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History of the Hempnall Trust

The Queen Mother opening the Mill Centre in 1979

The Queen Mother opening the Mill Centre in 1979

The story begins  in 1624 with an act of great generosity when a local landowner made a gift of land to the village. This was subsequently enlarged by further gifts and a charity scheme was set up forming the Hempnall Church and Town Estate Property Charity and three subsidiary charities – The Hempnall Town Estate Poor Charity,  the Hempnall Church Estate Charity and The Hempnall Town Estate Education Charity.

Income in the form of rents was paid to the Hempnall Church and Town Estate Property Charity and was allocated to the three subsidiary charities in the proportion of half to the Poor Charity to be used to relieve poverty and distress in the village and a quarter each to the Church to be used to preserve the fabric of Saint Margarets  Church and for the provision of services and to the Education Charity to support the village school.

Trustees, known as Feoffees, were appointed to the subsidiary charities and all acted as Trustees to the Property Charity with the Rector as Chairman. The function of the Property Charity is to manage the land and property and to distribute the income.

Extending the scope and reach of the Trust

Inside the Mill from the Eastern Daily Press, 1978Two events have enlarged the  scope of the charities and enabled activities to be greatly extended. Most significant was the sale of land by compulsory purchase to the local authority in  1974 resulting in a large capital sum which, enhanced by high interest rates in the 80s, greatly increased the money available.

The second event was the conclusion of a lease on the Mill bringing it back into the ownership of the Property Charity in 1964. Following much discussion it was agreed that the sum of money involved required a substantial long term investment in line with the charity’s purpose and for the benefit of the village, especially the older and disabled residents.  It was therefore agreed to bring the two events together and to restore the Mill as a centre for day care.

This was done in collaboration with Norfolk Social Services and the Hempnall Mill Day Care Centre was opened by the Queen Mother in January 1979. Since then the Centre provided day care and lunches for up to 30 clients of Social Services on Tuesday and Friday and for Hempnall clients on Wednesday and Thursday. Norfolk Social Services has revoked their funding support some years ago and since then the Lunch Club has catered for local residents on a Wednesday & Thursday.


The Trustees of the Poor Charity, now known as the Hempnall Trust, include the Rector, nominees of Hempnall Parish Council and co-opted members. They meet every month to consider requests for support from Hempnall residents.

The Trustees of the Church Estate Charity are the Rector and Church Wardens and they have been enabled to extensively re-order St Margarets Church to provide a vestry and toilet, a meeting room  and a very flexible layout facilitating varied forms of service, concerts and displays.

The Trustees of the Town Estate Educational Foundation include nominees of Hempnall Parish Council and the Local  Education Authority.  It provides support for Hempnall Primary School and makes grants to students and to clubs and associations in the village and is also able to support students of all ages in Further and Higher Education.

All the Charities are registered with the Charity Commission and audited accounts and a report of activities are presented annually.

Hempnall has good reason to be grateful for the generosity of  past generations, for the vision of those who have used the money wisely and for the faithful trustees who continue to administer and develop the charities.