Founded in the 18th century as bequests by the Vicar of Coddenham, the Rev Balthazar Gardemau, a Huguenot refugee, and his wife Lady Catherine Gardemau (nee Bacon), the charities and their objectives have changed over the years.
There are now four charities (see below). At one time, they owned a considerable amount of land in the parish, the income from which was used for philanthropic purposes. These included the founding of a school for poor children and the provision of money and clothing to the poor. In recent years, most of the land as been sold to realise its cash value, which has then been invested to produce useful income for the charities.
A few years ago, the Trustees sold the last substantial piece of land, the Nucleus Plantation behind the new Village Hall, and land adjacent to Mary Day Close, to another local charity, the Day Foundation. (The Day Foundation has used this land to build additional homes as part of the Haysel House development, and maintains the Plantation for conservation and public recreation).
After a long and complex legal process lasting nearly 10 years, the Gardemau Trustees were able to pass the substantial proceeds of the sale of the old Village Hall to a body set up by the Parish Council to oversee the management of the new one.
The four Gardemau Charities are: The Gardemau Church Charity, the Lady Catherine Gardemau Educational Foundation, the Lady Catherine Gardemau Charity for the Poor and the Gardemau Clothing Charity. The last two are, in reality, little more than historical curiosities, with minimal assets (only £5 in the case of the clothing charity - this was a significant sum in the mid 18th century but, sadly, not today!).
The Church Charity has by far the largest endowments and, therefore, income. Its ‘scheme' (or terms of reference) allows it to use its funds for the work of the Church in Coddenham.
With the combining of Coddenham with other parishes in one expanded benefice, the charity has funded the purchase of a number of items for use by the clergy serving the benefice, eg computers, photocopiers, projectors, a mobile PA system and books. It has also paid for the redecoration of the Vicarage but does not, as a rule, fund expenditure which is properly the responsibility of the diocese or Parochial Church Council.
The Church Charity also makes small but invaluable grants to community groups such as the Mothers and Toddlers and the Youth Club.
The Trustees are mindful of the founders' original intention that the work of the charities should focus on Coddenham, but recognise that times have changed. For example, as there is no longer a school in the village, the charity has made grants to Stonham Aspal Primary School, on the basis that it is the school attended by most Coddenham children under the age of 11.
The Church Charity can also make grants to the other, less well endowed, charities and the Trustees intend to boost the funding of the Educational Foundation in this way.
For many years, the charities were chaired by the occupant of Shrubland Hall, most recently Lord de Saumarez. However, when the Hall was sold and the de Saumarez family moved to their estate in the Channel Islands, the chairmanship passed to the Vicar, the Rev Tim Hall. After several successful years, Tim was transferred to a living in Kent and, in August 2012, the longest-serving Gardemau trustee, David McDonnell, was elected as Chairman of the trusts.
In addition to the Chair, there are currently four Trustees, including the Rev Philip Payne, ex officio. There is also a Clerk to the Charities.
The sums which the Gardemau charities can disburse are relatively modest, but are a fitting tribute to the generosity of the Rev Balthazar and Lady Catherine 250 years ago. Their kindness still bears fruit today.
Applications for grants should be made in writing to:
The Chairman, David McDonnell, The Pink House, Church Road, Coddenham IP6 9PY
The Clerk, John Pelling, 3 Church Cottages, Church Road, Coddenham, IP6 9PZ