The St Giles Charities have long histories of providing support and relief to the poor in the parishes of St Giles and St George’s, Bloomsbury. They have their roots in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a time when the population of the historic parish of St Giles-in-the-Fields grew enormously and the ”rookeries” between St Giles church and Great Russell Street, and the area called Seven Dials, became known as among the most notorious in London for poverty and squalour. At this time, the parish of St Giles became the setting for William Hogarth’s famous engraving ‘Gin Lane’, which satirised and condemned the living conditions of the London poor.
St Giles- in- the- Fields & Bloomsbury United Charity
This Charity was formed under a Scheme granted by the Charity Commission in 2005, and consolidated four former charities – St-Giles-in-the-Fields Almshouse and Pension Charity, The Bloomsbury Dispensary for the Relief of the Sick and Poor, Thomas Leverton’s Charity, and the Dibdin Brand Charity.
- The Bloomsbury Dispensary for the Relief of the Sick Poor
This was founded in 1801 by Dr George Pinckard, who also founded the Medical Clerical and General Life Assurance Society, in Great Russell Street. It was funded by subscriptions sought from better-off residents. The Dispensary provided medical treatment for the poor of Bloomsbury, and St Giles, which was one of the poorest districts of London. During its first ten years 10,014 people were treated. It was staffed originally by an honorary physician, Dr Pinckard, and an honorary surgeon, William Blair, and ‘home visitors’.
Edward Jenner, who pioneered vaccination, was appointed Superintendent of Vaccination at the Dispensary In 1810 and an apothecary was appointed, to be replaced by a Resident Medical Officer in 1859. In 1879 George Stone, who had been secretary to the Dispensary, and was solicitor to the Medical Clerical and General Life Assurance Society left £62,000 to be divided between St George’s Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, the Brompton Hospital, and the Bloomsbury Dispensary.
In 1880 the trustees built a new Dispensary in Bloomsbury Street. The Dispensary continued to provide medical care for the poor of Bloomsbury until the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948, after which it made grants to the sick of the neighbourhood, and for nursing care. The premises of the Dispensary were destroyed by bomb damage in November 1940 and May 1941. Portraits of Dr Pinckard, William Blair, and Stephen Hough, Treasurer of the Dispensary, were painted by and presented to the Dispensary by Henry Meyer, in 1823, and a portrait of George Stone by an unknown artist was presented after his death. All these portraits now hang in the St Giles-in-the-Fields Vestry House.
- Thomas Leverton’s Charity
This was founded by Thomas Leverton, a distinguished architect, who designed the houses on the south side of Bedford Square, and the Resurrection Gate at St Giles-in-the-Fields Church. When he died in 1824 he left a reversion at the death of Mrs Leverton of £5,000 3% consols to trustees ‘the interest therof to be applied annually for the benefit of six deserving females who may have fallen from affluence into distress, a preference always being given to such as are widows, and inhabitants of the the united parishes of St Giles-in-the-Fields and St George’s Bloomsbury’. A portrait of Thomas Leverton, which his widow bequeathed to his trustees, hangs on the staircase of the south lobby of St Giles-in-the Fields Church. His memorial may be seen on the north wall of the north gallery of St Giles church.
- Dibdin Brand Charity
This was founded by Eli Josiah Brand in 1904 in memory of the late Revd Robert William Dibdin of West Street Chapel, Seven Dials, and settled on between three and six trustees, of whom the Mayor of Holborn should ex officio be one. The endowment consisted of 50 freehold properties in Rodwell Road, East Dulwich subject to 99 year leases from 1879, at ground rents totalling £200 a year.
The income was to be applied to an annuity for life of £50 to Miss Emily Dibdin, the daughter of Mr Dibdin, in the expectation that she would play an active part in dispensing the pensions to the poor provided for in the Charity;
‘Two guineas to be paid to a clergyman of the Church of England or other Protestant Christian minister for preaching a sermon in some church or chapel once a year against ‘Betting, Gambling, and inordinate love of pleasure’;
in expending not more than £15 12 shillings each Christmas on blankets, coals and other necessaries for the ‘outside poor’ not otherwise participating in this charity, and to provide a Christmas repast for about twenty five men and twenty five women of the poorest class during the Christmas or New Year season;
and that £2 10 shillings should be distributed by the Mayor of Holborn, or the Trustees in terms of two shillings and sixpence each to twenty old decrepit men and women, in memory of the late Revd Robert William Brand;
the residue of the rents and profits was to be applied to making weekly payments of between two shillings and sixpence and five shillings each to members of the indigent classes for the time being resident in the Borough of Holborn.
The trustees were also charged, under the will of Mr Brand, who died in 1914, with the maintenance of his family tomb in Kensal Green Cemetery.
St Giles-in-the-Fields and William Shelton’s Education Foundation
This Charity was formed under a Scheme granted by the Charity Commission in 2005, and consolidated two former charities William Shelton’s Education Foundation and the St Giles and Bloomsbury Education Foundaton.
