History of the Jonathan Feedham Charity 

An article published in Wivenhoe News – 1999 

Feedham’s Close, Feedham’s Court, Feedham’s Charity

Who, what, why ???

In the late 1600s, Jonathan Feedham lived on the Quay, in the house now calledthe Granary.  He died in 1718, leaving no wife or family.

In his will, he left the  ‘Minister and Churchwardens of the parish of Wivenho’ the sum of fifty pounds to be laid out in the purchase of some freehold or copy hold lands, the rents and profitts thereof may for ever hereafter be received and taken by the Churchwardens  and by them yearly upon New Years Day be paid and distributed amongst poor saylors and saylors widdows belonging to the said parish of Wivenhoe at the discretion of the Churchwardens for the time being.’

In 1803 the fifty pounds was used to buy three acres of land from the Lord of the Manor near the Flag Public House.  In 1863, rent from the land was six pounds a year which, a hundred years later, had risen to ten pounds a year.

This money was used to distribute as half-crown tickets for coal from Bowes, the coal merchant, or groceries from Jimmy Moore’s grocery stores.  (Jimmy Moore also happened to be a Churchwarden at the time).

In 1971, the land was sold for housing, making £41,000, twice what the agent thought it would make.  We now call this land FEEDHAM’S CLOSE.

At around this time, the Wivenhoe Urban District Council, as it then was, offered a plot of land next to Wyvern Court in Vanessa Drive, for a very reasonable price.

Seven homes were built in the shape of a U, around a courtyard, and these we call JONATHAN FEEDHAM COURT.

The JONATHAN FEEDHAM CHARITY was established under a Trust Deed dated 17 May 1974 to administer these as almshouses for the benefit of ‘persons of good character who are resident in the area of the Ancient Parish of Wivenhoe’.  Under the terms of this Deed, the five trustees, which includes the Rector of the Parish, must give priority to applicants who are or have been sailors, or are the widows of sailors.  

In 1991, the Charity Commissioners allowed the Trustees to increase the amount of money spent on relief of poverty or distress from £50 to £1,000 out of income earned on investments.  Over these last several years, the Trustees have quietly and discreetly helped a number of people with a financial difficulty. 

So, Jonathan Feedham’s gift of fifty pounds in 1718 now provides homes for seven people as well as providing charitable grants of various sums around the Parish of Wivenhoe each year.

Peter Hill, Chairman of Trustees

Note: Article based on research conducted by Olive Whaley – PH

Note:  For more information about the Jonathan Feedham Charity, see research published in A History of the County of Essex – volume X. Click here   

Click here for more information about the Jonathan Feedham Charity and the Wivenhoe Housing Trust which administers the Jonathan Feedham Charity.