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Our History

The Old Charities of Uxbridge
By Philip Colehan
Issued by
The Uxbridge
Local History Society

For 23 years Philip Colehan was Head Librarian for the London Borough of Hillingdon and during that time he strongly supported the cause of local history. When the Barbara Jones mural painting (featured in this booklet) was no longer needed in the entrance hall to Colham House in Bakers Road, Mr Colehan made sure that it came to Uxbridge Library. When a fine Windsor chair, made in Uxbridge about 1800, came up for auction, he made funds available to secure it for the local collection. Prior to his retirement in 1987, Philip Colehan was able to influence the planning of one of the town's great assets - the Central Library.
In his retirement he continues to show an interest in our local history, and the Uxbridge Local History Society is glad to have the opportunity to publish his account of the old charities of the district. Happily this coincides with the centenary of the founding of the Uxbridge United Charities.
The Society is pleased to acknowledge the help given by the Trustees of the Uxbridge United Welfare Trusts by making their archive material available to Mr Colehan. Special thanks are due to Sue Pritchard (chair), and to Lew Pond, who has been a trustee since 1953.

Uxbridge Almshouses

Cover Picture:
Lizzie Gristwood sealed at the door of her Almshouse cl920

September 2006


Locked in the strong room at Uxbridge Library is a historical document which dates from around 1179. Known as 'Bassetts Grant1 it has had a far reaching effect upon the development, prosperity and history of Uxbridge. Charitable work which stems from that grant continues to be of benefit to residents even to the present day. One hundred years after the Norman conquest, the

Manor of Colham, of which Uxbridge was then part, was owned by Gilbert Bassett, a French nobleman. In 1179 he issued this document, which like all medieval documents was written in Latin on parchment; it begins 'Gilbert Bassett to all Barons of the Honor of Walhngford and his neighbours and friends, greeting. Know ye thai our Lord Harry, King of England, hath granted me liberty to make a market in my town of Wxebruge\


The 12th Century Market Grant

To have received this charter from the King giving permission for markets and fairs to be held in the town was a great privilege. Being at a river crossing on the main road from London to Oxford placed Uxbridge in an ideal position to take this opportunity to attract trade.

As the markets and fairs attracted more and more custom to the town, so too did the town develop. Millers (to grind corn brought to market), innkeepers, brewers and shopkeepers of all descriptions prospered and, of course, so too did the Lord of the Manor. For every sack of corn, for every head of cattle, for every market stall, a fee was charged and collected by the Lord's steward.

From an early date, certainly by 1520, it had become the custom for the Lord of the Manor to donate some of this income to relief of the poor. There were other demands upon the income including the building and maintenance of the Market House, the first one of which was completed in 1561.
For many years the Lordship of the Manor was passed from one generation to another by inheritance. In 1630 the title was held by the Countess of Derby who lived in Harefield, and it was her custom at the annual court meeting to hand over all the money from the tolls back to the townspeople in support of local charities. For some reason they were not satisfied by this procedure and thought that Bassett's Grant entitled them to the tolls rather than the Lord of the Manor. Meetings were held with the Countess's steward and these became more and more acrimonious. After over a year of arguing the Countess became annoyed and sent an order to her bailiffs in which she said that henceforth she would arrange to collect and distribute the tolls as she thought fit.
In the summer of 1631 an armed mob threw

the toll collectors out of the market and appropriated the toll corn for themselves. The Countess immediately started legal proceedings and took the leaders of the uprising to court. The townspeople in court argued that they were claiming their rights from Bassett's Grant. When the document was produced none of the townspeople could read Latin, nor could their solicitor, nor could the judge, but, of course, the Countess's solicitor could. The court decided in her favour.
Nevertheless, rioting continued and so the Countess commenced proceedings in the Star Chamber. This notorious court could enforce excessive punishments, including torture. Not surprisingly, the leaders of the rioters wrote grovelling letters of apology begging the Countess's forgiveness and eventually the proceedings were withdrawn and the fines cancelled. The whole affair ended amicably with a venison feast given by the Countess and the charities of the town resumed receiving a share of the market tolls. (In the entrance hall of Uxbridge Library is a mural painted by Barbara Jones depicting these events).

The Barbara Jones mural showing the disturbances, the court case and the banquet

In 1669 the Manor of Colham was divided and a separate Manor of Uxbridge came into being. During the Civil War the townspeople again appropriated the tolls only to have them restored to the Lord of the Manor in 1672. However, the long running dispute was finally settled when* the Lordship of the Manor was sold to seven leading inhabitants of Uxbridge for £550 in 1695. One of the purchasers was Edmund Baker, grandson of the man who led the dispute with the Countess.

