Establishment of Barlborough Hospital
The stages identified in the short history “What is an Almshouse?” on the previous Tab make for the recognition of just what a remarkable act was the 1752 endowment by the sisters Margaret and Mary Pole, both in terms of its magnitude and location, the latter spreading such benefits to a wider need in the country at a time when private philanthropy was experiencing decline.
Margaret and Mary were living at Park Hall, Spinkhill in the ecclesiastical Parish of Barlborough. The family members were prominent in the history and church politics of this area in the 16th Century. The Poles had estates and houses in Derbyshire dating back to the 14th century: Radbourne Hall, Heage Hall and Hopton Hall. The Pole family was clearly wealthy in comparison to many in the Parish at the time.
Originating from Wakebridge, the Pole’s ancestors were Catholic and were included on a list of recusants (people who would not attend Church of England services). So it might seem surprising that their bequest was specifically for ‘those who profess the religion of the Established Church of England’? An explanation is found on a brass tablet in St James’ church; its translation records that their mother Margaret (nee Wingfield, 1648-1744) converted from Catholicism to “the new reformed religion”. Whether this was occasioned under the influence of her second husband Arthur Turner is a line for more research. But the adoring epitaph suggests this perhaps to be the case.
In 1752 and only shortly before their deaths in 1755, Margaret and Mary set up the charity to provide accommodation and support for poor people of the parish. Through their private endowment they commissioned a new building together with additional bequests of land in Barlborough, a farm at Froggatt, and money in memory of their step-father Arthur Turner. They both died within a very few weeks of each other in 1755 and their remains were interred in the Parish Church of St. James the Greater at Barlborough.
Following its construction for the very purpose, on 11 October 1752 Margaret and Mary Pole caused to be enacted a Deed of Bargain & Sale which declared that the “mesuage or building should be used and enjoyed for ever hereafter as an hospital or almshouse for the habitation of such poor persons as are hereinafter particularly mentioned and described, and that the said piece of ground enclosed and laid to such mesuage or building as aforesaid, should be used & enjoyed for ever hereafter as a garden for such poor persons, in such parts and shares as hereinafter are mentioned and that the building erected upon or adjoining to the said piece of ground herein before last mentioned, should for ever hereafter be used and enjoyed as a little house or house of office by the said poor persons“.
It is to be noted that at this time the term ‘hospital’ was synonymous with almshouse; and equally, it is of note that the charity has no responsibility to provide other than accommodation. Historic ‘allowances’ were discontinued when the Old Age Pension and the National Health Service were first introduced. Neither health care nor personal support is provided. In compliance with the criteria set out in the 1752 Deed, residents must be able to support themselves.
The controling document published by the Charity Commission is referred to as a Scheme (ref: Scheme dated 14/11/1977 as amended 11/12/2012). It confirms the core qualifying characteristics for appointments first set down in 1752.
The deed goes on to explain that “in order to carry into execution the stated wishes (of the two sisters), in return for the payment of five shillings from each of them, the building and land is sold to Rev. Francis Bower, Samuel Yate, Gervase Gardiner, John Foljame, John Bromehead, Johnathan Bromehead and Godfrey Machon and to their heirs and assigns“. Those named here were appointed to be the very first Trustees.
The deed also stipulates the qualifying characteristics that a new Trustee must satisfy before being appointed by the existing Trustees, who have sole authority over the matter, but who must ensure that a minimum number is maintained for the good management and proper discharge of their obligations.
Margaret and Mary Pole through their 1752 Deed, and the Charity Commission through its authorised Scheme (as from time to time amended by them) oblige that “Trustees shall be Protestants and profess the religion of the Church of England; furthermore, they shall be competent persons who through residence, occupation, employment or otherwise have special knowledge of the Parish of Barlborough.“