Laneham Parish Council

Serving the people of Laneham

Clerk: The Clerk

Poor Close Charity

The Poor Close is a field adjoining Broading Lane to the West, and is an "L" shaped area of approximately 3 acres. The grass field is hedged with hawthorn all round. The field is let for horse grazing.
The Poor Close Charity provides help and/or financial assistance for residents of the Parish of Laneham. Small cash grants are available at the discretion of the Trustee (Laneham Parish Council). All applications should be made in writing to the Clerk to the Council by email All applications are dealt with in the strictest confidence.

registered charity 241834

Contact Details: email

Charity History - General

Prior to the creation of Parish Council's in 1894 the Vestry held the power to appoint trustees (the Churchwardens and Overseers) to a non-ecclesiastical charity. This power transferred to Parish Councils in 1894 under the Passing of the Local Government Act 1894.

Between 1597 and 1835 public responsibility for looking after the poor rested with each individual parish. An act of 1572 gave authority for the collection of alms in each parish by an Alms Collector. Then the Alms Collector was replaced by an Overseer of the Poor by The Poor Law Act of 1597/8 which required each parish to appoint overseers of the poor.

The updated Poor Law Act of 1601 extended the functions of 'Overseers' to the Churchwardens and from then on these officials acted together, empowered by that Act to raise through the Poor Rate, whatever was needed to support the parish poor from the owners and occupiers of property. The 'Overseers' were usually appointed in vestry meetings.

The assessments of expenditure and rates collected by the overseers were quite separate from those of the Churchwardens, though they might well be agreed and collected at the same time. In the many places where the Churchwardens were also the Overseers of the poor and vice versa, the resulting accounts were often muddled together in the same books.

In some parishes it became customary for the poor inhabitants, or 'settled poor', to be assisted by the Overseers and for poor vagrants from elsewhere to be dealt with by the Churchwardens. One of the Overseers was generally made responsible for the funds, like a treasurer, and from 1691 they were required to keep note of their disbursements.

The Overseers' responsibilities included the following:

  • To provide 'outdoor relief' (help for the individual at home) and 'indoor relief' (help in an almshouse or workhouse)
  • To provide the most appropriate help. The overseers would not necessarily provide outdoor relief in the form of money. Relief in kind, such as the provision of clothing, food and fuel.
  • To find work for those capable of employment. This was largely an attempt to stop begging by those who could work. These people were sometimes called "sturdy beggars". They also arranged apprenticeships for poor children or orphans.
  • Impose and collect the poor rate. This was a tax imposed on occupiers of property in order to finance the aid of the poor. The overseers would collect the tax from those who were required to pay.

Parish concern for its poor did not end with the creation of Poor Law Unions in 1834. Most places continued some programme of assistance to the poorer inhabitants, with distributions of coal, bread, and small sums of money, all carefully recorded, up to 1894. (the Vestry Book)

Between 1894 and 2011, by statutory power, Parish Councils were able to appoint 4 trustees to the local charities:

  1. Appoint one trustee for each parochial charity in place of each Overseer position who was formerly entitled to be a trustee.
  2. Appoint one trustee in place of each Churchwarden position who was formerly entitled to be a trustee of a non-ecclesiastical charity.

Since 2012, the Charities Act 2011 enabled the implementation of the alternative option of appointment of the Corporate Body of the Council as the Corporate Trusteeship to the local charities. However, the parish council has a duty to choose one option or the other.

The Charity Commission & Small Charities Coalition recommends as a minimum a charity should have no less than 3 trustees and no more than 10 as a maximum.

Charity History - Poor Close & Gladwins Homestead

Report from Charity Commissioners, Volume 11 1828 -

Poors Land in the Parish of Laneham:

It appears from a copy of Court Roll of the Manor of Laneham, that at a court held, 8th Oct 1700, Bernard Minock Jnr, Gervas Harrison, and John Bellamy, surrendered a close, containing two acres for the use of the poor of the parish of Laneham to William Cole. At another court held on 25th April 1773, William Cole, the son and heir of the above mentioned William Cole, surrendered the close to the use of William Goodyear, William Cole, Robert Draper, John Cole, George Minnitt the younger and John Tynn and their heirs in trust for the use of the poor of Laneham. By 1828 it consisted of two closes, adjoining to create two acres, in the occupation of John Willcock, at an annual rent of £11 6s. The Rent was received by the Overseer of the Poor to his general account, out of which a baker has been paid for furnishing 2s worth of bread, every Sunday, which was distributed at church in penny and twopenny loaves, with a small additional amount of bread given at Christmas. The residue of the rent is paid out in coal during winter to the poor of Laneham. A proper account is kept of the receipts and disbursements of the charity and in 1828 the whole amount is annually exhausted in the distributions of bread and coal.

