Leigh Poor and the Leigh Poor House

 

LEIGH POOR AND THE LEIGH POOR HOUSE (by Joyce Field: December 2015)

Other related articles on this website:
George Sales: Agreement for letting of Poor House lands 1857/58
Some Leigh Residents in the Sevenoaks Workhouse
Sold for a Shilling and a Bottle of Gin
The case of John Collens (1845)
Poor House Deaths 1829-1840
Leigh Workhouse 1851
Leigh Parochial Charities: article by Frank Hawkins
Leigh Vestry Minutes 1823-1844

From the time of Elizabeth I until 1834 the very poorest in society were cared for by their local parish.  This system had evolved over the centuries: in medieval times it had been the duty of the church to care for the poor as laid down in the scriptures, but in 1601 Parliament took action with the ‘Act for the Relief of the Poor’ which would form the basis for what is referred to as the Old Poor Law when each parish was to elect one or two substantial householders each year to be overseers of the poor, imposing on them the duty to maintain the poor and set them to work, with funds being provided by the levy of a poor rate on the inhabitants of the parish.

Further Acts would follow, but gradually during the 18th century and even more so during the early years of the 19th century many parishes established their own workhouses/poor houses to house paupers, with the intention of reducing the cost of the poor rate.  During this period, therefore, Leigh had its own system of caring for its poor and also prior to 1834 had its own Poor House.  This system which had operated under the Old Poor Law had worked reasonably well in the stable, largely agrarian, society of 17th and 18th century England, but with the industrial revolution and a rising population, people began to move to the new industrial towns of the north and in rural areas, such as Leigh, new methods of farming would affect the agricultural poor, putting many out of work.  In 1795 a solution had been adopted in many places whereby the poor rate was used to make up labourers’ wages – this was known as the ‘Speenhamland System’.  An alternative system was to assign unemployed labourers to local farmers, whether they needed extra labour or not and part of their wages would be met by the parish.  However, this exacerbated the problem and the numbers on poor relief actually rose and more and more sought relief: in 1783 the amount paid in poor relief was £2m, by 1820 this had reached £7m.  Assistance was not going where it was needed and the numbers of paupers increased who, it was argued, would not work but preferred a life of indolence on the poor rate.  A royal commission was set up in 1832 to overhaul the system.  This resulted in the Poor Law Act of 1834 which established a system of Poor Law unions made up of groups of parishes to run workhouses, where all paupers were to be housed – a picture we are familiar with through writers such as Charles Dickens.  This resulted in the demise of local Poor Houses and the parish system of managing the poor. These changes affected the way Leigh looked after its poor.  As parishes were grouped into Unions, so Leigh became part of the Sevenoaks Union and its workhouse was established at Sundridge.

Before the 1834 Poor Law Act, Leigh had had its own Poor House (or Workhouse, the terms being interchangeable) and a system for looking after its less fortunate.  Between 1696 and 1706, one third of the parishioners whose names were entered in the Church registers by the Rev. Joseph Carte were described as paupers – for someone not of working age, or disabled or sick, there was no welfare state or pension.  Therefore, the responsibility of looking after the poor fell on the Church and its parish officers.  The 1601 Act mentioned above had made it compulsory for every parish to provide for the poor by levying a rate on all occupiers of property within its bounds – the poor rate.  The Churchwardens Accounts of a parish would record the level of the poor rate, what was raised and how it was spent.  A duty of the Churchwardens was also to set the able-bodied poor to work.   In addition to the poor rate, Leigh also had the benefit of money left for the poor by better off parishioners in their Wills, some in the form of charitable trusts*.

In fact, Leigh Parish had held property for the benefit of the poor for over five centuries. There are several mentions in the records of a property called ‘le Vagge’:  on 20 February 1467/8 a tenement and close called ‘le Vagge’ of four acres was held on behalf of the Parish by Thomas Bartelot, Thomas Durkynghole and others and during the 16th and 17th centuries this property was regularly leased and the rentals used for the relief of the poor in the Parish.  Again in 1603 the property called ‘le Vagge’ is mentioned when an unknown donor gave to the parish four acres of land then known as the Fagge or Vagg.

