Leigh United Charities
The United Charities of the Ancient Parish of Leigh (which included what is now part of Hildenborough) were constituted and approved by the Charity Commission on 9 August 1901. It brought together seven different wills, deeds and deeds of feoffment dated 1602, 1603, 1620, 1622, 1662, 1675 and 1713. These bequests consisted of various lands, houses, rent charges and investments, the resultant income to be used for poor individuals of the Parish (not for any organization).
Under the 1901 scheme the Trustees of the Charity consisted of one ex-officio trustee and three representative trustees, the ex-officio trustee to be the Vicar for the time being of the Parish of Leigh and the representative trustees to be two appointed by the Parish Council of Hildenborough, the latter three trustees not necessarily to be Parish Councillors. The aim of the Charity is to give aid, either in kind or monetary, to individuals within the area of the Ancient parish of Leigh, either long-term or temporary, upon a request to the Trustees. Over the years the various bequests have been closely monitored by the Trustees and the income derived from the disposal of property, as instructed by the Charity Commission, has been invested to ensure an income in perpetuity.
Two of the bequests were for the supply of bread opt the poor. On the first Wednesday of each quarter between 4 and 4.30pm bread was issued to deserving folk. This practice ceased in 1920. The other bread issue was on Sundays – the bread, in a large basket, being deposited in the Church porch. This continued until the outbreak of World War II at least and there are men in the village who well remember pushing the heavy tradesmen’s bicycles up Church Hill with the bread. Loaves weighed in at 4lbs in those days (1.81 kgs). More practical help was organized during and after the war and still continues.
The assistance granted in most cases at present is by way of a contribution towards monthly heating or in some cases grocery bills with additional assistance with the latter at Christmas. Help is also given to families undertaking hospital visits and in some cases to those out of work in the present recession.
Any requests for help will be sympathetically and confidentially considered by the Trustees within the parameters of the 1901 scheme.
(Parish Magazine: January 1997 – no author)