Charity Lands – Conditions of Letting
The land may be used solely for grazing sheep
The land may not be sub-let
The land may be neither dug nor ploughed
Permanent sub-dividing fences may not be erected
The land must not be allowed to be poached nor to be eroded through the excessive feeding of animals, to which purpose feeders should be relocated frequently
All fertilizer required must be supplied by the grazier
The clerk should be advised of fences and gates in need of attention for consideration by the Council, which will arrange for any necessary work to be carried out.
Seven Local Charities
When the Parish Council was inaugurated in 1895 it took over the responsibility for administering seven local charities from the church wardens and overseers. Following the appointment of officers, the first business of the Council was the Charity Lands and this topic accounted for about 80% of Council business for the next 60 years, until the mid-1950s.
Two local charities began in the late eighteenth century. Evan Davies and James Edward Morris both left money in their wills to be distributed to the poor of St Harmon. The Morris and Davies Charities generated the sum of £1/10/0 per year (£1.50) and in 1848 this was augmented by the income of £1 per year from the Pant Charity, an allotment of enclosed common land on the northern edge of the Parish. Four local councillors (later reduced to two) were appointed as trustees of the Pant Charity.
The Deserving Poor
The Enclosure Acts of the nineteenth century created further charitable funds in the form of allotments of land awarded to the overseers of St Harmon for the benefit of ‘ such of the labouring poor as shall be deemed to be deserving.’ There were six awards from the 1857 Enclosure Act that the Parish Council took over and administered as a trustee:
Sarn Oleuddu (about 2½ acres, near West Fedw);
Crugyn (2 acres, also known as Marteg Garden or Criggin, adjacent to Crugyn);
Turbary (65 acres donated by the Lord of the Manor of Clas Garmon in 1865, adjacent to Beili Bedw);
The Recreation Field (about 2¼ acres, adjacent to Baileyhaulwen);
And two School Allotments (making provision for future schools to be built on a 5 acre plot at Pengraig and a one acre plot at Gwenfron).
All seven charities came under the collective title of the Morris and Davies Charities.
Fuel for the Poor
The Turbary allotment was donated to be ‘used by the inhabitants of St Harmon for the cutting and curing of peat to be used as a fuel ……. but not for sale or any other purposes whatsoever’ and furthermore ‘when such peat or any portion thereof shall be exhausted to let the surface of such land for the best rent that can be got ……. and apply the proceeds for the purchase of fuel for the poor of the Parish’. The peat seems to have been exhausted by 1895 and the Council decided to distribute the proceeds of the allotment in money and not as a fuel.
Following the Elementary Education Act 1870, the preferred sites were chosen in St Harmon village and Nantgwyn for the location of schools and the school land allocations at Pencraig and Gwenfron became surplus to requirements. In 1897 the management of the sites was handed back to the churchwardens and the annual rents thereafter were paid to the two schools.
End of the Dipping Bath
The Recreation Field was allotted as a place of exercise and recreation for the inhabitants of St Harmon and neighbourhood. The railway ran through the middle of the plot and, following the closure of the rail line in 1962, the Council paid around £100 to purchase that portion of the track bed that ran through the field. The field contained a dipping bath and local farmers paid a fee for its use. In 1985 it was decided to cease maintenanceof the bath because it was only used by two farmers.
Recipients Named in the Parish Hall
Since 1895 the charity lands have been rented out, by tender, on an annual basis and the proceeds distributed to the poor of the parish. The maintenance of the fences, gates, stiles and drainage has been the responsibility of the trustees. The first distribution of charity money was in January 1897 and 50 people received amounts ranging from two shillings to five shillings. Every year in December a distribution took place with usually over 50 people receiving charity moneys and their names were posted in the Parish Hall. January 1951 was the last distribution. In 1952 the Council announced there was insufficient money in the fund for a distribution in that year.
End of Poverty
For the next few decades the charity lands continued to be maintained and the rents were collected but the funds were virtually dormant. There is no record of any payment to the people of the parish over this period. After 1948 the development of the welfare state meant that ‘the poor’ had become an outdated concept and the parish councillors were struggling to find a meaningful role for the funds in their care. Advice from the Charities Commission suggested ‘poor’ is a relative term and may refer to persons who, through circumstances, are perhaps worse off than they had been in the past. Further advice from the Commission suggested that the Council could appoint independent trustees to take over the management of the charities.
New Trustees: the Evan Davies Charity
The Council considered the Recreation Field and decided that, as the objective of the Recreation Field Charity is the recreation and exercise of the St Harmon inhabitants, the responsibility for this charity should remain with the Council. In 2008 four independent trustees were recruited and appointed to manage the four remaining charities: Pant, Crugyn, Sarn Oleuddu and Turbary and the charity funds were divided up proportionately between the Council and the new charities. The four charities are now known collectively as the Evan Davies Charity, Number 229155 and full details are on the Charity Commission website.
© PB 2017
Source: Parish/Community Council minutes and correspondence
THE CHARITY LANDS IN 1895 ACRES ROODS PERCHES ANNUAL RENT
Sarn Oeuddu Allotment 2 2 26 2/6
Crugyn 2 0 0 £1/10/0
Recreation Field 2 1 16 £1/0/0
Turbary Hill Allotment 65 3 34 £5/0/0
Pant Charity 1 0 19 £1/0/0
School Allotment (Gwenfron) 1 0 22 5/-
School Allotment (Pencraig) 5 0 24 £2/0/0