John Wright’s Charity

John Wright’s Charity was set up in Stanhoe at the beginning of the 19th century “for putting to school and educating in a suitable manner all such poor children belonging to, and living in, the beneficial area”. The Charity later played an important part in the setting up of Stanhoe School.

Although it has changed with the times, the Charity continues to this day. It has a modest income from the rental of a field, formerly the property of the Charity itself and now owned by the Charity Commission. A team of dedicated trustees distribute this money to the benefit of all the young people of Stanhoe.

The Charity is registered with the Charity Commission.

Rosemary Brown, Secretary to John Wright’s Charity, compiled this short historical account from handwritten notes in minutes notebooks and elsewhere.

History of John Wright’s Charity

1802 John Wright of Ivy Farm in his will leaves “a parcel of land” in Stanhoe, the income from which is to be used to educate the children of the village.

1805 Three acres of land are let by the charity’s five Trustees (inhabitants of Stanhoe, nominated by the Rector and Churchwardens). Using the income generated, twelve children attend two Dame Schools in Stanhoe, where they learn reading, and needlework for the girls.

1853 In accordance with the will of John Wright, land for a permanent school building is conveyed under a Deed of Trust to the Rector and Churchwardens.

1854 Stanhoe School opens. Funding comes from John Wright’s Charity, public subscription, and the National Society for Promoting Religious Education, whose aim is to set up a church school in every parish.

1861 The original charity land is exchanged for a better field in what is now Station Road. This was previously part of the glebe (land belonging to the Rector as part of the church benefice).

In this year there were 95 scholars at the school.

Hand-written legal document

“Adverting to your communication of the 10th inst.”: this Charity Commission document of 1884 relates – in tedious legal language – to the appointment of new Trustees for Wright’s Charity

1884 The Charity Commission officially instructs the Rector and Churchwardens as the Administrators or Trustees of Wright’s Charity.

1906 The Minute Book is started, giving the earliest record of Wright’s Charity meetings.

The Deed from the Board of Education decrees that the Trustees should comprise: The Rector (ex officio); one County Council appointee and one Parish Council appointee, both on a three- year tenure; and two Co-operative Trustees, each on a five-year tenure.

The new Trustees are: Rev. Black (Rector), Mr H C Hollway-Calthrop, Mr E S Belton, Mr T Calver, Mr H Seymour, Mr G Mitchley. These were men of stature; many were landowners.

They decide to allocate the charity’s income as:

3 prizes of 10 shillings each for attendance in Standard 5 upwards

4 prizes of 5 shillings each for attendance in Standards 2, 3 and 4

In the event of a tie, the winner of the attendance prize was the child of “greatest diligence”.

1 prize of 10 shillings for good conduct in Standard 5

1 prize of 10 shillings for good conduct in Standards 2, 3 and 4

The good conduct prizes were awarded as Post Office Savings, or paid into the School Savings Bank, or, in consultation with the parents, spent by the Trustees on clothing credit.

1910 It is noted that the parents of prize-winners have been asked what type of award they would prefer, and with one exception, they have requested clothes, underclothes and books (the clothing was supplied through Messrs Bennett and Allen).

In this year the number of children whose attendance records makes them eligible for awards exceeds the sum available from the rent of the field. It is suggested that the awards be given out at the School Prize Giving or the Flower Show, and the names of the winners published in the Deanery Magazine.

1913 The idea that the most diligent pupil might be chosen by fellow pupils is floated – and rejected.

1915 The Trustees say that too much emphasis is being put on attendance and not enough on proficiency.

1921 A pupil from the neighbouring parish of Barwick is eligible for an award. The Board of Education is consulted, and refuses to allow the award. One of the Trustees compensates the pupil’s mother from his own pocket.

1925 The rent from the field is £3 2s 0d, and the Rector points out that from this should be deducted a tithe (also referred to as “Queen Anne’s Bounty”). Since the awards total £3 10s. 0d, there is not enough money to pay them. Of late, the Rector had paid the difference himself.

To improve the income it is decided to rent out the shooting rights on the land, as well as the land itself.

1932 Concern is expressed that the awards are being allocated for clothing, mostly through Chestney’s and Roy’s shops in the village. This year, the awards are given as National Savings Bank payments instead. The tenant of the field asks for a reduction in rent because of the hard times.