This particular area of land is where the Leigh Poor House would be built and became known as the Poor House meadows, the acreage of which varies in documents between four and six acres.  It is where the Leigh Allotments and Saxby Wood now stand.  (Incidentally the name of Saxby Wood comes from William Saxby and William Wood who in 1675 granted ‘a messuage at or near Leigh Green’ to enable the parish to receive the rents and profits so that it could provide bread to ‘three poor inhabitants of the said parish’).

The Poor House itself is shown on the tithe map of 1838 on what is today Saxby Wood and although we do not know when Leigh first erected the Poor House on this land, we know that in 1815 the Poor House – a small building on about 6 acres of land – was ‘rebuilt’.  Therefore, it had existed even earlier.  In addition, on this land there were also three other tenements for the poor managed by the Vestry.  Prior to the erection of the Poor House, as already said, the property and land on the site were regularly leased and the rentals used for the relief of the poor of the parish.  There were also other cottages maintained by the Vestry for the poor of Leigh: at Lower Green and in the High Street: these included three cottages located in what is today part of the garden at South View at the entrance to the village.  After 1834, the property which remained on the former Poor House Lands – the Poor House converted into individual dwellings for the poor (pulled down in 1856 and replaced by further cottages) and three other tenements would be let annually by tender until they were purchased by Samuel Morley in 1879.

With its Church hierarchy of Vicar and Vestry, Overseers of the Poor were appointed and managed the Poor House and its lands through an appointed superintendent.  Leigh’s Overseers of the Poor were unpaid and were generally the relatively well-to-do farmers or shopkeepers of the parish.  The Leigh Vestry (as seen in the Leigh Vestry Minutes), in its role of providing poor relief, would set the poor rate, maintain village cottages for the poor and the Leigh Poor House and meadows.  It would manage any bequests of money it had received to help the parish poor from former well-to-do citizens – such as William Saxby and William Wood; it placed poor children – as ‘apprentices’; dealt with issues of bastardy to ensure the fathers paid their dues to maintain their base born offspring; with law and order and the village constable; with roads and highways and the village Turnpike; and with providing money towards maintenance of the Church.  The Vestry also gave out food – usually bread – to its poorer inhabitants who were not in the workhouse.  Also, as seen in the Minutes 1823-1844, the Vestry had a role in providing money to help the poor emigrate, although only one villager – in 1838 Henry Crowhurst and his family – is named between 1823-1844 as being giving such assistance.

Being responsible to its rate payers, the parish had to ensure it spent their money wisely – therefore, the parish was also responsible for ensuring that those who claimed on the parish had right of settlement in the parish.  The laws of settlement varied over the centuries but the Act of Settlement of 1662 provided that any parish in which a man tried to settle could send him back to the parish in which he was born, for fear that if he stayed in his new abode he might at some future date become a pauper and a liability to the parish in which he had settled.  This applied even if he had obtained remunerative work.  This Act was modified later in 1795 which prevented the operation of the earlier act unless and until the man had become chargeable on the rates.  There are incidents in the Leigh records of the enactment of these laws, where right of settlement had to be proved and removal orders issued.  Correspondence between parishes over disputed rights of settlement would arise.

A few examples that have been found include a case at the turn of the 19th century, where there is a disputed settlement of Ann Peach and her children.  And in 1845 there is a dispute between Leigh and Wrotham about the settlement of a John Collens.  In the Kent Quarter Sessions – date 14 December 1671 – there is a case of James Farrant of Leigh, “who had lately come and settled in Penshurst without sufficient means, should be transported to Leigh and settled there.   (ref. Q/SB/11/87 at Kent Archives: Sessions Papers 1661-1714).