- William Shelton’s Education Foundation
In 1661 William Shelton purchased a piece of land with buildings on it for £458 10s on Parker’s Lane, and in 1672 devised it to trustees, directing them ‘to pay from the rents and profits –
For twenty gowns for twenty poor old men and women of St Giles £15
The like for ten gowns for St Martin’s £7 10s. The like for five gowns for Covent Garden £ 3 15s.
To provide an able and fit schoolmaster to teach and instruct in learning, in the school and room he had appropriated for that purpose in Parker’s Lane, fifty children of the poorest sort, thirty-five whereof be of St Giles, ten of St Martin’s and five of Covent Garden, and to pay him per annum £20. To provide him a gown yearly of the value of £1.
To provide a coat yearly for each of the scholars at 6s each £15 (the aforesaid gowns and coats all to be of a green colour).
To lay in two chaldron of coals in the summer yearly, for a fire for the scholars in the winter.
To pay his heir at law £10 per annum. And the remainder or surplusage to be applied in binding out some of the scholars apprentice.’
He provided that during his life his widow should receive the rents and appoint the school master and scholars, and purchase the gowns and coats. When she died, in 1681, the trust devolved to the rector and churchwardens of St Giles.
When in 1763 the schoolmaster died, the rents were inadequate to fulfil the trust, and the school was discontinued, and the rector and churchwardens agreed to invest the rental income in 3% consols to accumulate enough money to recommence the school
In 1815 the capital had accumulated sufficiently that with the rents, £250 annual income was available, and the vestry leased premises in Lloyds Court for 61 years for £40 a year, to build a school, on a piece of ground adjoining St Giles’ Churchyard, at the cost of £1,163 10s 1d to be conducted under regulations ‘agreeable to the tenets of the Church of England, and conformable to the wishes of the testator’. Instead of a coat scholars were to be provided with a suit of clothes, ‘similar to those provided for scholars of Christ’s Hospital’, comprising coat, breeches, cap girdle, shoes, stockings and shirt.
In 1828 Shelton’s school was joined with St Giles-in-the-Fields National School, (established in 1825), the trustees of Shelton’s Charity paying for fifty boys, ‘of the poorest class’ from the children of the residents of the parishes of St Giles and St George’s. Each boy was provided with a light green coat, a pair of leather breeches, a pair of stockings, a pair of shoes, and a girdle.
The School was rebuilt as St Giles National Schools, on the corner of Endell Street in 1860, and the trustees paid an annual grant to the Schools until they closed in 1963.
- St Giles-in-the-Fields and Bloomsbury Education Foundation
This charity has its origins in the St Giles Charity School founded in 1705 and funded by voluntary subscriptions, and subsequently endowed with a house in Parker Lane, and the school building, built in Museum Street in 1795. The master and mistress of the School were to be members of the Church of England and the children were to be instructed in the principles of the Church of England. The school provided education for forty girls and eighty boys, and the trustees provided a premium for the apprenticeship of girls and boys, and oversaw the apprenticeship. The school moved from Museum Street to a new building in Little Russell Street in 1880.
In 1713 Mrs Elizabeth Saywell bequeathed three parts of her estates in St Giles parish to Dr Benjamin Carter in trust and a fourth part to the minister of St Giles to apply the rents and profits towards the education and maintenance of the poor charity girls in the parish of St Giles, for ever.
In 1727 Dr Carter granted to trustees all the lands bequeathed by Mrs Saywell (whose maiden name was Lloyd) situated in Lloyd’s Court, St Giles, to pay £35 a year to teach poor children of Wilford in Nottinghamshire, and to pay £10 a year to the trustees of St Giles’ Charity Schools for the education of poor girls of St Giles. This payment continued until at least 1898.
In 1909 Dr Carter’s Trustees divided their endowment and established Carter’s Bloomsbury Educational Foundation to which they transferred part of the property bequeathed by Mrs Saywell, 12 Flitcroft Street (formerly Little Denmark Street).
In 1923 the St Giles’ Charity School Trust and Carter’s Bloomsbury Educational foundation were brought together by a Charity Commissioners’ Scheme, and the trustees were authorised to apply a yearly sum of not more than £200 a year for the maintenance of the premises of any elementary school in the ancient parishes of St Giles-in-the-Fields and St George’s Bloomsbury in which religious education is given in accordance with the principles of the Church of England, and/or to provide religious instruction in accordance with the principles of the Church of England by means of a Sunday school for the benefit of boys and girls resident in the ancient parish. The residue of the income was to be applied for the benefit of boys and girls being members of the Church of England resident in the ancient parish, provided that two-fifths shall be applied for the benefit of boys and three-fifths for the benefit of girls
A further scheme in 1974, in addition, permitted the trustees to provide financial assistance to any charitable organisation in the ancient parishes, the objects of which were to advance the education of, or improve the conditions of life of, needy children and young people by developing their physical, mental and moral capacities through their leisure-time activities.