See other articles on this page for:
- A History of the Waltham St Lawrence Charities
- Ralph Newbery
- The Bell Inn
- Waltham St Lawrence Charities - Chairman’s Report for 2014
The Trustees would like to thank Mrs Margaret Railton from whose publication ‘Ralph Newbery & The Bell Inn’ much of this information has been drawn.
The Waltham St Lawrence Charities in their present form are governed by Schemes of the Charity Commission dated 13 March 2009 and 12 April 2011. Prior to this revision, there were three distinct charities, each with its own funds and with different charitable purposes: the Foot, Knight and Newbery Relief in Need Charity, the Wandesford and How Educational Charity, and the Beale and Braybrooke Relief in Sickness Charity (previously the Dispensary Trust).
These charities had in turn evolved from other earlier charities established in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and were named after the original benefactors. The earliest and most significant of these benefactors was Ralph Newbery, under the terms of whose will his son, Francis, in 1608 put the house which is now the Bell Inn into trust for the poor of the parish.
Now all the charities have been amalgamated into a single charity and the previously limited charitable purposes have been expanded to allow the Trustees of the Charities to promote any charitable purpose in the parish.
When Ralph Newbery made his will in 1603, he could not have foreseen that his bequest to the small Berkshire parish of Waltham St Lawrence would become so significant in the centuries to come.
He was born around 1535 in Waltham St Lawrence where members of his family had lived for many years. He grew up in the reign of Henry VIII, though Elizabeth I was on the throne when he left his native village to work in London. He was about 25 when he took over the book outlet of a late printer in Fleet Street and his printing and publishing business flourished – he became printer to Elizabeth I and published many important books (perhaps akin to today’s .com millionaires).
Built about 1400 in the style of a Wealden house with a central recessed hall open to the roof and two-storied rooms on either side, the upper rooms jettied to the front – all built under a single roof.
A ceiling was inserted above the hall about 1600 and a chimney stack built for fireplaces in both hall and the new room above. Later another stack was built in the parlour for fireplaces in that room and the room above.
The property remained a house for some 300 years until the first mention of its change of use to an inn in 1723 when leased to one John Cumber, victualler. More recently, from 2004, brothers Iain & Scott Ganson have continued to develop trade and the pub has become renowned for its range of ever-changing real ales, excellent fare and convivial atmosphere.
2014 was a record year for the Waltham St Lawrence Charities in which we made grants, all to residents in the parish or to organisations that benefit the parish, totalling £33,500. I believe that is the largest amount ever paid out in a year by the Charities. It was also paid out against a background where our reserves actually grew during the year, thanks mainly to an increase in the value of our stock market investments.