Theydon Bois: Charities

Page 258

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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An unknown donor before 1786 gave a rent-charge for the benefit of eight old poor people of the parish not receiving poor relief. In 1834 the land charged was Theydon Hall and the money was distributed at Christmas in shares of 2s. 6d. each to poor people, most of whom were in fact receiving parish relief.

The Poor's Land comprised two small pieces of pasture in Theydon Mead. The rent of 30s. a year was said in 1835 to have been paid until 1833 into the poor rate, and after that into a fund made up of voluntary contributions, which was used to buy bread and clothes for the poor. The land was sold in 1921 for £40 which was invested in stock.

The almshouses were established under a deed of 1753 by which Benjamin Smart, then lord of the manor, gave a small piece of land in trust for the building of cottages for poor old people receiving parish relief. Some cottages seem to have been built soon after. There was no mention of the almshouses in the 1835 Report. In 1905 they were four in number, in one block, each consisting of two rooms; they had been renovated two years earlier by the lord of the manor. Their use was limited by lack of endowment and though stipends were paid to the inmates from 1907 out of Elizabeth Wild's Charity (see below), by 1951 only two of the cottages were occupied and all were in very bad repair. In 1953 part of the site was sold for £580 and the almshouses were repaired and converted into two cottages. By a scheme of that date all the existing parish charities are managed together under the name of the United Charities and all their incomes, which had been unspent for several years, are applicable to the upkeep of the almshouses, after the payments for Elizabeth Wild's tomb and memorial tablet. The almshouses are on the north side of Coppice Row opposite Birch Hall. They consist of a single-story range, rough-cast with a tiled roof. The mullioned windows have four-centred heads to the lights. There are three gabled porches to the front, the large central porch containing two doorways.

Elizabeth Wild, by will proved 1844, left £1,000 to be invested for the maintenance of her vault and a tablet reciting the terms of her bequest, and subject thereto for the payment of £10 each Christmas to poor parishioners chosen by the trustees. The surplus was to be given to four poor widows resident in the parish for 20 years before, or if there were none, to the poor in general. By a Scheme of 1907 the income after the expenses of the vault and tablet was to be used in the payment of stipends to the almspeople. In 1950 the payment of stipends was stopped; part of the income of £24 14s. 4d. was spent on repairs to the almshouses.

Louisa Elizabeth Young, by will proved 1891, left £489 16s. stock of which half was to go to the National School and half to support a clothing club, and if this was discontinued, for the benefit of the poor of the parish in general. In fact the stock received by each beneficiary was only £169 8s. 9d. The clothing club was still in existence in 1905. In 1950 the income was £4 5s.

Frances Mary Buss, by deed of 1897, gave £100 in trust for the benefit of poor members of the Church of England or for purposes connected with it. There was a gift over to the Memorial Scholarship Fund on failure to keep her grave in repair. In 1950 the income was £2 16s. 10d.

John Hyett, by will proved 1719, left £5 a year for the apprenticing of poor boys, preferably resident in the manor of Gregories (see above, Manors). The sum was charged on the manor and was apparently paid in 1721. (fn. 2) In about 1814 it had not been received for some years (fn. 3) and there is no later record of it.

The Theydon Bois Nursing Association was left with a balance of £500 when it was wound up in 1949.


  • 1. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 216, pp. 246-7 (1835), xxi (1); Char. Com. files.
  • 2. E. Ogborne, Hist. Essex, 260.
  • 3. Ibid.