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How the Harley Trust has developed to become what it is today

In 1761 it was reported to The Lord Chancellor that the trustees were misappropriating the income over the £100 set out in the will. As a consequence of this the Lord Chancellor decreed that 75% of the income should go to the dependants of deceased clergy and 25% of the income be spent on the education of young people.

Further clarification came at the beginning of the twentieth century when the Charity Commissioners set out clearly the three branches of the charity: 


  • The first, 1901, was the Estate charity holding the assets of the trust.

  • The second, 1905, was the charity for clergy widows in the order of priority of the Diocese of Leicester, then Southwell and finally all of England and Wales.

  • The third, 1907, was for the education of young people under the age of twenty five whose parents live in Leicestershire, with an order of preference of Osgathorpe, Belton and the old Urban District of Coalville, and those schools which substantially serve these areas of benefit.


The school was closed in 1901 and the pupils transferred to the new King Edward VII School in Coalville where the school theatre is named “The Thomas Harley Theatre”.

Due to a total lack of applicants, Osgathorpe has no shop and at the time no bus service – hardly ideal for clergy widows, the decision was made to sell The Residences and Allsop’s Cottage in 1986.

In 1990 these charities were, for accounting purposes, effectively merged into one, although the beneficiaries and the apportionment of income remained the same.

The Harley Trust Today

Charitable Branch

 The charitable branch of the Harley Trust receives 75% of the trust income.

At the turn of this century Isobel Oldham carried out a survey for the charity, and ultimately for the Leicester Diocese, of all dependants of deceased clergy in the Diocese.


This survey identified the age and financial circumstances of all the dependants. The survey forms the basis for an annual grant to all those in need with an income of less than £16,000 per annum.


In addition, grants are made for repairs to property and the replacement of basic necessities when necessary.


A bereavement grant of £3,000 is made to widows/widowers upon the death of their husband/wife.


The Diocese advises on this part of the charity.

The Education Branch


The education branch of the Harley Trust receives 25% of the trust income.


The education charity splits its grants approximately in the ratio two-thirds to young people and one-third to the thirty schools serving the preferred area of benefit.


The education branch awards a diverse range of grants to both schools and individuals who are eligible.


The trustees consider all of the applications at their bi-annual meetings. 

To see a selection of the the wide variety of grants we have awarded take a look at the grant examples page or click on the link below.

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