In 1899 Arthur Anson and his three sisters, Alice, Lucy and Anne moved into what was then called Marcham Park (and more recently called Denman College) and quickly took a very active interest in supporting the local community. Within four years they paid for eight cottages to be built on North Street and three on Packhorse Lane to house local residents at rents significantly below prevailing market rates. At the same time they paid for the Marcham Church Institute to be built on North Street which, as well as serving as a village hall, had a reading room, a furnace and a bath house at the rear for use by the whole community.
Following Arthur Henry Anson’s death in 1913, these properties, the house next to the Institute called “The Lindens”, land adjoining what is now the A415 and what became known as the Anson Field (which was used for cricket if the cows could be persuaded to stay off the pitch) were brought together by Lucy Frederica Anson and Anne Anson into a trust that was established on 7th August 1913 and administered by The Oxford Diocesan Trustees. This trust was later established as a charity under the name The Arthur Anson Trust on 23rd November 1934 in accordance with the wishes of Lucy Frederica Anson (the last surviving sister) in her will. It was formally registered with the Charity Commission by two of its trustees, George Henry Anson and Henry Frederick Erskine Tufnell, on 25th February 1936 and at the time it was endowed with not only the properties mentioned above but also £333. 4s. (roughly equivalent to £18,000 in 2020).
This tremendous generosity from the Anson family to the parish of Marcham has survived two world wars, numerous recessions and, more recently, a global pandemic. However, along the way, the journey has not always been smooth and in part this was due to the fact that their legacy was heavily weighted towards property assets that were unable to generate enough income to fund their maintenance and modernisation. As a consequence, throughout the second half of the 20th century the Trust steadily sold off its residential properties to look after the remaining properties and made very few grants in support of its wider charitable objectives.
By the 1990s the Trustees had realised that without a radical transformation of the Trust’s assets there was a very real possibility that not only would the Trust fail to exist but, more importantly, that Marcham would potentially lose both the Institute and Anson Field.
On 11th June 2004 the Trustees established The Arthur Anson Memorial Trust Limited as a registered charity and the sole trustee of The Arthur Anson Trust. All the assets of The Arthur Anson Trust were transferred to this new charitable body, which is commonly known as the “Anson Trust”, with the aim of facilitating the reorganisation and revitalisation of the Anson Trust’s assets and operations. With insufficient funds to renovate and modernise the Institute, in 2005 the Anson Trust took the painful decision to shut the Institute which meant that, apart from the Marcham Ex-Servicemen’s Club (which continued to lease the small hall until the lease was terminated by the Trust in 2015), Marcham Pre-School had to relocate to a portacabin on the Anson Field that was kindly donated by the Cumber family (before the Pre-School subsequently relocated to Marcham Primary School) and non-denominational community events migrated to the small community building previously built by the Marcham Sports, Scouts & Social Club on the Anson Field.
Many schemes to reinvigorate the Anson Trust were considered by the Trustees and a number of proposals were presented to the local community but it was not until 2015, when we teamed up with a regional developer called Thomas Homes, that concrete and realisable proposals were finally enacted. Even then it took until January 2019 before the first spade was put in the ground on the Anson Field.
However progress thereafter was very rapid and by December 2019 we took possession of a brand new nursery building and had leased it to a locally owned nursery and pre-school provider. And on 19th June 2020, after a contribution equating to over £1.4m from the Anson Trust, we were delighted to see the keys of the new Marcham Centre handed to representatives of Marcham Parish Council (to whom the building, accompanying MUGA (multi-use games area), car park and the land they sit on was gifted). At the same time we leased the remainder of the Anson Field to Marcham Parish Council for 99 years.
This represented a watershed moment for the Anson Trust as, for the first time since the Second World War, we found ourselves in a position where we could actively support all our charitable objectives instead of devoting all our energies and resources to maintaining and running our assets. Indeed, it is our hope that for years and decades to come the Anson Trust will be able to provide a wide range of grants, both large and small, to organisations that support and enrich the lives of the residents of the parish of Marcham.
For information about our current Grant policy and our Grant application process please go to our Grant Giving page.