The Congleton Inclosure Trust was first established by an Act of 1795 whereby certain local wastelands were transferred to Trustees to enclose the land and let it to local residents with the rent being used for the relief of poverty in the Town. Since 1994 it has been governed by a Charity Commission scheme and makes grants towards projects that benefit the areas of Congleton, together with the parishes of Astbury and Hulme Walfield, for the relief of poverty or sickness, the provision of support for recreational leisure or educational facilities or a charitable purpose which is helpful to residents in the area.
The system of common land allocation envisaged by the Congleton Inclosure Act of 1795 is thought to be unique. Many of the properties in the West Heath, Lower Heath and Mossley areas of Congleton are built on land which was the subject of the Act, so it was thought fit that some details should be recorded to provide explanations for the setting up of the Congleton Inclosure Trust (now a registered charity) and the achievements and benefits rendered to the Town by the Trust over the last 215 years.
Many towns of the size of Congleton included unenclosed common land which surrounded the area occupied by the townspeople but which was nevertheless regarded as part of the township. Various land owners, principally the lords of the manor, had rights over all this common land for the supply of timber, peat, stone etc and also for grazing, hunting and other purposes.
Those towns often decided to promote Acts of Parliament which permitted the people who had rights to have land allotted to them which they could enclose and regard as their own, in consideration of them giving up their rights over other parts of the common land in favour of other land owners. Congleton, however, led by the Lord of the Manor, C.W.J. Shakerley, decided that much of the land which would otherwise have been divided up between land owners would, by the terms of the Congleton Inclosure Act, be vested in Trustees who were to let the land and account for the rents in aid of the Poor’s Rate or other public expenses.
In the last 25 years over £1.25 million has been granted for projects of benefit to the community.
A copy of the hardback detailed history of the Trust written by David Daniel and Peter Boon is available at Congleton Library.
Copies are available to buy from the Congleton Town Hall Information Office,
Congleton Museum or the Congleton Chronicle Office.
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