Bendlowes Trust – History

Serjeant Bendlowes image died 1584When the wealthy Sergeant Bendlowes died in 1584, he was 68 years old, and although his family home was in Great Bardfield, his working life had been spent in and around The Inns of Court in London. He had served as a Sergeant-at-Arms, a rank that would equate today with that of a Queen’s Counsel. On his death his Will, which had been written two years previously, revealed that he had left his large estate to his family, but it also required that various charitable trusts be set up for the benefit of the poor of Great Bardfield and its surrounding parishes including Shalford.

With this bequest a pair of almshouses were built on Pound Hill, (an area of land near to The Penthouse opposite Hazeldene on the main road) for the needy of Shalford. Sadly by the end of the 2nd World War these old almshouses were in a dilapidated state and being declared unfit for habitation were sold for a mere £40. Soon after this these ancient houses were demolished and today, unfortunately, nothing remains of them but the site. The sale money from the property was invested in War Loan Stock and three Trustees, the Vicar and two others nominated by the serving Parish Council, were appointed to administer the Trust, now 1954. At this time the income from the invested Trust money provided the needy of the parish, 2 men and 2 women, with several hundredweights of coal each year to heat their homes. Subsequently in later years when cooking and heating no longer relied on coal the fuel allowance was changed to stamps for electricity.

In 1989 the Parish Council looked at scant Trust funds, which were Serjeant Bendlowes Cottage Gt Bardfieldinsufficient to provide for the needy as laid down under the Trust’s original terms. The Council organized the first of several successful annual Christmas Carol Concerts in the Village Hall, which always ended in a generous collection being made in aid of the Trust Fund. The Trustees in 1990, the Reverend Shead, Mrs Vera Smith and Mr Alex Tanner, felt that the time had come to re-look at the Trust’s role and to bring it up to date and more relevant to the time. With the Trust’s fund eventually swelled to around £2,000, the interest from this sum had to be used in some way to benefit more of the older members of the parish. A decision was taken to give a gift of an attractive arrangement of pot plants to anyone who had been ill, in hospital or bereaved during the year. Since then many men and women have been delighted to receive one of these cheering and thoughtful presents. Several years ago the Trust was given a couple of wheelchairs and a patient lifting bed hoist, and these are now available on loan if required by parishioners. These aids, stored at Hill House, Shalford are usually available if use of them is needed, telephone Mrs Angela Tanner, the Trust’s Honorary Secretary, 01371 850445 for information. Cash donations from villagers over the years have helped to maintain the present healthy bank balance of around £2,500.

In the Millennium Year, 2000, the Trust looked again at its role and realized that there was more need to cater for the social well being of retired villagers in this ever changing and hectic world. An opportunity for newcomers to meet with older residents would be ideal, and so the first Bendlowes’ Tea Party was organized.

In 2002, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Year, a lunch for the Golden Oldies was arranged and the Trust generously paid for the wine to accompany the meal and to toast Her Majesty’s health. The Bendlowes Trust, established over 400 years ago, is alive and very much looking to the needs of the not so young members of the village in the future.

[Info provided by Alex Tanner 2012]