In 1729 he was one of the only two survivors of those who had bought the title and they generously conveyed it to a charitable trust for the benefit of the town. Trustees were appointed with power to appoint successors who shall be 'inhabitants and housekeepers in the said town'. From then on over the centuries, right down to the present day, the procedure which started in 1729 of the Trustees appointing successors has continued.


The market rights and the manorial title were passed to the Trustees and they became known as 'The Lords in Trust of the Manor and Borough of Uxbridge'; a title which is still retained. More tangible assets included all the tolls from markets and fairs, the Market House and various properties and pieces of land from which they received rental income. The Town Crier, a Hogherd and a Keeper of the Pound were employed but after paying all the expenses the rest of the income was devoted towards local charitable purposes.
In 1729 the income amounted to under £100 but as the popularity of the market grew it became obvious that the market house was inadequate and was inconveniently restricting traffic on the High Street. The old market house was demolished in 1788 and a new one was built on an extended, more spacious site. It cost £3000 which was met by the Lords in Trust with the support of voluntary contributions. On the ground floor corn was traded and although the upper floor rooms were designed to store corn they were soon used for other functions including a boy's school, a girl's school, a savings bank and a reading room.    Until 1981 the building was

owned by The Lords in Trust but then it was sold, advantageously, to an insurance company.
In 1732 The Lords in Trust received £89 in income and expenditure was £89. As the market continued to prosper so too did the income from tolls and by 1800 (after the new market house had opened) it was averaging £1000 a year: Uxbridge was by now the largest pitched corn market in the country.
Giles Hutson, an Uxbridge saddler and harness maker, described the market at its peak:
"Early in the morning even by five and six o'clock, the farmers' waggons laden with corn for sale began to arrive. They came from Shepherds Bush, Willesden, Edgware, Hendon, Staines, Hounslow, Hampton and other places on the Thames between Marlow and Kingston, many came from Rickmansworth, Chalfont, Wycombe, Amersham and Missenden and even from the country around Chinnor ".




Giles Hutson of Uxbridge 1823 - 1904
The custom of the market authorities was to take one pint from each sack of corn as the toll and the quantity thus taken representing 2,752 sacks of wheat was offered for sale with a money value of £4000. Corn received from the tolls was sold by the Trustees and this together with other income was used for charitable purposes.
From that peak of activity there followed a decline in the corn market and a fall in the value of corn. This meant that the income to be used to support charity declined, but there must also have been some disquiet about the administration of the Trust.
In 1823 the Charity Commissioners investigated charities in Uxbridge and produced a detailed report. This showed that expenditure was too great and the Trust was in debt.    Trustees received criticism for not

collecting rents and for issuing overlong leases on property. In order to balance the books the allowance to widows of 2 shillings per week was reduced by 6 pence; support for the girls' school was reduced by half from £21 per annum; support for the boys' school was reduced from 50 guineas to £21 per annum; the salary of the Clerk to the Market was reduced from £40 pa to £30 pa.
Despite being rapped over the knuckles by the Charity Commissioners, and after introducing economies to balance the books, the Trustees attracted the wrath of an anonymous contributor to a local newspaper in 1830. It seems the Trustees had held one of their regular meetings at the George Inn. The letter described:
"A grand tuck-in on the appointment of fresh
The problem is the old Trustees; 'Old
Brown' a worthy feeder when it costs him
nothing, a money lender.   Will Lake who
allowed one of his sons to die from want and
transported another.   Poor Old Joe Basseit,
a corn salesman, who could not attend the
feast as it was on market day.
Now comes fresh elected:
WC Brown, tailor, son to the Chairman; R
Anie, son-in-law to the Chairman, liar
extraordinary and not a parishioner of
Uxbridge; W Hill, tenant of the Chairman;
Robert Austin, protege of the Chairman and
partly connected to the above tenant; John
Love 11, the churchwarden; W Hammond is on
the point of marriage with the Chairman's
niece, a widow with plenty of cash; W
Goodman, lay churchwarden and fresh
imported to the town of Uxbridge; Thomas
Lake, son of the Trustee and not an inhabitant
of Uxbridge; John Mercer, lay
Now Mr Editor, there must surely have been
some good pickings as the party did not
separate until nearly two o 'clock and most of
them very lushly.