Frank Hawkins, a former Leigh resident, did much research into Leigh’s history, and we have some of his notes from the 1730-1750 period on the Leigh Poor House.  It appears that goods for the workhouse were a regular expenditure and although there are no details, the Clerk to the workhouse overseers refers to “goods for the workhouse as by bill attached”.  The accounts for 1743 are more informative.  The main items were food stuffs – meat and bread, wheat and cheese but there were also clothes for the paupers, fuel and odd items of furniture or household goods, such as in January 1734 when there is mention of a “pot” for the workhouse.  Another role played by the Poor House was to provide school and medical help.  In the 1730s there are fairly regular payments for the schooling of workhouse children.  In 1731 Goody Knight was paid £2-7-6d for a year’s service in monthly payments varying from three shillings and sixpence to seven shillings and tuppence.  In 1732 her place was taken by Mary Hunt who continued to teach for six years, though her monthly income never exceeded three shillings.  After 1738, there is no further mention of schooling.   Mary Hunt was, however, now supplying the workhouse with milk.  But after a while she seems to have dropped that occupation as well.  In 1741 she was paid thirteen shillings and sixpence for “the caring of Goody Sigges (?) knee”.  She continued in her role of nurse while George Hunt, presumably her husband, supplied the coffins for the dead [paupers].

And of course there was the important role of providing work for the poor, and for the poor in the workhouse..  In March 1731, six pounds of flax (?) was delivered to the workhouse.  In the following year a “woolam (?) wheel” was delivered to the workhouse.  So presumably the poor – the poor women at least – were given some sort of weaving to do.

In 1772 Knatchbull’s Act was passed which gave parishes the power to buy or hire a workhouse and to refuse relief to paupers who would not enter them.  Although Lawrence Biddle in his book Leigh in Kent 1550-1900 states that “it was probably after the passing of this act that the parish built a workhouse on the Poor House Lands”, it is apparent from Frank Hawkins research above that Leigh had had a Poor House prior to that Act and a system for looking after its less fortunate.

In 1817 there was an agreement for letting the Poor House to Thomas Martin under certain conditions.  “We, the churchwardens, overseers and other inhabitants of the parish of Leigh . . . do agree with Thomas Martin of the said parish on the following conditions:

 “First: that we allow Thomas Martin four shillings and sixpence per head for all the paupers that they think proper to put into the workhouse and he to feed, wash, mend and provide everything that is necessary for them in health and sickness (new clothes and furniture excepted) to be approved by any three of a committee that shall be appointed in the parish to inspect the house once a month or oftener if they think proper and to pay him for the same the first Sunday in every month.

“Secondly: Thomas Martin to have the use of the workhouse, land and premises for the poor only free of rent and rates and the benefit of their labour.

Thirdly.  That the cows, hay etc. on the premises belonging to the parish are to be valued to Thos. Martin and to be revalued at the end of this agreement and the difference if any to be paid by either party.

Fourthly: that no hay soil or any manure made on the premises shall be carried off but spent on the premises during this agreement.

Fifthly:  Any pauper out of the house to carry his clothes to Thos. Martin to have them washed and mended that the parish think proper and to pay him at the rate of one guinea per year per head.  Sixth: To allow Thos. Martin twenty pounds per year to act as deputy overseer in any way that the parish shall  think proper and to pay him all reasonable expenses out of the parish.

Among those chosen for the committee to inspect the Workhouse were William Saint, James Bellingham, both Church Wardens; Nickolas Streatfeild, James Belling – both overseers; and Daniel Grace, William Milen, Nickolas Streatfield, James Bellingham, John Masters, James Thrift, Stephen Wiltshire and William Standen”

The Leigh Poor House would continue until 1834 Act and someone had to be employed by the Parish to manage or superintend it.  From the Vestry Minutes of 1823-1844 we have some names.

James Pilbeam is given the role of managing the Poor House between 1823 and 1827.  In 1824 it was agreed that Mr Pilbeam “contracts to keep the Poor such as shall be sent into the Workhouse henceforward upon an average of three shillings & sixpence per head per week to clothe feed lodge & wash for them. He having the workhouse & Field attached the Labour of the paupers & medical advise the Parish to pay before of all other expences”.  In 1825 the Vestry agreed that Mr Pilbeam should be allowed all reasonable charges for laying forth all dead Persons which die in the Poor House.

