive list can appear here in the future.