Town Farm Charity
To Walsham’s eastern boundary with Finningham and Rickinghall lies an area of 82 acres (or 32 perches) known as Allwood Green, which from medieval times was enjoyed as common land by tenants who held rights to graze their animals there. An 1818 Act of Parliament enclosed Allwood Green putting the land into trust (the Town Farm Trust ) as a farm for Walsham le Willows. This trust was the eventually morphed into the Town Farm Charity (Registered Charity Number 234808).
Under the Town Farm Trust the farm was divided into allotments for poor members of the parish. The rental income was to be used to “reduce the rate of relief for the poor of the village”. But this was not very successful, with tenants often in arrears and some of the land left untilled. By 1954, by which time the farm was rented one whole unit, the buildings and the un-drained land were in poor condition. The Town Farm Trust had no money at that time for improvements, so in that year the trustees formed the Town Farm Charity to sell the farm to one tenant, a Mr Arthur Clark. The capital raised from the sale amounted to just under £4,000 which was invested by the new charity to facilitate its charitable objects:
“For any public purposes for the general benefit of the inhabitants of the area of the ancient parish of Walsham le Willows which the trustees may select and for which provision cannot be made out of rates, taxes or public funds.”
From its income of about £7.000 per year, the Town Farm Charity still gives grants for the benefit of the people of Walsham but as per its charitable objects.
The Walsham Reading Rooms (built in the mid-nineteenth century by Richard Martineau’s great, great grandfather for the benefit of the people of Walsham) were sold in 1988. The proceeds were added to the Town Farm Charity’s capital funds.
Since its formation in 1954 the charity has continued to provide funding towards various village organisations for amenities to the general benefit of the people of Walsham.
From to 1991 to 2021 the charity donated over £36,000 to St Mary’s church including the Priory Room, £36,000 to the Sports Club, £31,000 to the Memorial Hall and £31,000 the Primary School and Pre-School. The funds have been used to contribute to the general upkeep of buildings which continue to be used by many people in the village across all age groups The school and pre-school received funding for facilities and improvements which could not be funded by the local authority.
Details of the Trust can be found on the Charity Commission’s website at: www.charitycommision.gov.uk
Current trustees are Paul Hubbard, Tracey Gorzelak, Howard Gilbert and Maggie Barber and the clerk is Judith Johnston who meet as the charity twice yearly.
Charities or organisations seeking a grant from the trust should contact:
Paul Hubbard at Rolfe’s the Butchers in Walsham firstname.lastname@example.org
Judith Johnstone at Cranmer Farm, Finningham Road, Walsham le Willows. email@example.com