We Love Burntwood Fund

 

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The We Love Burntwood Fund is specifically for the parish of Burntwood in the Lichfield district.  This fund originally began as the Ball & Birch Reynardson Fund.

THE HISTORY OF BALL, BIRCH & REYNARDSON

By will proved 1770 Elizabeth Ball of Castle Bromwich left £600 to build and endow a school at Fulfen, where she owned a farm.  From the income a master and mistress were to be paid to teach the elements, knitting, and sewing to poor children of Fulfen, Burntwood, Edial, Woodhouses, and Hammerwich. Books were to be bought for the children as necessary.  Miss Ball asked her cousin and heir James Birch to make up any deficiencies in her various charitable bequests.

In 1769 Miss Ball built a schoolroom and a teacher’s cottage at the junction of Coulter Lane and the later Church Road. On her death later the same year Birch began to make the stipulated charitable payments.  The school had cost £200 to build, and he therefore paid a master a stipend equal to the interest on £400.  The money for that and for Miss Ball’s other charities in and around Burntwood was drawn from the rent paid by the tenant of the farm at Fulfen.  The farm descended from Birch to his son and then to his two grandsons in succession. All of them apparently made regular payments from the rent, but none established a permanent charge on the farm to create an endowed charity.

In 1821 Major-General Thomas Birch Reynardson, the second of the grandsons, was paying £20 a year to a schoolmaster appointed by his land agent. The money was handed to the master by the tenant of the farm, who also nominated the 20 or 30 pupils.  Each child was given two years’ schooling; some stayed longer.  The boys were taught the elements, and the girls reading, sewing (by the master’s daughter), and, if their parents demanded it, writing and arithmetic. Each child paid 1s. a year towards fuel for the schoolroom.  The executors of Andrew Newton, a Lichfield philanthropist (d. 1806), had given the school £20, the interest on which (18s.) was added to the master’s stipend.

Supervision of the school seems to have been lax. By 1821 masters had taken to demanding fees of 4d. a week whenever a pupil was an only child whose parents could afford to pay. In 1809 David Moss, master at least from 1782 until his resignation in 1808, was fined and imprisoned for indecently assaulting girl pupils.  In 1792 and 1793 he and Elizabeth Moss were running a boys’ boarding school at Burntwood; whether it was a separate venture or an attempt to transform the charity school is not clear.  The master in office in 1821 was alleged to suffer from ‘certain defects of temper’ which rendered him unsuitable as a teacher and deterred parents from using the school. The Charity Commissioners urged Reynardson to establish a properly managed charity.

No formal steps were taken, but Reynardson continued to support the school. In 1833 it had 50 children attending it; 11 boys and 11 girls were taught free and the rest paid fees. At a Sunday school, added in 1820, 44 children were being taught free. The master’s income in 1834 was £40.  In the mid 1840s 50 children were attending the day school, 21 both the day and Sunday school, and 8 the Sunday school alone. There were a master and a mistress, both salaried.  Reynardson died in 1847, and in 1849 an endowed charity was finally created.

This charity continued under various remits past the closure of the school, until 2009, when due to statutory provision and state funding the endowment was no longer needed and the charity was closed.  After 2 years there appeared to be a residual balance remaining and so a collection of interested parties gathered to decide on the best way forward.

In late 2012 it was decided to pass the remaining funds to the Staffordshire Community Foundation so that a permanent endowment fund could be established.  The remit was set so that the fund could support the social and educational needs of the children & youth of Burntwood.

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Although the fund has already been established, the Staffordshire Community Foundation have contributed match funding and further donations to the fund are allowed.  If you care particularly about the area of Burntwood or Hammerwich, or wish to give back to the children and youth of the area you can help by sending a cheque or postal order made payable to Staffordshire Community Foundation and marked on the back Ball & Birch Reynardson to;

Staffordshire Community Foundation
c/o Staffordshire University
Blackheath Lane
Stafford
ST18 0AD