Bramerton Helping Hand

Bramerton Helping Hand is a small community-based charity established to help residents in the village encountering immediate financial hardship.

In the past it has made small grants to help residents buy heating oil, coal, have boilers and other essential domestic appliances repaired and deal with a host of other domestic emergencies. We are especially concerned to help those in need in the winter months when temperatures have dropped.

We also have a wheelchair available at no cost for use by those without means of mobility in Bramerton.

If you know of anyone who may be in need please contact Dick Meadows (dick.meadows@virgin.net) or ring on 01508 538771. All approaches are dealt with in strictest confidence. They can be made personally or on behalf of someone else.

The charity, whose official name is Bramerton Relief-in-Need, was first registered with the Charity Commission in 1989 as an amalgamation of three smaller charities. The oldest one, Town Lands Charity, was established in the village in 1672 to provide ‘coals for poor people.’

Some records still survive which show that in 1895 forty five parishioners each received three hundredweight of coal. The cost of the coal was put at £1 2s per ton. By the time of the First World War coal had become so scarce that none was available and needy parishioners were given 4s. instead.

Also amalgamated into the current Trust was England’s Charity which was set up in 1895 after the death of Ernest England at the age of only 32. He left £1,000 in his will to be invested to assist ‘respectable widows’ over the age of 50 living in the village. Ernest is buried in Bramerton churchyard.

The third charity was Cock’s Charity which dates back to 1789 and has perhaps the most interesting history. It was set up by Roger Cock from Bramerton and his brother John from the neighbouring village of Hellington. According to the records it was established ‘on the 14th of May in the 29th year of the reign of our Sovereign George the Third.’  

They put up £200, an enormous sum at the time. They also set what was called an annual rent charge of £7.10s on ten acres of land at Hellington. The money was used to pay for a ‘poor boy’ to be apprenticed for up to five years at a cost of £5. On one occasion 14 year old Leonard Forder was apprenticed as a grocer.

When there was no suitable apprentice the money was used to help ‘deserving and necessitous persons’ with coal, clothing, medicines and most of all, bread. The Bramerton Account Book shows that in 1859 120 loaves were bought from a local village baker for £1. In 1916 the same amount bought 52 loaves.

The bread was distributed on Christmas Day from the porch of St. Peter’s Church. That all stopped in 1942 when the ‘deserving persons’ got rowdy, shorthand probably for drunk, and disturbed the Christmas Day service. After that the bread was handed out at the old school house.

John Cock died in 1796 and a memorial inscription on the west wall of the Church of St. John the Baptist at Hellington suggests a man of great modesty:

“No epitaph need make the just man famed

The good are praised when they are only named.”

Roger Cock had died the previous year aged 75 and is buried in the churchyard of St. Peter’s. Here the gravestones tell a tragic story. His wife Rebecca had died 20 years earlier aged only 40. But there was worse to come. Within a ten month period in 1787 their three daughters and a son, aged between 13 and 21, all perished, presumably carried away by an epidemic. All lie in the churchyard.

By this time Roger had remarried. His widow Suzanna died in 1801 at the age of 82. Poignantly perhaps, she lies some distance from the rest of the family.

But there is a happier postscript. Today the rent from two of the fields left by the Cock brothers still provides an income for the current Bramerton Helping Hand charity to continue to offer support for those facing hard times.