Haslingfield United Charities

The Haslingfield United Charities – A Brief History and Our Future

Several charities were endowed in Haslingfield during the 15th, 16th and 17thcenturies (1)   and all of them were established for the education of children, to support the poor and disadvantaged of the Parish, for specific Church repairs and for winding the Church Clock.

That support for the most vulnerable members of our community, for the education of the children and for repairs to the Church have been a feature of life in Haslingfield since the late 15th century and continue to this day under the auspices of the Haslingfield United Charities.

  1. A Brief History

The predecessors on the Haslingfield United Charities can be traced back to Tudor times when in 1494 William Skelman bequeathed 20 pounds to the village “for times of great need”.

Richard Harrington, the vicar, in 1521 left a gift of 3s 4d each (17p in today’s money) to “twelve poor folk”.

There are references to a schoolmaster, probably funded by William Skelman’s charity, teaching children in the village between 1601and 1618.

In 1640, after a lengthy litigation with Dr Thomas Wendy’s estate, the village received another 20 pounds from the original Skelman’s Charity to support the poor with another £20 to be retained by the village for an emergency fund.

Dr Wendy also left a further £20 per annum for the poor from the income of the “town house” located in the middle of the village.

In 1658 a Danish acquaintance of Thomas Wendy named Simon Ertman left £400 for the maintenance of a school teacher “to teach the poor children from time to time”.

Sir Thomas Wendy died in 1674 and left a bequest of £5 per year to be administered in conjunction with the Simon Ertman Charity for repairs to the Church

By the early 19th Century there were three schools in Haslingfield, the Simon Ertman school, an infant’s preparatory for the Ertman’s school and a Sunday School supported by the Skelman’s Charity (2).

These schools merged with the National Schools Society in the late 1820’s and a new school house and classrooms were built in 1830 on land donated by the Earl de la Warr with the then Vicar William Clark donating £200 of his own money towards the cost of the new buildings.

Soon after the school records show there were 80 pupils at the school two thirds of whom were girls. Pupil numbers peaked at 130 by 1873 before declining as the coprolite mining income to the village declined in the late 19th century

On the 22nd April 1864 a scheme of the Charity Commission ordered that George John, Earl De La Warr and William Coxall and the surviving Trustees of all the aforementioned Charities (Skelman, Wendy and Ertman) be appointed as Trustees of the Charity Schools and The Clock Lands Charity as well as being Trustees of these three original charities.

During the late 19th Century the Haslingfield United Charities became very wealthy from the excavation and sale of coprolites from the Charity’s farm lands to the extent that the United Charities were able to construct a new school house and buildings in 1879 on land that the United Charities still own today.

In March 1896 the Charities were renamed the Haslingfield United Charities in a scheme authorised by the Charity Commissioners. The Local Government Act of 1894 also required the Charity Commissioners to instruct the Charities to separate the ecclesiastical Charity from the educational portfolio of Haslingfield United Charities and to establish a new Charity with part of the accrued income from the United Charities, this new charity to be called the Church Charity.

Expenditure from the Haslingfield United Charities has always been based on the net income (after defined expenditure) from endowments and property rental (we owned lands in Haslingfield and Wendy) and the income from the sale of timber, coprolite mining and capital investments.

Distribution of the Church Charity income is defined in its governing document for the “repair of the fabric….. including the Tower and Steeple thereof but exclusive of the Chancel” with any surplus going to the care of the Church Clock.

Throughout the 20th and into the 21st Century the Haslingfield United Charities have continued to support education, the Church and those in need of support in the Parish.

The School House has not been occupied by the Headteacher for many years and it has been let as a rental property with the income being used to continue our support of education in the village.

That income supports some of the peripatetic School activities and equipment that are not funded through the LEA grant. These include school trips and other activities that the school needs for the educational development of the present and future pupils.

More recently the United Charities were fortunate to be the beneficiaries of a significant legacy for the school from the estate of a village resident.

  1. The Future

Whilst all of our investments grow and continue to do so they are currently being outstripped by rising costs and current significant levels of inflation not experienced for over 40 years.

Our support extends not only to the school but can be available to support applications from other community groups and individuals such as early learning educational groups, those commencing apprenticeships or partaking in trips to enhance their educational development.

We are also able to offer some limited targeted support to the vulnerable members of our community.

That support, however large or small, is funded from the accrued income for our investments but that investment income is subject to the whims of the stock market and the multitudes of events that influence financial institutions around the world.

In order to be able to continue to support Education, the Church structure and disadvantaged members of our community The Trustees of the Haslingfield United Charities are therefore looking at ways to minimise our fixed costs.

Those options are extremely limited as the Trustees and Clerk are all unpaid roles leaving only insurance and accountancy as unavoidable annual costs.

Giving financial support to organisations that help the less fortunate is an effective way of helping disadvantaged people improve their quality of life and life chances.

Any gift or legacy we receive from the local community or further afield would make a lasting difference and you can choose to leave your gift or legacy to the place that matters most to you.

The gifts and legacies that the United Charities have received in the past have helped shape the Village of Haslingfield into the community it is today and we hope that beneficial support will continue to do so for generations to come.

If you wish to approach the Haslingfield United Charities for support please contact the Clerk to the Haslingfield United Charities at clerk@haslingfielduc.co.uk or by letter at 81 New Road, Haslingfield, Cambridge CB23 1JP.

If you feel that you would like to make a donation, gift or leave a legacy to continue the Haslingfield United Charities support for the village in the first instance please contact the Clerk whose contact details are shown above.

Alternatively anonymous donations can be made through the Charities Aid Foundation who can be contacted at

Charities Aid Foundation © 2022 | Registered Charity Number 268369
25 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4TA
10 St. Bride Street, London EC4A 4AD
Telephone: 03000 123 000      www.cafonline.org

Thank you for reading this brief history of Haslingfield United Charities.

23rd August 2022


  1. Simon Ertman’s Charity, Sir Thomas Wendy’s Charity, William Skelman’s Charity, the Charity School’s and the Clock Lands Charities
  2. In 1818 these schools each had 30 pupils on the register.

More information about this amazing Village can be found in the publication entitled “Haslingfield- An Ordinary Village?”  written by Howard Stringer and Michael Coles sponsored by Haslingfield Village Society and Haslingfield Village Fund.

Comments (1)

  • John Roadley


    Michael Coles from your history group passed me on to you.I am researching the River Rhee for our website above s it forms the parish boundary between our village and yours. There is a part where the river follows 3 sides of an approximate rectangle enclosing an area of about 1 acre. On a 1951 sales brochure for Harston Manor, this area is shown as belonging to the Manor and called ‘The Holt’. I then came across a reference elsewhere to ‘Clock Holt’ in Haslingfield. It was not shown on a map but the description seemed to refer to the same place. I understand that, historically, income from this land was used for the maintenance of the Haslingfield church clock.
    I wondered whether you could throw any light on the. Is it the same piece of land? To whom does it belong? How did it get to be that shape? Any other into?
    Many thanks


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