A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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Nothing certain is known concerning the foundation of Coulson's Almshouses, which adjoin Chigwell School to the north-east. The words 'Coulson's Almshouses 1557' inscribed upon the building were evidently added at the rebuilding of 1858. In 1849 the grammar school records were said to include a document of 1619 implying that the almshouses built by Thomas Coulson then stood on the east of the school. (fn. 1) A family called Coulson had lived in the parish since 1592 at least. (fn. 2) One of the houses in 1849 also bore the date 1664, but this may have commemorated an extension to the buildings. (fn. 3) In the late 18th century the owners of land called Cardhams paid a rent charge of £4 for the maintenance of four poor widows and also repaired the almshouses and nominated the inmates. In 1803 the owner was not allowed to nominate them because he did not live in the parish and he refused to repair the houses unless his obligation could be proved. (fn. 4) This could apparently not be done and a subscription was raised for the purpose in 1820. (fn. 5) In 1831 the rentcharge was reassigned to Brookhouse Farm: (fn. 6) it was thereafter paid until its redemption in 1938 for £160 which was invested. (fn. 7)
In 1834 the almshouses consisted of three tworoomed tenements under one roof. The parishioners then nominated the inmates. (fn. 8) After various earlier attempts, the almshouses were rebuilt in 1858 by public subscription in their present enlarged form. In 1864 the vestry added to the endowment £100 received by them in consideration of the closure of a footpath. This was used to pay each almswoman 6s. 8d. a quarter. (fn. 9) A further gift of £20 was added in 1869. In 1951-2 the charity's income was £7 7s. Over £10 was spent on the almshouses and their occupants, the excess being met out of the other funds of the United Charities (see below). (fn. 10)
By his will of 1585 Robert Rampston of Chingford left rent charges to be applied for the benefit of the poor in various Essex parishes. (fn. 11) That for Chigwell is £2 a year, charged on Stone Hall in Little Canfield. In 1835 it was spent on bread which was distributed about Lady Day to poor persons in proportion to the size of their families. In 1951-2 it was used for the general purpose of the United Charities.
Mary Fountain, by will proved 1804, left £90 after expiry of a life interest, in trust for two blind women of the parish. (fn. 12) The will was unsuccessfully disputed in Chancery and the legacy was paid in 1817. In 1834 there were no qualified beneficiaries in Chigwell and the income was intermittently paid to two blind women in Whitechapel. In 1951-2 the income was £2 6s. 8d. and gifts of £1 each were made to two blind women, one in Chigwell and one in Buckhurst Hill.
James Hatch, lord of Chigwell Hall manor, by will proved 1807, left £1,000 in trust to maintain his tomb at Little Ilford, to make an inscription in Chigwell church recording the bequest, and for the most deserving poor of Chigwell not in receipt of parish relief. (fn. 13) The provision for the tomb was invalid, but payments were apparently made for it at various times. In 1834 £30 was distributed in small cash gifts. In 1951-2 the income was £25, of which £20 were distributed in gifts of £1 each.
Mary Grainger, by will proved 1808, left £1,000 in trust for eight poor widows of Chigwell of over 50 years of age. (fn. 14) Preference was to be given to the moral and industrious and distribution was to take place on St. Thomas's Day. In 1835 £31 10s. was distributed. In 1951-2 the income was £22 10s., of which £20 was distributed in eight gifts of £2 10s.
Mrs. Barbara Fisher in 1809 bequeathed £100 to the poor of Chigwell. (fn. 15) In 1834 the interest was used to buy bread which was distributed to the poor according to the size of their families. In 1951-2 the income of £3 6s. was used for the general purposes of the United Charities.
Mrs. Rosetta Waddell, by will proved 1866, left £25 for the benefit of the deserving poor of the parish who were not receiving parish relief. (fn. 16) In 1896 the income was used to supplement the endowment of the almshouses, in gifts to the almswomen. In 1951-2 it amounted to 13s. and was used for the general purposes of the United Charities.
By a scheme of 1899 all the above charities were united under one board of trustees who were to carry out the original purposes of each. (fn. 17) In 1951-2, in addition to the payments specifically mentioned above, a payment of £7 4s. was made to Chigwell County Primary School. Apparently the trustees believed that this sum had formerly been paid to St. Mary's Girls' School, but there appears to be no mention of such a payment in the scheme of 1899 or elsewhere in the Charity Commission Records.
Joan Sympson, by will proved 1562, left £80 for the repair of the highway between Chigwell and London. (fn. 18) This was added to a trust which she had founded three years earlier. In 1871 a small piece of land, apparently allotted earlier in respect of common rights, was sold for £44. (fn. 19) In 1938 a field comprising the whole landed property of the charity was sold for £3,150. By 1951 the charity held £1,080 stock. In the early 19th century the charity appears to have been virtually dead, probably because the road was then being repaired by a turnpike trust. (fn. 20) Trustees were appointed in 1857 and later in the century the charity's income was used to repair the footpath along the Abridge-Woodford road. In the 20th century the charity has paid the county council for the repair of the road. Much of the income has been reinvested: in 1947 none was spent.
The Harsnett Charity (1629), the main provision of which was for the foundation of the schools at Chigwell, included an endowment of £10 a year to be spent on bread to be given to those poor people of the parish who attended church, and 20s. a year to the parish clerk for ringing the church bell daily at 6 a.m. (fn. 21) In 1834 both these payments were still being made, though the clerk was no longer required to ring. A Chancery order of 1863 ignored the provision for the clerk, which thereafter lapsed, but continued the payment for bread. In 1871 this also was stopped by an Endowed Schools Scheme which ruled that the £10 was to be applied to educational purposes. An old bread cupboard used in connexion with this charity was for many years attached to the inside wall of the church near the south door. About 1900 it was found to be delapidated and was moved to the vestry. (fn. 22)
John Crowfoot, by will proved 1903, left £500 in trust for the distribution of coal at Christmas among the poor of the parish of All Saints, Chigwell Row. (fn. 23) For some years part of the income was used to give a bonus to the parish coal club, but in 1950 the whole income of £14 5s. 4d. was used to buy coal for 22 people.
Philip Savill, by will proved 1922, left £1,000 in trust for gifts to 100 deserving poor of the parish of Chigwell Row, preferably Anglicans. (fn. 24) In 1950 the income was £25, which was distributed in cash to 12 people.