Serving God, Serving our Community

Idenden Charity

Thomas Idenden, or Iddynden, who was also a benefactor of the parish of Hawkhurst, by Will dated 3rd April 1566, directed that, after the death of his wife, ‘the churchwardens of the Parish of Frittenden for the time being, and four honest men of the same parish, chosen from time to time by the discretion of the parishioners, should have authority to let his messuage and land in the said parish for the best price, the profits coming of the same to be bestowed to the use of poor maiden’s marriages, to the relief of the poor householders within the said parish, and to such deeds of charity as should be thought most needful, after the discretion of the said six men, and so to endure for ever’.

The property consisted of a house and about 28 acres of land.  For many years, the property was let from year to year to the overseers of the parish.  For many years the farmhouse was used as the parish workhouse, and the inmates worked on the farm.  The house is today known as Charity Cottages.

The Workhouse at Frittenden c1835 by John Preston Neale
The Workhouse at Frittenden c1835 by John Preston Neale

Following the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, Frittenden became part of the Cranbrook Union.  As a result the Union Workhouse was erected at Hartley, Cranbrook.  The Rector, Edward Moore, who was newly arrived, was among those who advocated the use of some of the charity’s farmland as allotments.  Edward’s father had been a contributor to the Labourer’s Friend Society, of which a major objective was to promote allotments.  A key aim of the allotment movement was to enable working class labourers to feed themselves better and improve their standard of living.  As a consequence in ‘1836 July 19 at a vestry holden in the Church by public notice to take into consideration wether it is advisable to carry on the parish farm or dispose of it.  Further resolved to lett out from five to eight acres in allotments of 1 quarter of an acre to Labourers in the parish’. 

Some 7 acres were given over to allotments and these continued in use until the Feoffees (trustees) disposed of the farm in 1953 and invested the funds in Government Stock.


Idenden Accounts
Extract from accounts of The Idenden Trust showing the income on the sale proceeds of Charity Farm in 1953.

The income from investments enables an annual distribution continue to be made by the Feoffees of the Idenden Trust each year on St Thomas’ Day, December 21st.  The criteria for such payments has changed over the years.  Currently, the Feoffees (trustees) would consider applications from anyone in the parish who is in receipt of Pension Credit, a state benefit introduced in 2003.  Others facing financial hardship can apply to the Feoffees who would consider applications on a case by case basis.

The current Feoffees of the Idenden Trust are:

Colin Highroad, Phil Betts, David Hooker, John Mills, Harold Worth, Heather Cullingworth.

Further details about the history of the Idenden Trust may be found at the Kent Archive [Kent History and Library Centre – Refs P152/8/2 & P152/25/10].  These include:-

Minutes, 1821-68, and, at front of volume, the appointment of feoffees in compliance with the will of Thomas Idenden see 25/1, 1813, and, at back of volume, details of those families emigrating to the U.S.A., 1839. The minutes include: a scheme to employ labourers on the land, from 1821; applications for a physician and workhouse supplies, from 1827; a decision to raise a loan of £300 to assist the labouring poor to emigrate to America, 1827, 1832; alteration of the workhouse regulations, 1829; loan to a man emigrating to New York, 1834; renting of parish property and land as allotments, 1836; enlargement of church gallery, 1836; decision to enlarge the church gallery, 1835; list of ‘persons petitioned to America’, 1838; the raising of money for emigration purposes, including the sale of Charity farm, 1838-40; the necessity of removing the public privy, 1839; the purchase of part of the church field as a site for school accommodation, 1840-3; the raising of money for emigration, 1840-3; an endeavour to take men off the highways and employ them on the land, and the appointment of a committee for this purpose, 1843, 1849; payment of emigration expenses to Canada, 1844; sale of the remainder of Church field, 1844; the appointment of a committee to consider the propriety of assisting single men in emigrating to the Cape of Good Hope, Canada, Sidney or New Zealand, 1849; the appointment of a Health Committee under the Board of Health, 1853.


Information on this page has been kindly provided by the Frittenden Historical Society.