In 1827 the Vestry decided to appoint a new manager of the Poor House, William Young – his salary – which included his role as an assistant overseer and road surveyor as well – would be £45 and that all journeys taken would be free of expense within the distance of 7 miles; he was also to attend to a manufactory if established and that this role was agreed on a three months notice either side.  Although William Young agreed, an Edward Young agreed to do it until William could take on the role.

However, there appeared to be some difficulty in getting Mr Pilbeam to leave according to his notice. At a Vestry meeting on 10 May 1827, it was carried by a Majority that Mr Pilbeam “do quit and leave the Poor House at the expiration of his Notice which Notice having been duly served by the Overseers and considered sufficient by the said Vestry”.  Eventually in 1828 William Young took over the role as Assistant Overseer, road surveyor and superintendent of the Poor House.

In 1834, when the new Poor Law Act came into being, it meant that all the local Poor Houses, of which Leigh was just one, would now be disbanded.  The act also abolished outdoor relief.  The idea was that paupers would be lodged in substantial buildings erected by a Union of parishes and controlled by a Board of Guardians who would be appointed from the parishes, including Leigh.  Leigh could appoint two Guardians – the first two mentioned in the Vestry Minutes are Stephen Johnson and Jeremiah Bellingham appointed in 1836.  All the parishes would contribute to the funding of this new Workhouse.

Following the 1834 Poor Law Act, the Leigh Vestry began to discuss the erection of a Union Poor House at Bough Beech, while also discussing the future of the Leigh Poor House.  The Union in question was the Penshurst Union of parishes – namely Penshurst, Cowden, Hever, Edenbridge, Chiddingstone and Leigh. The proposed Bough Beech Workhouse clearly went ahead but did not exist for long, as it was disposed of in 1837.  This all raises some confusion because by September 1835, according to Eric Keys article “Children of Sevenoaks Workhouse”, the Penshurst Union parishes were incorporated into the Sevenoaks Union of ten parishes which was at that time using its Workhouse at St John’s Hill.  However, the two Unions must have operated contiguously for a few more years.  The uniting of the two would be discussed by Leigh Vestry again in 1836.

Meanwhile, the Leigh Poor House remained, was adapted and turned into individual lodgings.  And William Young continued his role as superintendent until 1835, when William Wicking** would be appointed in the role.

According to the Vestry Minutes of May 1835 the position had initially been offered to Widow Hope, with instructions for one of the inmates, William Jinks, to help.  However, she declined and William Wicking applied and was appointed the Superintendent.  A Contract was made between the Parish Officers and William Wicking to provide for the poor in Leigh and for the general management of the Poor House subject to the approval of the Board of Guardians.

The contract stated that he, the said Wm Wicking,

“doth hereby contract to provide for the proper maintenance of the poor (clothing excepted) that are now, or may be hereafter admitted into the poor house, and to find all necessary articles, such as Firing, Soap, Candle &c that may be requisite in the general management of the said House for the remuneration or sum of 2s/3d per head per week together with the possession and occupation of the same and the Garden thereunto attached as also all moneys accruing from the Labour of any of the inmates thereof.  And that he the said Contractor doth also hereby agree not to be allowed to carry or cause to be carried any Hay, Manure, &c from off the Lands or Premises thereunto belonging but to have the privilege of Keeping a Cow or Cows on the said Lands upon the payment of 2/- per wk for each Cow the Cow or Cows to be taken as also the Stock of Pork, Fuel &c at a Valuation to be made thereon both at the time of taking and the giving up the possession of the said House &c.-   And an Inventory of all Furnitures Fixtures, &c in and belonging to the said poor-house to be taken on entering and leaving the same. Payment on the said Contract every fortnight as also a fortnights Notice to be given & received, for taking or giving possession of the same”.

The Poor House and the 3 attached tenements on the land and the meadows were let to William Wicking and he also had use of the lodge and yard.  Two of the three tenements were let to William Shoebridge, William Osborne and one was unlet.  The Workhouse itself was now divided into lodgings, plus garden, and let to William Brooker, James Brattle, and N Seal.

