(November 2021) The Family of Fred Inns and the Town Estate Charity

The Town Estate Charity of Sibford Gower and Burdrop was founded in the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth by two old ladies who left the Sibford Heath Farm to the community to provide a school master, poor relief and for other village purposes; it is one of the oldest charities in England and has survived for four hundred years through Civil War, Commonwealth, several different monarchies, the Great Plague, and two World Wars, carefully administered by a board of local feoffees or trustees; the old village names of Gilkes, Soden, Inns and Hopkins recur throughout its history.

In 1668 there was a great dispute at the time of the restoration of Charles II; in 1772 we were one of the beneficiaries of the redistribution of land under the Enclosures Act. In 1891 there was a dispute about the status of the new elementary school, as to whether this was to be a Church of England School or a non-denominational one; the Non-Conformists won, which is why the primary school to this day is simply described as ‘Endowed’.

Our set of Minute Books is complete from 1836 to the present day, and there are many documents stored in the Oxfordshire History Centre in Cowley, Oxford. Prominent in the history of the last century has been the name of Inns. The first Frederick Inns recorded in our minute books was a Trustee from 1899-1909, his son served from 1919-1939, his grandson from 1944-1979, and his great-grandson from 1979-2020.

With the departure of our own Fred Inns 122 years of service to our charity has now come to an end. During that time, as the minutes record, the Inns family has protected the records (on one occasion almost burned by the village schoolmaster’s wife), and given wise advice on the running of the Farm and the distribution of our funds. For 42 years Fred was first a Trustee and then Chairman of the Trust; he was the Trust’s representative on the school governors, the repository of all our history and the great expert on the mysterious Ram that provides a perpetual water supply to the Farm. We shall miss his wise advice and his deep knowledge of the roots of our history in the local inhabitants of the village.

Fred, thank you for all that you and your family have done for the villages, and we trust we can look forward to still being able to call on you for advice to help us in the future.

Oswyn Murray,