The story of the charities began in 1603 with a legacy from John Wrench, who was the tenant farmer of land now occupied by Stamford Street, and over the past 400+ years that original bequest and over 40 other legacies have grown into the organisation that today is the charity which is now known as Southwark (Christchurch & St Mary’s) Charities. Before the creation of the Charity Commission, gifts, bequests, endowments and legacies were usually given to the local parish and administered by the Parish or Vestry Clerk. During the 19th Century the process of grouping these legacies into formal charitable organisations with the same objects, e.g. relief of poverty, or support for the elderly, began and continues to the present day. Details of the group of charities which now comprise Southwark Charities can be found here – SC Family Tree
1. Christchurch United Charities
(a) Edward Edwards’ Charity
The charity was established under a deed of gift by Edward Edwards, a parishioner of Christchurch, dated 2 November 1717, to build and maintain Almshouses which would provide shelter for “poor decayed housekeepers and widows” (“not receiving any alms or pension from the said parish or any other”), each of them to receive 40s a year and a gown of a purple colour “without any badge” every two years. Edward Edwards’ gift was the rents on some messuages (dwellings) on Upper Ground on which he had a long lease; the trustees were charged firstly with collecting sufficient rents to buy a suitable plot of land, then secondly to collect sufficient rents to erect the almshouse on that plot. The land, a plot known as the “Physick Garden”, comprising an area of 2 acres, 2 roods and 27 perches (1.08 hectares, or 10,800 square metres) plus 6 old houses fronting the Green Walk was purchased for £350 in 1752, and the first almshouse was built the following year. Further almshouses followed, after the laying out of Blackfriars Road. By the 1820’s the trustees had continued to invest and extend the almshouses and there were 44 almswomen by that date.
In 1861 the London, Chatham & Dover Railway compulsorily purchased 11 houses at the eastern edge of the estate to lay the viaduct carrying the line into Blackfriars Station.
The Charity became known by the name of Edward Edwards Charity by the scheme dated 29th July 1890 upon the direction of The Board of the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales.
In 1891 the original Almshouses were demolished and in over the next few years new Almshouses consisting of 40 rooms were constructed. Those dwellings were in use up to 1973 when the current Almshouse was opened by HRH Princess Anne.
By an Order dated 31st October 1902 the benefit of the Charity was restricted to persons who were not less than 60 years of age.
Orders made by the Commissioners dated 13th July 1920 and 19th October 1928 made a number of administrative changes to the previous schemes.
In 2005 the existing Almshouse, which then comprised 38 bed-sitting rooms with a separate kitchen & bathroom, was converted into 20 one bedroom flats, and the kitchens and bathrooms were upgraded at the same time.
(b) Christchurch Parochial & Vaughan Pensions Charity
(i) Christchurch Parochial Charities
The Scheme of the Commissioners dated 7th May 1895 brought the administration of 18 small Charities which had been created by various wills and gifts dating from 1627 to 1815 under the control of the body to be known as Christchurch Parochial Charities.
The income of the charity was used for the maintenance of any property owned by the charity and the cost of administration, in addition, the residue would first have to be applied to funds such as:
The Charity of William Boyce towards the cost of the organist of the Parish Church and payable to the Churchwardens of Christ Church Southwark;
Another Charity was required to provide funds to assist Distressed Clergymen and the monies were payable to the Bishop of the Diocese;
Another for the benefit of the Christchurch Southwark Parochial Schools.
The balance of the income was to be paid by way of a stipend to ten pensioners, who were required to be poor persons of good character.
It should be noted that at the date of the Scheme the Parish of Christchurch Southwark was administered by the Diocese of Rochester. The Diocese of Southwark did not come in to existence until 1910.
The administration continued as described until 1975 when the The William Boyce Poor Housekeepers Fund, the Christchurch Charity for the Poor and the Vaughan Pension Charity were merged under a scheme of the Commission dated 27th August 1975.
It should be noted that the administration of the smaller Parochial Charities were transferred to the Diocese of Rochester and to the Christchurch Parish Parochial Council.
(ii) Vaughan Pension Charity
The Charity was established by a Scheme of the Commissioners dated 12th December 1905.
The original Scheme called for the payment of £10 annually to the Rector of Eccles Parish of Christchurch, Southwark with the remainder of the income being used to pay pensions to poor persons of good character who had resided in the area of benefit for not less than 5 years and to the relief generally or individually to persons resident in the area of benefit who were in conditions of need, hardship or distress.
The above Charities were merged in accordance with the Schemes of the 7th June 1971 and 27th August 1975 however, the objects of these charities have changed little over to ensuing years since they came into being.
2. Albert Institute and Marlborough Street Estate
The original scheme of this Charity dates from 27th November 1885 and occupied premises known as the Albert Institute located in Robert Street, Blackfriars under a lease granted by the Edward Edwards Charity for a term of 80 years from the 24th May 1886. It must be assumed that name given to the Charity was related to the memory of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, following his death in 1861. However, this was actually the second building by the name of the Albert Institute, as the first one, erected using funds collected over many years by the Reverend Joseph Brown, Rector of Christchurch, was built in 1859 in Gravel Lane (now Great Suffolk Street), on the eastern side of the railway, but 13 years later it was subject to compulsory purchase to enable the east/west and north/south railway lines to be connected via a bend, and was demolished in 1875.
