ALDBOURNE POOR'S GORSE CHARITY
Prior to 1792, income from approximately 1,000 acres of common land was used for upkeep of the highways in Aldbourne. An Act of Parliament in 1792 decreed that a piece of this land- "not exceeding 50 acres, be put in Trust to be appropriated for the purpose of raising furze or other fuel, for the use of the poor Parishioners, inhabitants of Aldbourn". (Note the spelling).
After a fire burnt down the furze, some time prior to 1829, rendering the land useless for the purpose of wood gathering and also considering the distance from the village' the land being situated close to Bluebell Wood, a public meeting in the Crown on 12th May 1829 agreed that the land should be let and, at the discretion of the Trustees, the income used to purchase fuel for the sole use of "the poor inhabitants of the village". A letter from the Charity Commission, dated January 9th 1963, confirms that the Trustees have no power to apply any of the income to any other purpose.
Until World War II it was stipulated that the land should be used only for the production of cattle. However, during the war 45 of the 50 acres were compulsory ploughed up for food production and since then the land has been allowed to be used for crops.
Today, the criteria for the receipt of a grant is that a person should be a Parishioner of Aldbourne, having resided in the parish for at least one year, and have attained the age of 65. One application per household. (No means test is applied!)
Because so few people have solid fuel heating it was decided several years ago that cash in lieu be distributed just prior to each Christmas. This year approximately 100 people received £20 each.
New applicants for December 2002 should apply in writing to Terry Gilligan, Hon Sec/ Treasurer, 9 Cook Road, Aldbourne. 540205.
Terry Gilligan, From The Dabchick, February 2002 (issue 68)
|ALDBOURNE POORS GORSE
This is a charity which awards an amount of money annually, just before Christmas, to senior citizens of Aldbourne. There are currently approximately 100 people on the register.
An Act was passed in 1805 awarding a 50 acre piece of land, which was part of Southwood Common, to the village "for the time being for ever in trust for the purpose of raising furze or other fuel for the use of the poor parishioners, inhabitants of the parish". A report produced by the Government dated 1834 allowed this land to be rented out, but the trustees should keep back a certain amount of into be kept in furze, so that "the poor can cut and carry away as much as he can manage on his back". A public enquiry held at the Crown in 1904 confirmed the conditions of the charity.
Today we rent out 45 acres of this land, the rest being kept as furze, and this furze forms part of the Aldbourne Common. We don't appear to have had a great deal of uptake on people wanting to cut and carry furze back to the village recently, but any "poor person" can apply to the Hon Sec for consideration! Apart from the war years, when the land was commandeered by the Government for food production, the land has been continuously farmed, originally being 4 individual lots, but for the last 50 years it has been rented by one farming partnership. The money raised from the rent was originally used to buy fuel for the poor of the village, but today the criteria used by the Trustees is that anyone over the age of 65 and who has resided in the village for more that one year can apply, only one award per household.
If anyone who is eligible, and not already on the register, would like to be considered please apply in writing to the Hon Sec, Terry Gilligan, 9 Cook Road, Aldbourne, prior to November this year.
Terry Gilligan, From The Dabchick, February 2004 (issue 80)