Meanwhile, William Wicking agreed to rent Leigh Poor House Meadows for one year from Michaemas 1835 at a rent of £21.18s a year.  He had to agree that the land be kept swarded and not part of it broken up and that he could have use of the Lodge and Yard, leaving room for fagot stacks for use of the Poor House.

However, despite the appointment of another Superintendent for the Poor House at Leigh, from 1835 the question of the disposal of the Leigh Poor House was discussed in the Vestry Minutes as were the changes in the Poor Law.  The Vestry was still responsible for Leigh’s poor:  Leigh now elected its Guardians for the Poor – as mentioned above – not Overseers of the Poor.

In 1836, the Poor House Meadows were discussed again by the Vestry and it was agreed that they should be disposed of and “the proceeds of the sale of such land and tenements after deducting the expenses thereof be applied to the proportionate expense of this parish in erecting a Union Poor House at Bough Beech and the overplus (if any) to the general interest of the parish”.  In addition, there would be the disposal of two cottages in Lower Green which were occupied by a Mr Wood and a Mr Saunders, that they should be attached to the poor house for disposal and another five cottages/tenements which adjoined the churchyard.  A further three parish tenements near the churchyard (probably the three charity cottages that were on the land now occupied by South View) were not included in the disposal: these were occupied by Messrs Nash, Pound and Pankhurst: it was agreed they should receive the three 2 penny loaves mentioned in the Deed of Indenture.

In August 1836 the question of ‘the Poor Law Commissioners’ recommendation to unite the Sevenoaks and Penshurst Unions’ was on the agenda again and in September 1836 the Overseers were instructed by the Vestry ‘to cause the Furniture and other effects &c in the Workhouse and Tenements adjoining to be sold by Auction immediately on their having possession of the same and also at the same time to fix an early day as possible to give public notice thereof for the Letting of the Land, the Workhouse and Tenements adjoining thereto’.

On 13 October 1836 another meeting was called for the purpose of letting and disposing of the parish property on the Land commonly called The Poor House Meadows, the House lately occupied and called the Workhouse and the three tenements adjoining thereto.    Among its resolutions was that the House lately occupied as the Workhouse should be let separate from the land adjoining it.  That Mr W Wicking be offered the land at the same rent and terms as last year, which Mr Wicking accepted.  That William Shoebridge have the offer of the tenement lately occupied by Mr Welfare at the sum of 20 per week; that Wm Osborne have the offer of the one he lately occupied at 18 pr wk; the tenement lately occupied by W. Hanmore be reserved for the present also set at 18 pr week.  It was also agreed that a Committee be set up to view the Workhouse for the purpose of dividing the same into 3 or 4 Lettings as they shall see fit and that W. Brooker, J. Brattle and N. Seal (who currently occupied them) are offered of the said divisions at such rents as the Committee decides together with such proportions of Garden – ground as shall be allotted to the same.

The above Committee then met at the Workhouse to decide how to divide up the property into individual lodgings:

  •  The Parlour with the dairy and pantry on the left together with the 2 chambers over the same and use of Washhouse and a portion of Garden ground at would be let at 2/- per wk to Wm Brooker;
  •  The Kitchen and use of Washhouse together with 2 back chambers and a portion of garden would be let at 1/8 per week to James Brattle.
  •  The two chambers over the Kitchen with use of Washhouse and portion of garden ground would be let at 1/6 per week to N Seal.

In 1837, matters had changed again in respect of the Union Workhouse built at Bough Beech.  In June the meeting agreed that the Guardians of the Poor of the Penshurst Union could sell the premises and house at Bough Beech which had been used by the late Penshurst Union as a Workhouse for the said Union.  The intention had been that any proceeds would be put towards the liquidating of the expenses attending the erection and purchase thereof.  Obviously with the combined Sevenoaks and Penshurst Union of 16 parishes, the Bough Beech premises were now not needed and the Sevenoaks Workhouse at St John’s Hill would serve the combined Union.

