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On Thursday 21st May Eric Gander gave the group a fascinating talk about Cobham College, originally a place of learning for curates and founded by John de Cobham in 1362. After the reformation the college fell into disuse but in 1591 almshouses were founded with a legacy from Sir William Brook, the then owner of Cobham Hall. Known as The New College, applicants for residence needed to be honest, poor, needy and Godly and to have dwelt in one of the nominated parishes for the last three years. They had to be able to recite the Lord’s Prayer, The Creed, and the Ten Commandments. Most of the poor would have been illiterate and only had one week in which to learn them from the Vicar!

No “swearer, adulterer, thief, picker, or tippler” was considered and to qualify after all that they had to be either “aged and past work, lame, blind, fallen from fire or shipwreck, sick (but not contagious), or have a burden of children they could not sustain”.

Eric brought with him some of the many archive documents the college still holds including a copy of the accounts dated before the introduction of L.s.d.


Report written by Polly Chandler.

Last Revised: 26-May-2009

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