The Finchley Charities – the Poor and the Powerful
Thursday 31 October
Our October talk was given by Roger Chapman. Roger is a Trustee of The Finchley Charities, and has undertaken research into the history of this institution. He is a member of the Finchley Society, a resident of East Finchley and active in local community issues throughout Barnet.
Today the Finchley Charities manage 172 almshouse dwellings on three sites across Finchley. Two sites (Homefield Gardens and Wilmot Close) are in East Finchley, and one is on land adjacent to St. Mary at Finchley Church in Hendon Lane. The history of the Charities can be traced back to 1488. It is a story of the powerful – Finchley notables of Church and Manor – undertaking `good deeds’ to support `the poor of Finchley Parish’. The history of the Finchley Charities is intricately woven into the historic fabric of the Parish of Finchley. Tensions between the Charity and the Parish – even though they were often the same people – ran high, especially during the Victorian era. The Finchley Charities were and still are major landowners in the area. Through the extensive archives of the Charities we can also glimpse the lives of some of the poor of the parish and hear their stories. The archive also allows us to explore social changes, such as the enclosure of Finchley Common and the coming of the railways, which changed this gentle rural parish into the suburban Finchley of today.
The meeting took place at Avenue House, located in Stephens House and Gardens, 17 East End Road, Finchley N3 3QE.