- 1855 -
Showing the old and new almshouses





The Almshouses 1845 - 1907

The present Almshouses opened in 1907

It is more than likely that the writer was one of a group of radical writers for which Uxbridge was well known at the time. However, records of the annual accounts show income and expenditure with meticulous attention to detail throughout the latter part of the 19lhcentury. By which time there was no longer any substantial income from market tolls, but income from rents on property and land were increasing.

them in 1845 with provision for 16 inmates at a cost of £1007. By the end of the century they were badly in need of replacement and the manorial trustees realised that the substantial costs involved in finding a new site and rebuilding the almshouses were greater than they could afford. Discussions were opened with Trustees of other charities in the town, as a result of which the Charity Commissioners approved a Scheme to consolidate the Manor and Borough Charity with other charities to form in 1906 Uxbridge United Charities.

In 1840 the Lords in Trust were:

Edward Brown, Henry Geary,
Henry Grainge, Samuel Hull,
William Hull, John W Knollys and
William Norton.
There were squalid slums and distressing poverty in the yards of the town and the resources of various charities were stretched to try to meet the needs of the poor, especially the elderly poor. The Lords in Trust had been involved in the provision of almshouses in The Lynch before 1727 and had replaced

In 1900 the Lords in Trust were:
John Mercer, William Fassnidge,
Henry Grainge, Henry Woodbridge,
John S Ferris, Ambrose Charpentier,
J Grimsdale, John Fountain,
William Lakeman and
John C Hibbert.


On 25th May 1906 the Charity Commissioners approved applications from the Lords In Trust and the Trustees of two other charities for the creation of Uxbridge United Charities'. In the year following another ten charities transferred their resources, management and administration under the same umbrella.
Although this bringing together and rationalising the charities made good sense, it must have been a nightmare for the eleven 'competent' volunteers who became Trustees to sort out. Each of the ten ancient charities transferred their assets of land, property and shares into a common fund.

Although this meant that the Trust held substantial assets they also had to face the urgent and expensive requirement to replace the almshouses. A site was found off New Windsor Street and 20 almshouses were built at a cost of £3400 and in March 1907 the first occupant moved in. The old site in Windsor Street was sold and for many years it was the site of the Uxbridge Post Office.
In the first year of the new Trust an income of £689 was received. Priority was given to maintaining the almshouses and. providing the 'inmates' (as they were called) with a pension


of two shillings a week. Any residual money was reserved for the general benefit of poor people (of whom there were many) in the township of Uxbridge. Also managed by the Trustees was Lord Ossulton's charity which paid for needy boys to be indentured as apprentices. The grants were not less than £20 or more than ££51 for outdoor apprenticeships, and £3Q for indoor ones.
From the early years of the 20th century there
was an awakening public recognition of the
harsh conditions suffered by poor people in
the   country.      Gradually   reforms   were
introduced nationally which gave benefits to needy people and there followed a transfer of many functions to central and local government. As the century progressed it was necessary for local charities, such as Uxbridge United Charities, to re-examine their responsibilities in the light of changing circumstances.
Fortunately the Trustees, despite the distress of two World Wars, had been quietly carrying on running the almshouses and making charitable provision for the poor. Sensibly and prudently they marshalled their assets. In 1933 the Clerk to the Trustees produced a detailed and comprehensive report on land and properties owned by the Trust. There are several pages listing the properties, the tenants and the gross yearly income which then totalled £742 5s.5d.
In 1957 the Trustees of Uxbridge United Charities were:
Rev Luther Bouch, James Edward Pond,
Lewis Richard Pond, John Hutton,
Henry Lewis Saunders,
Horace Bedford Leno,
William Edward Black, Norman Fenton,
Sarah Hannah Dubberley,
Minnie Tomblin and Percy Ernest Bates.

By the 1980's the property portfolio had been rationalised. Some, like the Market House, were sold and others bought. Twenty three commercial and residential properties all in central Uxbridge are now owned by the Trust.
Good husbandry of these resources meant that when it became apparent that the almshouses needed to be modernised there were sufficient resources to carry out the work. Each of the twenty almshouses was in 1985 individually extended to provide, amongst other improvements, modern kitchen facilities.
Apart from improving the housing conditions for residents the Trustees showed sensitivity by re-naming the almshouses 'Woodbridge House' in 1962, in recognition of the long involvement of the Woodbridge family with the Trust.
At about this time the Trustees recognised that there was a need to review the 1906 Scheme of the Charity Commissioners and bring it into line with current practice. After several years of consideration the Charity Commission approved a Scheme for the regulation of the Uxbridge United Charities under a new title 'Uxbridge United Welfare Trusts'. No longer is the word 'charity' to be found in the title.
Amongst a number of other changes included in the Scheme was a definition of the area of benefit that included that of the area of the former Uxbridge Urban District Council. It also re-affirmed that the Trustees must ensure that all properties are well maintained and that the charity expenditure should be used (i) for the Almshouse Branch and (ii) for Relief in Need.
The almshouses had another major building modernisation in 2003 and in 2005 a new hall, Woodbridge Hall, was built for social events and recreation.



