Girton Town Charity


The first mention of GTC is in The Victoria County History which can be traced back to a bequest in 1521 by William Collyn. Arrangements for the poor of Girton from the early times were met by the income from land bequested or bought for the purposes and the help was distributed through the Parish Church.

By the start of the nineteenth century there were almshouses in Girton, although on a different site from today’s homes. These early almshouses, which are reported to be tenements within a single parish house, were at Camping Close in Cambridge Road, between the Old Rectory (now the Cambridge Academy of English) and St Andrew's Church. This site was acquired in 1848 by Miss Anna Maria Cotton, the founder of the Village school, now the Cotton Hall.

Charitable status
The Charity Lands were vested with the Official Custodian of Charities by a scheme dated 14th November 1881 and the Church and Town Charities were separated 30 years later; the first Charitable Scheme for the Town Charity dates from 21st June 1910. Amendments to the scheme governing the Charity were made on 15th February 1938, 3rd January 1966, 9th May 1985 and 8th March 1996.

Our minute books for 1882-1958 are held in the Cambridgeshire County Record Office. The first of the current almshouses were built in the 1930s on land owned by the Charity in the High Street and four more in Michael's Close were added in the 1960s.

GTC's primary assets until very recently were pieces of land in and around Girton which were used to provide income for charitable works - in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries this was often in the form of coal distributions to the poor. These land holdings currently include half of the Town Field which is in the centre of the Village and bounded by Hicks Lane and Cambridge Road. The other part of the Town Field is owned by St Andrew's Church but the whole is managed by Girton Allotment Society on behalf of the two Charities.

Some of this land has always been let to farmers but in 2003 GTC sold a large area at Wellbrook Way for development.

This sale enabled us to make exciting changes to what the Charity does, bringing in a substantial sum of money which is invested to give funds to use for the benefit of Girton residents.

Making improvements
One of the first things we did was to have a major programme of repair at our almshouses and, in parallel with this, we introduced the Hospital Taxi Scheme, the Educational Grant Scheme and later the Short-Term Care Grant.

Over the last few years we have developed our Schemes and Grants and made awards to individuals, Girton Glebe School, the Parish Council and Village clubs and organisations, as well as to charities from outside the Village so that they can provide help specifically in Girton.

We have built new almshouses at Centenary Court in a £1 million building project to provide seven traditionally-built three bedroom homes, used by Village residents. Suffolk Terrace added a terrace of three family cottages on the site of the old WI Hall on the High Street and 2023 saw the completion of a further 15 homes at Dovehouse Court providing permanent independent living accommodation for over 55's. 

Enhancing our community
During 2014, we commissioned our first community project called Passing Through and Settling which was run by Artist-in-Residence Holly Rumble and involved over 500 Village residents over its six-month duration. 

As part of our continuing commitment to enhance public space in the Village, we created a Sensory Garden on the corner of Wellbrook Way and commissioned Sculpture Railings created by artist Matthew Lane Sanderson, to provide a new boundary between St Andrew’s Church and the car park. We have also replaced the bus shelter with a structure in keeping with the Grade II Star of St Andrew’s Church and the environmental improvements made by the Sculpture Railings.

Three large building projects – repairs and updating to the Baptist Church, St Andrew's Parish Church and the Cotton Hall – were also initiated in recent years. The new William Collyn Community Centre, named after the person who started the Charity with a bequest in 1521, provides facilities for use by Village residents, groups and organisations.