The Charitable People of Stoke Golding

Thomas Barton

The Charity of Thomas Barton was founded on 10th July 1400 and so celebrated its sexcentenary in millennium year.

He was a member of the Barton family of Lancaster who moved south in the 12 – 13th century. He owned houses and land in Hinckley and Stoke Golding.

He set up his Charity “on account of the many ways around the aforesaid Stoke ruined on account of default of payment.” He wanted to put right the neglected village roads. This benefited local trade and improved access to the market towns and his act of Christian faith enabled “the roads pavements and cawsys”, to be made up for one mile in each direction.

In 1992 the Trustees asked for a new charter to allow them to spend interest from investments for the general benefit of the people of Stoke Golding.

This order was granted and the most generous endowment of Thomas Barton still provides for the local community. Some of the land and property owned by the Charity has been sold but it still owns part of Blacksmith’s Yard and a very healthy portfolio of paper investments.


Stoke Golding Boys’ Club Charity

On returning to the village from the 1914-18 war, the young menfolk decided to acquire premises in which to hold religious and social activities. By public subscription a plot of land was purchased in 1923.

Two buildings were erected, one of timber and the other of zinc sheeting and a ‘Sunday Morning Adult School’ was established. This flourished for a decade or so and then unofficially became a men’s and boys club run by Harry Stoneley, a village artisan, scout leader and staunch churchman. He was known as ‘Skip’, (see below).

The conveyancing of the land vested its ownership in the names of two officials. The last, a man long resident in the village, William Elliott Quinney died in 1953, and the land passed to his widow Edith Lillian Quinney.

Not wishing to keep the land, she gave it by a Deed of Gift to four Trustees in the name of ‘Skip’s Boys Club’ in 1959, registering it with the Charity Commissioners. The fortunes of the club waxed and waned, the death of Harry Stoneley accelerating the decline.

In 1989, the Trustees obtained a new charter in the name of the “Stoke Golding Boys’ Club Charity”. The land was sold by public auction.

The funds realised were invested in stocks and shares. The Charity’s portfolio flourishes, the whole of the interest being paid annually in grants to applicants who must be male, under the age of 25 years and be a resident of Stoke Golding. Grants are given for a wide variety of needs.


Edwin Harry Stoneley: 1889 – 21st June 1966

The Stoneley family came to Stoke Golding in the late 1870s and lived at Woodyard Cottage in the centre of the village. Harry, as he came to be known, was brought up to learn his father’s trades of wheelwright, carpenter, blacksmith and coffin maker. The workshops and forge were, for many years, situated on land to the left of the Methodist Chapel on Main Street.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Harry joined the Royal Garrison Artillery and was posted to Egypt where he soon attained the rank of Sergeant Wheelwright. This position kept him out of actual combat duties. However, when the troops were hard-pressed, he promptly volunteered for front-line services ad subsequently won the Military Medal for “Bravery in the field”. It is on record that his colonel described him as “the finest soldier he had ever met”.

Harry had always been a staunch member of the Church of England but, from around this time, he gradually converted to Roman Catholicism. After the war, together with others, he obtained a grant of £21 and, combined with a village collection, built a large wooden hut and formed an Ex-servicemen’s club. Over time the other founders moved away or pursued their interests but Harry stayed on. By adding another building, he developed the facilities further to include snooker, billiards, table tennis, darts, long-alley skittles, boxing, film shows and whist drives. This became known as ’Skip’s Hut’, a regular meeting place for many of the boys and young men of the village and beyond. The buildings, which unfortunately no longer exist, were situated in High Street opposite St Margaret’s Church.

Harry still found time for even more voluntary work and, from the 1930s, he took a keen interest in scouting and became scoutmaster at Stoke Golding and Hinckley St Peter’s. Over a period of 25 years he gave an unstinting service that gained him the Scout’s Award of Merit. It was during his association with the scouts that he took to wearing shorts and acquired the soubriquet ‘Skip’. He only ever wore long trousers when serving with the Royal Observer Corps in the Second World War, or dealing with a funeral or swarm of bees.

A keen and talented sportsman, Harry played football and tennis and captained the village cricket team, during which time he built a wooden, all-weather practice wicket. Numerous cycling trips (Skip cycled everywhere) were organised for a day’s shooting on the archery range at Meriden. This involved carrying all the equipment and food on what was a near 30 mile round trip.

Along with the boys, he built a number of canoes. As an astronomer of some note, he gave them names such as ‘Orion’, ‘Mercury’ and ‘Vega’. They were regularly used on the nearby Ashby Canal. Skip would organise week-long camping trips in the area. All the equipment, including three large canvas bell tents, latrine, flag pole, cooking utensils (including his renowned ‘jip’ or stew pot) and food was loaded onto two or three heavy wooden hand carts. One of Skip’s favourite hobbies was campanology and, as a young man, he gained a reputation as one of the foremost bellringers in the country. He participated in over 500 peels, the longest of which lasted 11 hours and 36 minutes.

Church matters always interested him, and crosses and candlesticks in St Margaret’s Church are the result of some of his wonderful carvings made from the old oak bell frames. He could recite virtually all the psalms in both Latin and English with remarkable accuracy. To the rear of his house was a large orchard, containing up to eight bee hives, which every year produced many hundred weight of delicious fruits, jams and honey. A very keen gardener, he cultivated a wide variety of produce and almost became self-sufficient.

