In amongst items recently given to the museum concerning charities there is a blue envelope addressed to Revd E B Cockayne Frith who was the Vicar at the time the letter was sent.
It is clearly marked Townsend Charity and has an official duty paid mark for 1897.
There is, of course, a letter inside.
We do not have the letter sent by the Vicar that elicited this reply but we assume he may have been wanting to simplify charity work The enclosure, which we have transcribed below, gives the details of the Townsend Charity.
Extract from the Printed Parliamentary Reports of the Former Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities. Vol 28. Page 386. Dated 10th January 1834.
James Townsend, of Great Cheverell, by His Will, bearing date 12th May 1725 bequeathed to the Churchwardens and Over-seer-s of the Poor for the time being of the Parish of Market Lavington the yearly sum of 40/- upon trust with the approbation of the Minister for the time being, to layout the same on two cloth coats of a grey colour and two hats for the use of two such poor men of the said parish as had no relief of the said Parish or to buy clothes therewith for two such poor women of the said parish as they should think fit to be delivered to them On St Thomas’s Day yearly; and his will was, that the said sum should be paid yearly out of his closes and lands in Easterton which he purchased of William Edwards for and during the term and estate which he then had or should have therein and he did thereby charge the said closes and lands for the due payment thereof.
The last distribution of clothes under this Charity was made about 60 years ago. A belief exists in the parish of Great Cheverell that the lands Charged with the annual payment of 40/- were only leasehold and that the Charity hath ceased in consequence of the termination of the lease. No mention is made of Townsend’s Charity in the Parliamentary Returns of 1786.
So it seems this charity only really existed in the 18th century although it was still on the books at the end of the 19th.