THE TRUSTEES of these Charities GIVE NOTICE that they will on TUESDAY, the 12th day of NOVEMBER, 1968, proceed to ELECT 2 ALMS-PERSON (S) to fill vacancy(ies) in the number of Almspcople and Pensioners of the Charities. The ELECTION will TAKE PLACE at 2.30 0 CLOCK on that day at the OFFICE OF THE CLERK, BLAIR HOUSE, VINE STREET, UXBRIDGE.
Poor Persons of good character who have been resident in the Township of Usbridge for TWO YEARS at least, who are not at the time of their appointment   in   receipt   of   National Assistance, other than Medical Relief, and who from age, ill-health,  accident or infirmity, are unable to maintain themselves by their own exertions, are  eligible   for the   appointment.
Preference will be given to
those who have shown reason-
able providence, and to those
who have been longest resident
in the Township.
APPLICATION  for  the  appointment must  be   made  in the first place in writing to the Trustees or their Clerk at Blair House, Vine Street, Uxbridgc, j FOURTEEN DAYS at least previously to the election. Every applicant must state his or her name, address, age, and occupation, and must be prepared with sufficient testimonials and I other evidence of his or her qualification  for  the  appointment
DATED this 21st day of October, 1968.

Clerk lo the Trustees.
NOTE.—Forms of Application
can be obtained of the Clerk
as above.                       U43
Vacancies advertised in 1968
- 10

The market house, built by the Lords in Trust in 1789, and sold by the trustees of
Uxbridge United Charities in 1981.   A grade II listed building, it symbolizes the
town's past as a market centre for much of Middlesex and South Buckinghamshire.

Rounded Rectangle: In 2012, The Trustees Were:-  David Routledge  M.B.E. Chairman John Childs Vice Chairman Raymond Graham Treasurer Michael Cater Pauline Crawley Gerda Driver Cheryl Evans Susan James Alan Morris Peter Ryerson Duncan Struthers





John Marsh by will dated 1557 left the interest of £200 to provide two shillings worth of bread every Sunday to 24 Uxbridge paupers.
Robert Woolman, in 1570, left land to be rented to build a school in Uxbridge and to give £5 annually to the Uxbridge poor. The school, which was subject to a two year limitation period, was never built and the gift lapsed.
John Garrett, a beer brewer in Uxbridge, in 1589 left the income from rents on his shops and stalls in the market place for the use "of the poor people of Woxebridge".
William Skydmore, in 1600, left premises in Uxbridge so that from the income one shilling's worth of bread could be distributed each Sunday.
Sir George Garrett, by will dated 1648, left 4 acres to the use of the "Woxbridge" poor. The land was sold in the 19th century and the proceeds invested.
John Clarke's gift was created by deed in 1704 when his widow carried out her husband's wish to provide a distribution of bread weekly amongst six of the poorest men and six of the poorest women inhabitants of the town.
John Hill, in 1744, left £1 a year to provide 40 Uxbridge paupers with a 6 penny loaf each on Christmas day.
Henry Fell Pease by will dated 1820, left an uncertain amount to assist in the education of poor children.
Poor Allotment - under the 1825 enclosure award, four acres on Uxbridge Moor were allotted to the Uxbridge poor.   One acre was sold in 1903 and the proceeds invested in £313 stock.
William Wells by his will in 1835 gave £800, bringing an income of £15 a year for the benefit of the poor of Uxbridge.
There were also the two other
charities that founded
Uxbridge United Charities:
Lord Ossulton (died 1695) was driving his carriage through Uxbridge one day when he ran over and killed a small boy. By way of expressing his sorrow he left in his will £100 to form a trust to enable poor children from Uxbridge to be apprenticed to a trade. By shrewdly investing the money in land the Trustees were able to maintain an influential charity successfully throughout the years.
Michael Pearce, in his will dated 1695, left tenements in Uxbridge, in trust for the benefit of poor people in the town. Small cash payments were made; in 1823 for example, £23 was distributed amongst 172 paupers.
Miss Sarah Hunter, in 1922 left a legacy of £300 to supply coals for the almshouses.
Charles Woodbridge charity legacy of £100 in 1924. Also to supply coals.
Emily James, in 1920 left the income of £300 stock for the relief of the poor.
Florence Winifred Eden, an almshouse resident - in 1988 left £5,000 to the charity in recognition of the care and kindness afforded to her during her many years at Woodbridge House.
Leonard Fulker, an almshouse resident - in 2006 left £28,263 to the charity in recognition of the care and kindness afforded him during his stay in Woodbridge House.