CharitiesWilliam Sponne, D.D., Archdeacon of Norfolk, and the rector of this parish in the reign of Henry VI., by will demised the Talbot Inn at Towcester, and several closes which according to a survey made in 1820, amounted to 57a. 1r. 33p. To certain trustees, for the support of the two chaplains of the chantry founded by him, in the parish church, and in which they were to perform divine offices for his soul at the altar of the Blessed Virgin in the chapel at the east end of the aisle. He also directed, that whenever any fifteenth of the liege goods of the King, granted by the commonality of England, was to be paid to the King, it should be discharged by the trustees under his will, instead of being levied on the parish; and that the surplus should be expended in the repairs of the footways of the town. The estates belonging to this charity are vested in feoffees chosen from amongst the, parishioners of Towcester, the number of whom when complete is 15. Two of the feoffees are appointed in succession every year to receive and apply the rents of the estates, and an annual meeting of the feoffees is held in Easter week for the examination of the accounts and the general administration of the trust. The annual income of the charity is applied for the purpose of the repairs of the Talbot Inn and premises, the repairs of the footways in the town of Towcester, the payment of an annual composition or sum of £10. to the trustees of the turnpike road passing through the town, and the keeping in repair the monument of the founder in Towcester church; and the surplus of the rents, after payment of the expenses of the trust, is distributed yearly by the two feoffees, among the poor of the parish.
The Grammar School. - The college or Chantry house, founded by Archdeacon Sponne, was valued at the dissolution at £19. 6s. 8d. per annum, and with a messuage belonging to it, were granted in the 4th of Edward VI. (1550), to Richard Hyebourn, and William Dalby, who sold them to the feoffees of the said Archdeacon's will, by whom they were converted into a grammar school, and schoolmaster's house, in the following year, 1552. The endowment now consists of a messuage, with a yard and garden, in Park lane, (also purchased by the feoffees), two cottages and a small garden also, in Park lane, a close of 1a. 2r. 3Op. of land, in the master's occupation, which was allotted at the inclosure in lieu of rights of common; £7. 2s. 8d. per annum payable out of the crown rents of the county, varying 4s. from the original pension of £7. 6s. 8d. to the schoolmaster or second chaplain of the chantry. Besides the above, there is other property arising from benefactions either given to the school itself, or for the education of poor children generally, which is now become annexed to the institution. The annual value of the endowment at present is £63. 9s., which after deducting the income tax and repairs of the school, leaves the nett income about £57. 10s. for which 31 children are taught free. The master is appointed by the feoffees who usually choose one qualified to teach the classics, and generally select a person in holy orders. The school is conducted as a grammar and English school for boarders and pay scholars, as well as for children educated on the foundation. The school is ably conducted by the Rev. James W. Willetts.
Almshouses. - Thomas Bickerstaffe, of London, a native of this town, erected almshouses for three poor aged women; and by will, dated 20th January, 1695, devised to the trustees of Sponne's charity a piece of ground in Towcester, and the sum of £250, to lay out in the purchase of an estate for the endowment of the same. Land was purchased in 1698, in the open field in Farthingston, in lieu of which 28a. 17p. was allotted at the inclosure, which lets for about £70 a year. The cottages were rebuilt in 1815, and the inmates received 7s per week each, and coals. There are two other almshouses for poor widows also, one of which was built in 1788, by subscription, and the other by Mr. Simon Adams prior to 1801. The funds of the whole have been augmented by the following benefactions: [see tables below]