In 1838, the Vestry discussed what would be an acceptable amount offered for the Bough Beech premises and a figure of not less than £1500 for the disposal of Bough Beech was agreed by the Penshurst Union and that the 10 parishes of the Sevenoaks Union should contribute towards the outlay and expenses which had attended its erection.  On 13 September 1838 the Churchwardens and Overseers of Penshurst, Chiddingstone, Hever, Cowden and Edenbridge and Leigh applied to the Poor Law Commissioner for a meeting as follows.

‘Gent’m
Circular to the five parishes
I am directed to inform you that a meeting of the parish officers and others comprising the six parishes of the late Penshurst Union is appointed to be holden on Thursday 20th inst at 4 o’clock in the afternoon at the Castle Inn Chiddingstone to take into consideration the subject as mentioned in my letter of the 7th inst relative to the liquidation of the expenses incurred on the erection of the house at Bough Beech.  Also the amt of establishment charges will be brought under the notice of the meeting for the purpose of comparing them with those before the union were united.’

 

This is the final mention of the Bough Beech workhouse in the 1829-44 minutes and meanwhile, the Leigh Vestry would continue to let the Parish Poor House lodgings, meadows and the three tenements on the land.

In due course, the Bough Beech Workhouse would be disposed of and the new Workhouse for Leigh and the Penshurst Union parishes would come under the umbrella of the Sevenoaks Union.  In 1841 there was a critical report on the St John’s Hill Workhouse by two official inspectors appointed by the Poor Law Commissioners in London and the Guardians eventually decided that a new workhouse was needed to look after the whole Sevenoaks Union area (including the six Penshurst Union parishes).  Plans were drawn up and the new ‘Hospital’ was opened on 8 October 1845.  This was the Sevenoaks Union Workhouse at Sundridge.  Dr Gregory, who since coming to Leigh in 1829, had been contracted to attend the sick and poor and for midwifery, for which he was paid by the Parish of Leigh – in 1832 he was paid forty guineas a year for this role.   However, with the establishment of the Sevenoaks Workhouse he would become the Poor Law doctor for the whole Union: we do not know how much initially, but in 1866, at a Guardians’ meeting Dr Gregory’s quarterly salary of £20 was approved.

Despite the loss of its own Poor House, Leigh’s role in providing for its poor would continue.  Its most destitute might now end up at Sundridge, but the village still had cottages, the converted Poor House and its charitable bequests to help alleviate some hardship.  In fact when looking at the Census for Sundridge only a few names come up as being born in Leigh (see Leigh residents in Sundridge Workhouse).  Of course there may be others from Leigh but not born there.

In 1851, the census shows the three families living at what was the “Leigh Workhouse” – the Seal family; the Hanmore family; and the Collins family.

By 1854 the Vestry decided to take down the three parish tenements ‘at the back of the poor house’ and erect three new tenements facing the turnpike road; and in 1856 the Vestry decided to take down the old Poor House itself and erect three further cottages: Humphrey Constable, of Penshurst tendered to the parish officers of Leigh to build these three cottages or tenements for the sum of £160.00*** provided he had ”the privilege of using such materials as may be sound and good” from the old Workhouse.  However, the Vestry would accept the estimate of Edward Wheatley of £148.

On 7 January 1858, an agreement was signed between George Sales and the Trustees of the Charities of the Poor of the Parish Leigh for the letting and hiring of that Part of the Charity Property shown as the Poor House Land.  George Sales hired the land and lodges for £13 per annum.  There were other conditions stipulated in this agreement.

Eventually, the two blocks of tenements and the land of the former Poor House site were purchased by Samuel Morley in 1879.  We can see these properties in the following photograph:

Brickmakers Arms, plus view looking up the Hill towards two terraces of cottages furthest in picture) which were pulled down to make way for Saxby Wood in 1968/69

Brickmakers Arms, plus view looking up the Hill towards two terraces of cottages furthest in picture) which were pulled down to make way for Saxby Wood in 1968/69

 

Pear Tree Cottages, 1953, the High Street towards Penshurst. Later replaced by Saxby Wood.

Pear Tree Cottages, 1953, the High Street towards Penshurst. Later replaced by Saxby Wood.