During conversations around the campfires, at the hut or up at the house, often until late in the evening, he would regale those present with tales form his earlier days. One was during the very severe winter of 1929 when, along with a few other hardy souls, he skated over a hundred miles on the canal network. The only impassable point was the 260-foot long Snarestone Tunnel, which was hung with icicles as big as a man. Skip retained his vigour and zest for life right to the end. A perfect example of this was when, in his 70s, along with a younger companion, he canoed from Marston Junction (near Bedworth) to Snarestone Tunnel in a day. Setting off a first light they arrived at their destination at around 10.30pm, the last few miles covered with the aid of a bicycle lamp tied on the front.

After Skip died in 1966 and was buried in Hinckley Road Cemetery, a group of former “Skip’s boys” and other volunteers continued to run the club and its various activities. Unfortunately, after some ten or eleven years, due the pressures of finance and practicalities, the club eventually closed. This of course, is further testament to the decades that Skip ran everything virtually single-handedly and no doubt at significant personal cost. Subsequently, the property was sold, and the proceeds were vested in the Stoke Golding Boys’ Charity, whose object is the promotion of education and the social and physical training of boys and young men in the village.

As a man, Skip embodied many of the qualities and characteristics of Lord Baden Powell and Sir Winston Churchill, of whom he was a great admirer. He was, when necessary, a kindly disciplinarian, a man with impeccable integrity, wonderfully eccentric and a true friend and mentor. He was, by common consent and with great affection, held in the highest regard by everyone who had the good fortune to know him. One can only hope in a tribute such as this to give just a glimpse into the life and times of such a remarkable man, who selflessly gave to so many.

With his passing, it was truly the end of a wonderful era.

Ian Croxall


Stoke Golding Church Of England Primary School Foundation

Known as the Baxter Trust, it was established in November 1896 under two Deeds of Trust for the education of children of the parishes of Stoke Golding, Dadlington and adjoining parishes, in accordance with Church of England teaching.

Two separate buildings, on either side of High Street, were conveyed by the Rev. William Disney and members of the Baxter family for use as schools and infants’ Sunday school.

For many years these schools served the community well, but in time, extensions were needed and the building on the east side of High Street became unsafe. New government policy transformed the school into a C of E voluntary aided school, with the Trustees contributing towards the financial responsibility of the Diocese of Leicester.

In 1992, most reluctantly, the Trustees voted by a majority to allow the Diocesan authorities to take over the Trustees’ assets, and against much local opposition a Section 2 order was applied for and granted by the Minister for Education, and with the granting of the order the two “Baxter Trusts” were thus extinguished.


The Free Grammar School Of The Foundation Of Hester Hodges At Stoke Golding

The origins of the present Church of England School in Stoke Golding go back to 12th September 1678 when Mistress Hester Hodges made an indenture with other notable residents of the village. She gave £500 and the others a further £150 for purchasing lands and buildings for erecting, founding and forever continuing a free Grammar School in Stoke Golding, and for the maintenance of a schoolmaster, in Holy Orders.

A farm, cottages and land were purchased in Earl Shilton and a school house bought. This is the Old Grammar School on Station Road, Stoke Golding.

The school moved to new premises on High Street in 1866 and the Old Grammar School was let, becoming a private High School for girls before finally being sold by the trustees in 1952.

Today the Foundation still devotes half its income to the school and the rest to other educational purposes.


Davill’s Charity

Dated 1702, Thomas Davill of Stoke granted an indenture to provide 10/- (50p now) for a sermon on mortality to be given on 11th April each year, and to provide two Bibles for the price of 7/- for two poor children of Stoke, and 12 penny loaves yearly for six poor persons, and two strong grey coats for two aged persons of Stoke and six penny loaves every Sunday morning. An account of the benefaction, amounting to £3.9s 5d, is shown in the records of 1723 but it appears to have died out shortly afterwards.


Davill’s Eight O’clock Bell Land

A traveller, believed to be Davill, found himself lost one dark and stormy night. He was guided home to Stoke by the Church bell tolling ‘curfew’. As an act of gratitude he left 10 acres of land, at Higham on the Hill, the proceeds from which were paid to the parish clerk for ringing the bell. It appears to have died out in 1782.


Mary Brotherhood

This lady lived in impoverished circumstances on High Street, Stoke Golding. In 1852, she came into an inheritance of £300, with which she built a Particular Baptist Chapel adjoining her own house. She gave the deeds of the Chapel to a board of Trustees and, when she died, she left her property to the Chapel she had founded.


The Women’s Hall  Charity

This building was erected in 1857 and stands next to 45 Station Road, Stoke Golding. Until 1905 it was the Primitive Methodist Chapel. When a new chapel was built it was sold and had various uses, including that of the Women’s Institute from whence it gets its name. It was latterly used by the village Garden Society. It was sold in 1998 by the owners, the Parish Council. Still registered as a charity, the money raised was invested by the Parish Council and is used for the general benefit of the village people.


Amias Mabell

In 1618 this wealthy parishioner left “To the towne of Stoak fforty shillings to be putt for the to procure the summe of fower shillings for a sermon to be preached yearly in the Church of Stoak on the feast day of Saint Andrew the apostle, for ever”.


From The Wills Of…


Thome Maggyt (1555): ‘To the chapel of Stoke a strike of malt’.


William Hilton (1610): ‘To the poor of Stoake Vs (5/- or 25 pence today) to be distributed amongst them by the minister of Stoake. I give towards the repairs and maintainance of the Church aforesaid Vs’.


Edward Brookesby (1626): ‘To the poore of Stoake Gouldinge fyve shillings’.


Nathaniel Brookesby (1687): ‘The sum of 20s per annum for ever, payable on 11 June yearly. For one moiety for the continuall repaire of the pavement from the street to the church yard gate, the gate and the repaires of the pavement from thence to the church porch’.


Francis Brookesby (1714): 10s (50p) ‘to the poore of Stoke, to such as attended Church regularly’.