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Image of Sponne coat of arms
St Lawrence Church, Towcester

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Benefaction Boards

Until the early 1830s welfare support for the poor and infirm was organised at the local, parish level. It was in the 16th century, during the reign of Henry VIII and following the dissolution of the monasteries, the closing of almshouses and charity hospitals run by monks and nuns, that the parishes first became responsible for supporting their own poor. In order to do this, the parishes had to raise money by taxing the parishioners (landowners, tenant farmers and trades-people) who could afford to pay. This payment was known as the Poor Rate, and eventually became a local tax levied on those who owned or rented properties above a certain value in a parish.

The Poor Law Act of 1832 resulted in the introduction of a system of Poor Law Unions - parishes were grouped together into larger Unions each of which built its own workhouse, which was administered by a Board of Guardians.
Fortunately there were still a number of well-meaning men and women who wished to share their wealth with the less fortunate in society and the benfactor boards provide a record of these.

Image of 1755 benefactor board
Image of 1793  benefactor board
South wall of tower 1793 - List of Benefactors
Image of 1836-7 benefactor board
North wall of tower 1836-7 List of Benefactors
Image of 1989 benefactor board
North wall of tower 1989
Other bequests to the church