In 1833 Rev Edmund Wallace had a notice displayed in the Church which explained about the 2 charities of the parish, the 1st being the Poor Close and it said "The poor have two shillings worth of bread, every Sunday and a supply of coals in the winder, from the rent of the two acres of Poors Land, in the parish of Laneham" and the 2nd charity being the Gladwin's Homestead "ten shillings is paid out in both bread and money to the poor from the rent of the gardens at the east end of the churchyard left by Rev Edmund Wallas the vicar of Laneham" this is the allotments next to the church.

The Charity Commission wrote to the Poor Close trustees in 1989 to say that traditionally the funds have been applied for distribution of bread and coal, but the trusts may now be interpreted as relief of poverty in the area.

The Charity Commission newsletter of 1989 contained the following advice:

"Loaves at Christmas, was your charity limited to giving of loaves of bread to to the poor at Christmas, or dividing income among 12 poor widows of the parish, provision of Coal? if so, you may well ask whether the charity is worth preserving, the answer is yes.

The Trustees cannot simply ignore the purposes set out by the document which governed the charity and decide to use the income in some other way in which they think worthwhile. However, they may be able to alter the objects of their charity using procedures set out by the Charities Act. To alter an object which requires bread for the poor to assist people who are in conditions of need, hardship, distress in either gifts of kind or grants of money. A lot depends on the amount of income the trustees have at their disposal, but the most good can be achieved by selecting only a few beneficiaries each year who the trustees see as in need and giving them assistance. Paying for or even contributing towards the cost of a TV license for a needy person who is housebound, assisting with the fuel bills of an elderly poor person or helping a family who have fallen on hard times to meed some particular need are just a few examples of what they may be able to do.

But how do you identify 'the poor' Its easy to think by Victorian standards but this is wrong. The poor no longer live in squalor in some broken down hovel to qualify as being poor. Today they 'the poor' are simply those in the community who are unable to enjoy the same quality of life as the rest of the community.

For example if a family cannot afford to pay the modest charge for their child to attend a playgroup, they are poor, the school child who cannot afford to go on a school trip aboard, is he poor and deserving? most certainly, despite the support might be needed for what some would think is luxury, if all the peer group participate the one who cannot is deprived.

The identification of the poor can be difficult, and may charities, quite wrongly, simply disperse their money among all the old age pensioners. Trustees have an obligation to search out the poor,, to think deeply about who 'are the poor' and ensure support is provided discretely and with dignity."

Gladwin's Homestead Charity (Charity of Reverend Edmund Wallas) - Extract of the Will of Edmund Wallas died 10Dec1841 "I give and devise unto the Vicar of Laneham, a parcel of land called Gladwins Homestead adjoining the churchyard, every heard on the 15th day of December the sum of 10 shillings to be distributed by the churchwardens in bread one half on Christmas Day and on the other half on Sunday forever to such poor persons who attend church".

Following the Local Govt Act 1894 the splitting of the Vestry into Parochial Church Councils and civil Parish Councils meant the charities passed to trustees to run who are nominated by the Parish Council.

In 1971 the Charity Commission wrote to the Parish Council to clarify the position of the Poor Close Charity & Gladwins Homestead Charity - "both these charities are clearly within the definition of a parochial charity in Section 45 of the Charities Act 1960, as a result the parish council as the right to appoint trustees in place of each Overseer of the Poor and Churchwarden who were previously (to 1894) entitled to be trustees. The audited accounts of all parochial charities must be sent to the Chairman of the Parish Council who must lay them before the May Annual Parish Meeting. The rent of the allotments adjoining the church was collected by Rev T Gibson in 1971 who wrote to the Parish Council to advise that 10 shillings now converted to 50p since decimalization was paid out to the Poor of Laneham. Gladwin's Homestead was registered as a charity on 20 March 1972 with Charity Number 501471 by the name of Charity of Reverend Edmund Wallas, however, this has been de-registered at the Charity Commission as 'does not operate' . The allotments still exist and are rented out to the present day.


The charity's income is from land rent - Please visit the Charity Commission Website for further financial information here

Internal Audit Report

No Internal Auditors Report on file - The internal audit of the charity will be conducted by the charity's internal auditor and the report held by the charity itself


No insurance Certificate on file at the Parish Council, the Charity Insurance will be held by the charity itself

Our Trustees

A list of the Trustees of our Charity

GPDR - General Data Protection Regulations

It is the intention of Poor Close Charity to publish as much information as we can online. However, some older items are only available in print.

Residents should also be aware that the Charity is entitled to withhold certain information, but the Charity will only do this if the information is considered to be confidential.

The Poor Close Charity is not currently registered with the ICO Information Commissioners Office as a Data Processor. Our Registration number is . Follow this link for full details about the Freedom of Information Act

Agendas & Minutes

The minute book is held with the Chairman of the Charity.

PLEASE NOTE All Charity minutes published are classed as draft until approved at the the following charity Meeting.