The Scheme of the Commissioners dated 12th July 1901 provided for the letting of the building for educational, philanthropic or other public purposes but no such lettings were to interfere with the enjoyment of the Institute by poor persons.
The provisions of the aforementioned scheme continued to apply up to 22nd September 1972 and the lease having expired the building reverted to the Edward Edwards Charity.
During the inter war years the name of Robert Street was changed to Chancel Street and following the expiry of the lease, the Edward Edwards Charity let the property to the Electoral Reform Society. In 2015 the Philharmonia Orchestra administration moved in.
The Scheme of the 22nd September 1972 defined the objects as being the relief of the aged, impotent and poor inhabitants of the area of the former Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, the relief of distress and sickness among the said inhabitants and the provision and support of facilities for recreation or other leisure time occupations.
The Marlborough Street Estate refers to houses on a site adjacent to the Christ Church Workhouse in Marlborough Street, roughly where the Lambeth Southwark College is today. The rents from these houses were directed towards the Albert Institute.
3. St. Mary Newington United Charities
The United Charities were established by the Scheme of the Commission dated 5th July 1904.
Prior to this date a number of charitable trusts created by the wills of some eight persons dating from as early as 1619 to 1862, the Henry Smith Charity by a deed dated 10th December 1641, the Copyhold Estates Charity, the Elephant Castle Charity and King and Queen Charity by a Scheme of the High Court of Chancery dated 25th June 1852 and Mann’s Annuity Fund by a Scheme of the High Court of Chancery dated 5th February 1870.
The Charity of John Walter established by a Scheme of the High Court of Chancery dated 29th April 1861 as amended by a Schemes of the Commissioners of the 27th April 1877 and 23rd March 1888 gave the right for the Parish of St Mary Newington to nominate three-fourths of the residents of the Almshouses.
Orders of the Charity Commission dated 6th October 1899, 26th March 1901,11th October 1901 and 30th October 1903 allowed the Copyhold Estates Charity to purchase certain lands in the Parish of St Mary, Lambeth for the benefit of that Charity.
Under the Scheme of 1904 two of the small charities having an income less than £50 were to be administered by the Rector and Churchwardens of the parish of St Mary Newington.
A separate Charity to be called the St Mary Newington Educational Foundation was also established to be administered by the trustees of the St Mary Newington United Charities and to be paid a yearly sum of £600.
Little is known about the Copyhold Estates Charity referred to in para 2 prior to the reference to it in the Order of 1901 however it is understood that the term “Copyhold” refers to an ancient form of land tenure legally defined as a “holding at the will of the lord of the manor. However, the Copyhold Estates Charity was the owner of the famous Elephant & Castle Public House, in front of which stood the statue of the Elephant with a Castle or tower-like structure upon its back, which now stands outside the Shopping Centre.
The Copyhold Acts of 1841 to 1887 were consolidated by the Copyhold Act 1894, and the Property Act 1922 abolished all copyhold tenure.
The Scheme of 1904 continued to provide for the trustees to appoint three-fourths of residents of the Almhouse belonging to John Walter and administered by the Drapers Company.
The Scheme also provided for the expenditure out of capital of £3,000 for the building and furnishing of an Institute for the training of Nurses in addition to the sum of £500 yearly towards the maintenance however, this provision was discontinued at the inception of the National Health Service.
The Almshouses in Drapers Street, Walworth which were transferred from the Copyhold Estates Charity housed 16 persons and continued to be occupied on that site until 1966 when they were compulsorily acquired together with the John Walter’s Almshouses jointly by the Greater London Council and Southwark Council as part of the Elephant and Castle Redevelopment Plan.
The present Almshouses of the Charity are relocated in Surrey Square, Walworth, SE17 2LP and named St Mary Newington Close, and consisting of 42 one bedroom flats.
The John Walters Almshouses were rebuilt and located in Brandon Street, Walworth, SE 17.
The Charity continues today very much as when established by the scheme of 1904 apart from minor administrative changes by subsequent orders of Commission over the years.
4. St Mary Newington Educational Foundation
The Charity was established by a scheme of the Charity Commission dated 1904.
The scheme provides for not less than 40% of the annual income to be distributed to the four Church of England Schools in the ancient parish of St Mary Newington and the residue to provide grants for educational purposes to pupils residing in or attending schools in the area of benefit.
5. Joseph Collier Holiday Trust
The Joseph Collier Holiday Trust was established by a scheme of the Charity Commission in 1966 following the bequest by Joseph Collier to provide a holiday home for persons over the age of 60 and residing in the area of the former Metropolitan Borough of Southwark.
A property was acquired in Bexhill but unfortunately due to ever rising costs the property was disposed of and the proceeds invested however, grants to individual applicants residing in the area of benefit and who qualify by reason of their age continue to be made.
Joseph Collier was a resident of Southwark and the proprietor of a Drapery Store located at the Elephant & Castle.