 

Penshurst Road from the four charity cottages (now the site of Saxby Wood) to the Brickmakers. Postcard postmarked 1915

Penshurst Road from the four charity cottages (now the site of Saxby Wood) to the Brickmakers. Postcard postmarked 1915

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final chapter in this story comes in 1968/69.  Frank Hawkins would write in a newspaper article (undated) “the leasing to Sevenoaks Rural District Council by Leigh Parish Council of the land on which six parish houses and gardens now stand for building purposes is an interesting development on Land which has been in the Parish possession for at least five centuries”.  For in 1968/69 these two blocks of cottages were pulled down to make way for the social housing at Saxby Wood as it is today.  The meadow at the back would form part of the Leigh Allotments and is owned by a Trust, the Morley Trust, for the use of the village.

 

* Various leases/bequests are held in the Kent Archives at Maidstone and bear such names as William Wyllard, William Ashdowne, Sir Henry Sidney, Richard Waller, William Chyldren, John Godden (Vicar) and Oliver Budgen among others.  Eventually, in 1901, the Board of Charity Commissioners for England and Wales, upon application made to them by the Vicar, Churchwardens and two Overseers of the Poor of the Parish approved a scheme for the regulation of the Leigh United Charities, managed by four trustees of whom the Vicar is Chairman.  Thus all these bequests were merged under one umbrella.  In addition, a later bequest, the Crandall Charity Bequest is also under the management of the Trustees – the Vicar, Churchwardens and Chairman of the Parish Council.  Thus the Church continues its role in helping the poorer residents of the Parish, who by reason of illness, age, physical incapacity or infirmity are in want of assistance. 

** Further notes from Frank Hawkins gives further light on this tendering process for letting the poor house lands.  In November 1835 the Overseers of the Poor invited tenders for letting the land ‘the Poor House Land to be let to the Highest Tender for one Year commencing at Michs.1835 (approved security to be given if required).  Subject to the payment of Tythe Poor Rate and all other taxes.  The land to remain swarded the Tenant to have the use of Lodge and Yard leaving sufficient space for Fagot Stacks for the use of the Poor House .. the manure to be taken by Valuation’.  A tender was received from one William Wicking as follows: ‘I tender for land contiguous to the Workhouse Garden if allowed to sell the produce and without rates I will give for the four acres of meadow land and sand pit £18 per year. If this should not be the highest Tender will give 1:13:6 more than any other Tender. William Wicking.  This tender resulted in William Wicking obtaining the lease of the land in the following terms: Mr Wicking hath taken the Leigh poor House meadows from the Overseers Francis Marchant and James Usherwood for one year from Michs 1835 at the clear yearly rent of twenty one pounds eighteen shillings.  Mr Wicking to pay the Tythe Poor Rate and all other rates.  The land to be kept swarded and no part of it broken up.  Mr Wicking to have the use of the lodge and yard leaving room for fagot stacks for use of the Poor House.  Security to be given if required.  Leigh Novr 23 1835.

 ***Humphrey Constable’s tender to the Parish Officers of Leigh:  ‘I am willing to build 3 cottages or tenements of the size and dimensions as those lately erected on the same premises, to take as part of the contract the old house known as the old Workhouse to have the privilege of using such materials as may be sound and good.  The timbers of the following scantling … concluding .. to paint the doors windows skirtings chimney  pieces sparrows and facia boards, 3 coats common colour, for the sum of £160-0-0.  15 May 1856.

Biblio:
Lawrence Biddle: Leigh in Kent 1550-1900
Chris Rowley/Joyce Field – miscellaneous notes on Health and Doctors in Leigh
Frank Hawkins:  undated Newspaper article on the building of Saxby Wood
Vestry Minutes: 1823-1844
Frank Hawkins: notes on Leigh Parochial Charities and miscellaneous notes on Leigh Poor House
Website article on Sevenoaks Workhouse
“Children of the Sevenoaks Workhouse” by Eric Keyes
“Using Poor Law Records”, Pocket Guide to Family History, Public Record Office publication, by Simon Fowler