In 1715 Frances Geering (née Jennings), before her marriage to William Geering, assigned in trust a sum of money with some goods and chattels for ultimate disposal either by direction during her lifetime, or by her will.
In her will, dated 1723, she bequeathed the sum to her brother, John Jennings, and Walter Tyrrell (and two others, deceased); they were directed to purchase, immediately after her death, a house or ground for the building of alms houses for six poor widows to live in. They were to be chosen preferably from those born in the parish, but others as they saw fit, “being the greatest objects of charity”. The almshouses are in the High Street, by the War Memorial, and have since been converted to just 2 dwellings.
The remainder of the money was to be spent in buying land, the rent from which, after repairs and upkeep of the almshouses had been met, should be put to six new cloth gowns and coats for the widows entering the almshouses, and thereafter a new coat and gown every two years. Any remaining moneys were to be shared among them in quarterly payments. The trustees had power to evict any of the women in case of quarrels or unseemly behaviour. In 1734 this was ordered to be done, so presumably Frances Geering died shortly before that.
Among lands purchased for this charity, old names of localities appear: Town Mead, the Green, the Frith, the Marsh Lands, an orchard called Farthings, Hillmead Road, Lower East Field, and Upper East Field (bounded by the Holloway). Some of these can be identified; Town Mead was north of the village, beyond Bishop’s Manor, and west of the great East Field which stretched from Icknield Way down the whole of the east side of the village and beyond. The orchard called Farthings, owned previously by Robert Loder and mentioned in his accounts, as we have already seen, is given as adjoining the charity school house.
In the 1893 scheme the income of the almshouse account was all that from the Frances Geering charity, plus half of that from the Matthew Eaton charity, which was established in 1772.
- David (Webmaster) –
12 Jan 2009
This charity is now THE FRANCES GEERING ALMSHOUSE CHARITY – Charity Number 204399 -. See the Charity Commission’s web site for more information. http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/