1933 A review of finances and awards:

Field rent £4 10s 0d

Shooting rights £1 0s 0d

Total £5 10s 0d

Less tithe £1 6s 10d

Grand total £4 3s 2d

The new Rector (Rev. Bannister) notes that the conditions of the deeds had not always been adhered to. Not more than £1 0s. 0d. should be awarded, and not less than 5s per pupil – yet at times 2s 6d had been given, when an award was shared between children.

He reports that the fences on the field are good (the Trustees were responsible for these), but that a fund needs to be set up to keep them in repair.

1934 It is decided that the Rector should give out the awards at a special parents’ afternoon at the school, to take place in December.

1939 Awards are still being given for good attendance – this year for over 90 percent attendance.

1942 Discussion on whether four evacuee children with good attendance records might have an award. Since their parents do not live in the village, the answer is “no”.

1943 The Rector overrides the Trustees and gives prize money from “the School Fund” to two evacuees, expecting it to be reimbursed at a later date. (This was agreed in 1944.)

1949 An “infant” receives an award (for attendance) for the first time. Before this time, pupils had to have been at the school for three years before they could receive an award, and only older pupils were eligible.

1950 It is agreed that “proficiency, diligence and good conduct” should equal good attendance.

1954 The Smithdon School opens in Hunstanton, and pupils transfer there at the age of 11. Awards are still given to children of all ages living in the village.

1961 It is agreed to calculate attendances over the school academic year, rather than the calendar year.

1962 The Trustees give £8 to the Headmaster to buy books to distribute to the children at school.

1964 The Headmaster buys books and distributes them to every pupil who has attended the school for two years.

1967 Books to the value of 10s are given to each child who had been at the school for two years. Children leaving school or moving on to secondary schools are awarded £2 each.

1968 “Give vouchers” [sic] or book tokens are substituted for books.

1969 Six “leavers” are awarded £2 each. It is decided to give a “good effort” prize in the Infant and Junior Schools.

1973 Every child who has reached the age of eight receives a 50p (10s) book token, and “leavers” get a cheque for £3. The rent for the field is £30.40.

1979 Every child permanently at the school is given a £2.50 book token, and leavers each receive £10 in cash. The rent for the field is £105.44.

Legal map showing the Charity Field

Legal map of 1980 showing the Charity Field on Station Road, to the north of the village, where it has been since 1861

1981 The school has now closed, and the awards are reviewed:

  • Book tokens will be given to all children living in the village who attend a maintained primary school.
  • Money gifts will be given to all children moving on to secondary school.
  • A fund is to be built up to provide grants, on application by young people from the village, for books or equipment to be used in further education. Applications will be allowed for three years after a child leaves school.

The rent for the field is £200. The Board of Education (Education Committee) says that Wright’s Charity can continue independently, and no longer needs to consult the Board over changes.

1989 Children must now have lived in Stanhoe for a year before they are eligible for awards. (This reflects greater social mobility and the trend away from long-term residence in the village.) The rent for the field is £220.

1991 The Rev. Tomlinson retires after many years as a Trustee. This is the last year that a Rector is a Trustee.

1993 Following concerns that few children actually come to receive their awards at the traditional ceremony in the Village Hall, the Trustees decide on a new system based on applications. Mr Barber (the Postmaster and a Trustee) delivers a letter of invitation to each household with a child of primary school age, asking people to apply for awards. Sixteen £6 book tokens and five £30 Leavers’ Awards are presented.

1996 There is dissatisfaction with the new applications system: by not bothering to apply, negligent parents may be depriving their children of awards. As a result, eligible children now receive individual invitations to the awards ceremony. Twelve £8 tokens and two £40 Leavers Awards are given. Instead of book tokens the Trustees choose tokens from the stationer WH Smith, perhaps thinking that these are more appropriate in the computer age.

2000 Despite receiving invitations, some children still do not turn up to receive their awards.

2001 The Trustees – who by now are ladies whose children attended the Village School before it closed in 1981 – are finding it difficult to compile a list of village children to invite for awards. A notice in the village newsletter produces only five responses. In tune with the ethos of the Charity, the Trustees also decide to offer a grant of £200 to Stanhoe’s Youth Club.

2005 The Charity Field is voluntarily registered with the Land Registry, under current government policy, and the Charity Commission becomes its official owner.

2006 There are now only six village children of primary school age; each is awarded a £15 book token. £50 “Leavers’ Grants” and “Discretionary Grants” (for educational courses at How Hill) are available, as are book grants for students in further education. The awards are given at a ceremony in the Village Hall. The rent for the field is now £260.


The 2012 Wright’s Charity award ceremony