Thomas Bate of Challock held land in Challock and Nonington with which he made charitable bequests during the reign of Henry VIII.
In Nonington his bequest consisted of:-
“Landes given by Thomas Bate to thentent that one priest shulde celebrate masse within the said parishe iij (3) tymes yerelie for ever.
Also: rent or ferme of v rods (5 rods or 1 ¼ acres) of land in the parish of Nonyngton next Harelestrete (Holt Street Buttes, now Butter Street) butts now or late in the tenure of Richard Mockett there, yerely ijs (2s) (previously owned by the Knights of St. John and confiscated by the Crown).
Also: rent or ferme of i (one) and half acres at Frogham Hill there now in tenere of William Stuppell yerely xviijd.(18.d)”.
The above mentioned land came into the possession of William Boys of Fredville who acted as a Crown Agent during the Reformation with the responsibility of recording the possessions and assets of religious bodies and institutions and was therefore well situated to purchase confiscated land and other property. In 1600 William Boys of Tilmanstone, a descendant of the above mentioned William Boys of Fredville, is said to have made a bequest of the one and a half acres at Frogham Hill which specified that there were to be two houses for two poor house keepers on the land, and the paupers were also each to receive a sack of wheat at Christmas. However, some other ancient sources state that the donor of this property was unknown.
At the end of the 18th century Edward Hasted recorded in the Nonington chapter of his history of Kent that the annual revenue from the land was £5 10/- [£5 50p] which was at the disposal of the Reverend James Morrice, the owner Bettshanger manor.
Some forty years later the Report of the Commissioners for Charities of the County of Kent of 1839 recorded:
It is stated in Hasted’s History of Kent that a donor unknown gave to five poor housekeepers of this parish two houses and one acre and a half of land, at Frogsham (sic), with a sack of wheat to each housekeeper every Christmas, then vested in the Rev. James Morrice, owner of Betshanger (sic) manor, and of the annual produce of 5l. 10s (£.5 10 s).
It is stated by J. P. Plumptre, esq., of Fredville Park, in this parish, that the property consists of two old tenements under one roof, with two small outbuildings east, and about a quarter of an acre of land adjoining, used by the inmates of the houses as garden-ground; that there also belongs to the charity a quarter of an acre of land, which has been for many years taken into Fredville Park, and for which the proprietors of the estate have always paid a yearly rent of 3l (£.3). Also two small fields contiguous to each other, containing each about 1a 1r (1 acre & 1 rood or 1 ¼ acres), and bounded on every side by land belonging to Mr. Plumptre, who pays the yearly rent of 2l 2s (£2 2s) for each field.
The patronage of these almshouses has for upwards of a century been considered as vested in the owners of the Betshanger estate, and it is stated by Mr. Morrice, the present proprietor, that in consequence of the charity-houses and land being situated in the midst of the Fredville property, an agreement was entered into with the late Mr. Plumptre, that he should fill up the vacancies, taking upon himself the annual payment of a sack of wheat to the tenants of the houses, a bounty to which they were entitled, as is supposed, out of the Betshanger estate.
Two old labourers have been appointed to these almshouses from time to time by Mr. Plumptre and his predecessor, and they have received a sack of wheat or its value in money, and the rents of the three pieces of land before mentioned equally between them.
The buildings are very old and dilapidated, and there appears to be no fund for the repairs, except by detaining part of the rents above mentioned for that purpose”.
Bagshaw’s directory of 1847 reports that: ‘two old labourers have been appointed from time to time by Mr. Plumptre and £7 4/- is divided equally between the inmates as the yearly value of the lands’. The 1839 tithe map apportionment recorded William Young and others as living there, and the apportionment for the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners map listed Mary Burville and one other as resident in the Nightingale cottages.
In 1903 the Charity Land was sold by consent of the Charity Commissioners to H. W. Plumtre. Four trustees were appointed to administer the investment of the proceeds of the sale for such purposes as sanctioned by the committee, this became known as the Nightingale Trust. At the time of the sale the land was occupied in part by two newly built cottages, the present Nightingale Cottages.
Other Nonington charities were mentioned by Edward Hasted in his history of Kent, but Bagshaw’s Directory of 1847 stated that these charities were not recorded in the Charity Commissioners reports.
The charities recorded by Hasted were:
The 1596 will of Edward Boys, gentleman, of Nonington and Challock, a son of William Boys, esq., of Nonington, which gave a 40/- (£.2.00) per annum annuity from 15 acres in Nonington and Barfreston to be paid annually to the poorest of the parish.
Robert Barger, yeoman, of Bridge, gave to the parson and churchwardens of Nonington in his will of 1600 the rents and profits of his house in the parish for the relief of the poor of Nonington.
The 1634 will of Sir Edward Boys of Nonington gave the poor of the parish the sum of £6 to be ‘employed for a stock to set the poor at work, and not otherwise to be employed, so as the overseers or any sufficient man of the parish be bound yearly to the heirs of Fredville, whereby the stock be not lost’.