Named after merchant tailor Nicholas Avenon who in 1599 left a six acre marsh called Withering Mead, to be administered by trustees for the benefit of West Ham’s poor. Each Sunday 24 penny loaves were handed out with any spare money being spent on an annual sermon at the parish church. By 1834 however the trust has lapse and the charity was controlled by the vicar. The land, at Middle Marsh, in Plaistow, was then rented out for £21, and loaves were distributed among inmates of alms-houses. By 1880 the charity was in the hands of the central charity board which sold one acre of £1,500, which was mostly used for develop the rest of the land for building 140 houses, which were let on leases. By 1898 the gross income was £298; the profits, after deducting the £5 4s. for bread, were used by vicar of All Saints’ for his church. This sequestering of the funds caused huge local resentment. By the new century the battle lines were drawn between the borough council, who wanted to use the increased profits towards the poor, and the church, who were using the money to pay half the parochial staff of All Saints’ wages. The vicar, Canon RA Pelly, vehemently opposed surrendering any income, and he obtained the support of his bishop and the archbishop of Canterbury. He claimed to do so would: “Awake all the Socialist part of the place to opposition and cause infinite trouble and disturbance”. The church won in the short term but a ruling meant that if the income from the properties made more than £450 a new scheme would have to be put in place. That happened in 1964 when the leases on the properties were sold and the money invested.
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