Godolphin Edwards Relief in Need Charity

The Godolphin Edwards Relief in Need charity is a local charity which aims to help people in the parishes of Frodesley, Acton Burnell, Pitchford and Ruckley and Langley. If you or someone you know within our group of parishes is in financial need you can apply to the trustees for help. The charity is able to provide grants of money, or pay for items, services or facilities in order to help reduce the need, hardship or distress of people within the parish. They can provide grants to individuals or organisations.

Apply in writing to the secretary to the trustees:
Michael McElhenney,
Arbre House,
Acton Burnell,
SY5 7HR.

History of the charity

Godolphin Edwards's father, Samuel Edwards, was born in 1668 and became a government official at the Exchequer. In 1699 he married Rebecca Godolphin. In 1722 Samuel was elected to parliament as a Whig politician for Much Wenlock. He retained his seat in 1734 and served till 1738. Early in the century Samuel purchased Frodesley Manor as well as some land on Wenlock Edge. As Lord of the Manor he owned most of the parish and the farmers were his tenants. Samuel died in 1738 at the age of 70 and Godolphin, who had been Mayor of Shrewsbury in 1730, inherited the estate. The hall close to the church had been built in 1594 for Edward Scriven whose family had owned the manor for several hundred years. The Scrivens had created a walled deer park to the south of Lodge Hill, surrounding it with a stone wall, parts of which still exist. To this day a farm in the area is called Park Farm and in the 1840s a couple of fields were known as Big and Little Deer Leasow. A member of the Scriven family who was an M.P. wrote in his diary about often having had venison from Frodesley delivered to Westminster. Frodesley Lodge was built as a hunting lodge by the Scriven family in 1590 and the top of the tower would have given the ladies watching a deer hunt a great view over the park below. It would appear that the hall was in a bad state of repair when Godolphin inherited the estate and he chose to live in the lodge and had it extended by having a new wing built on the western side in 1750. Walls were also built on Lodge Hill, presumably to create the new deer park, although the park only existed in the legal sense for 20 years. This activity must have created much needed employment for the local population.

Godolphin was concerned about the poor and especially those in squatter cottages, who would have had hardly any garden. The remains of these cottages cuold still be seen on the road between Frodesley and Condover Industrial estate until recently. Below what was the Swan Pub, now Swan House, was a long narrow strip of land known as the Butts. In 1750 the Butts was divided on the instructions of Godolphin into a number of allotments for the poor to grow their vegetables on. On Godolphin`s death his only daughter Elizabeth inherited the estate but had to sell it to defray her grandfather Samuel`s debts. Sir Edward Smythe bought the estate in 1784 and it became joined to the Acton Burnell estate until most was sold off in the early 1920s.

The Godolphin Edwards Relief in Need Charity Godolphin`s charity was originally set up in 1750 to administer the allotment plots on the Butts, each let for an annual peppercorn rent to the poor and administered by the Frodesley rector and his two church wardens. In the early 1800s two cottages were built on the two Butts plots nearest the Swan and let to the poor by the charity, it is not known who paid to build the cottages. By the 1970s there was less demand for the vegetable plots and the ‘two up two down’ cottages were in need of modernisation. The local authority put demolition orders on such properties to persuade owners to upgrade them. The charity lacked the necessary funds to pay for the work and the cottages were sold. The allotments were amalgamated, grassed down and are still let by the charity. Wise investment resulted in the charity having more funds than the few needy folk of Frodesley required so the reach of the charity was extended to include Acton Burnell, Pitchford and the parish of Ruckley and Langley.

What constitutes need has changed through time. In the early days of the charity it enabled the poor to have a more adequate diet when the corn laws were putting the price of a loaf of bread beyond their means. In the 19th century it enabled the old to have a roof over their heads and a better diet when there were no pensions. Until recently there was still genuine need amongst many of the retired living on basic state pensions in the parishes. Now retired people moving into our parishes often have good pensions and might feel embarrassed to receive a food hamper from the charity at Christmas, and in fact need may now not be confined to the old. Parents may be struggling to meet all the educational expectations of their children with regard to school trips, clothes or equipment. Students may be finding the cost of further education difficult to deal with. Covid may have caused financial problems for others.