An area of 2R 27P (2 Rods 27 Perches or Poles), managed by a body of Trustees, is to be let for the use of good husbandry and grazing only. The tenant is responsible for the upkeep of the hedges and ground.
From the recital in a feoffment, bearing the date 11th January 1710, it appears that a “little piece or quillet of land, containing by estimation half an acre, called the Poor Man’s Piece, lying in the borough of Week St. Mary, given by John Clark, was conveyed, in trust, for the use of the poor, decayed, lame, impotent and decrepid people of the same parish for ever. The profits to be taken by the collectors and overseers of the poor for the uses of the aforesaid.”
This land is let yearly and produces a rent of variable amounts which is then distributed among the poor, in small sums, by the churchwardens at Michaelmas and Christmas.
The rent in 1786 was £1 1s 0d (1 guinea); in 1835-6 was £5; in 1863-4 the income was down to £4 3s 0d and even less by the 1890s when it was down to £2 10s 0d. The present rent is paid at Lady Day and varies slightly as the land is put out to tender every three years.
The records of the charity had been kept in the Parish Council Minute Book since its inception after the Local Government Act of 1894 until it was pointed out in 1969 that it was legally out of order to do so. From that time the records were entered into a separate book and the Parish Council were advised to nominate two members as Trustees of the charity, then they could continue to receive reports pertaining to the accounts of the said charity.
It is remarkable that the income from such a piece of land should continue to be made available for the poor for nearly 300 years but it must be noted that on more than one occasion discussions were made regarding the possible sale of the land. It has been noted that such a sale, if approved by the Charity Commission, could only be sanctioned if the funds received are only used to follow the basic philosophy as set out in the original terms of the founders wishes.
The 1985 Charity Act does allow a change of direction if the charity is considered to be obsolete and in such cases the new nature of the charity must still be considered to be in the spirit of the original gift.