“One of the healthiest way to gamble
is with a garden spade
and a packet of seeds”
Litcham Common Garden Allotments have a long and interesting history, which is recorded by Dr Puddy (1953) in his book ‘A Story of a Mid-Norfolk Village’. Dr. Puddy describes the Lands gifted to the Parish of Litcham and it proves an interesting journey with records of allotments as far back as the 1700’s.
The seven Litcham Charities are recorded as follows:
- Allees’s Charity 1629
- Dame Mary Wodehouse’s Charity – Sir Thomas Wodehouse granted by deed-poll of Kimberly by deed poll 16th June 1634
- Matthew Hallcots Bread Dole – 1674
- John Halcotts Almshouses – 1677
- Matthew Willmont’s – 1709 Charity (The Unknown Donors Charity) 31 garden plots now 6 acres on Tittleshall Rd let as arable land
- Glovers Charity 1741
- John Copeman Lound Charity.
These 7 charities were amalgamated into one Charity, The Litcham Relief in Need Charity, in 1993 by the Charity Commission.
For many years it is well documented in Litcham Parish Records that the Allotments were managed by the Litcham Garden Trust who collected rents, let allotments and distributed ‘dole’, small amounts of cash to villagers just before Christmas each year. A representative presented an financial report to Litcham Parish Council each year.
Prior to 1894 Matthew Willmont’s 31 gardens were found insufficient for the needs of Litcham villagers. As a result Mr Francis, one of the trustees of the poor was allowed by the Lord of the Manor to enclose 2 or 3 acres of the South Common for allotment gardens for the poor. Rent was paid into the Matthew Willmont’s Charity, also know as the Unknown Donor’s Charity. (Puddy: 1957).
Parish Councils were formed in 1884. It was noted that “There was some trouble” which appears to have arisen over the letting of allotments. The Local Government Act of 1894, Section 14(1), states that “Where trustees hold any property for the purpose of a public recreation ground ….or allotments, under Inclosure Award or otherwise, for the benefits of the inhabitants of a rural parish…except for an ecclesiastical charity, they may, with the approval of Charity Commissioners, transfer the property to the Parish Councils, or persons appointed by that Parish Council if they accept the transfer…shall hold the property on the trusts and subject to the conditions on which the trustees held the same”.
A Parish Meeting voted for Parish Council to take on the management role of the gardens but the Rector protested and wrote to the Charity Commissioners (Puddy: 1957,p109). So it was that unlike other villages Litcham found its allotments managed by a charity rather than the Parish Council.
Today the Allotments are managed by the Litcham Relief in Need Charity.
If you would like an Allotment please get in touch with:
Mrs Liz Christie
39 Church Street, Litcham, PE32 2NS
Telephone 01328 701765