The History of The Trust

In the 1930s Effingham residents formed a committee which raised enough money to buy over 30 acres of the parkland of a former mansion. Part of this money came as a grant from a national fund established in memory of King George V who died in 1936. The aim of the fund was to help provide playing fields across the nation. This was a fitting memorial because George had been personally very enthusiastic about sport.  He introduced the custom of having a royal attend the football Cup Final, Test Match cricket, and tennis and rugby matches, for instance.  In the photograph here you can see him presenting the winner’s cup to the captain of the New Zealand Services rugby team in London in 1919. He  had had a strong belief in the public health benefits generally of fresh air and exercise.

A condition of applying to this fund was that any site receiving a grant would be named a ‘King George’s Field’, and so it is in Effingham. (There are about 470 other ‘King George’s Fields’ across the country and about 48 of these are registered charities). Another condition of the grant was the display of official carved stone memorial plaques on the gate pillars. These designs are now reflected in our emblem.

Sir Barnes Neville Wallis, who with several others in 1947 gifted the land in trust to Effingham Parish Council. He is shown here in 1966 cutting the ribbon at the opening of the new Hall
The lion and unicorn plaques on the gateposts at KGV

The money having been raised, seven individuals stepped forward to assume the role of purchasing trustees; it was to these persons that the land was formally conveyed, in trust, in late 1938. It was now their responsibility, under the trust to which they had committed themselves, to bring the land into its intended use as a facility for recreational use by the inhabitants of Effingham. Although they had been willing to act as the purchasers they were less enthusiastic about this onerous obligation and looked for ways to transfer their trusteeship to a corporate body and to have a Committee of Management set up to undertake the practical management. The onset of World War II meant that little could be done to pursue this intent until peace resumed. After the War, in 1947, the purchasing trustees gifted (in trust) the land to Effingham Parish Council, whose councillors accepted that gift unanimously.

A much more detailed account of the origins of the Trust and of its life up to 1947 can be found on the website of Effingham Local History Group on this page.

A few years later, perhaps thinking that steps should be taken to protect this community asset from suffering compulsory purchase to provide housing, the Council decided to register the Trust as a charity and to become its Sole Trustee. This was a complex process but a governing scheme for the Charity was eventually drawn up and implemented in 1951. It had always been the intention that as soon as possible there would be a village hall as well, so – although a hall was not built until 1966 – the Charity was named ‘King George’s Field and Hall’. When the registration of charities began ten years later in 1961, this Charity was assigned Registered Number 305018.

In 1955, Charles Calburn, Lord of the Manor of Effingham East Court, donated the Calburn Cricket Field on Effingham Common and another tiny piece of land to the Charity.

The governing scheme of the new Charity in 1951 empowered the Trustee to “permit” a committee of 25 specified volunteer members to deal with the practical management of the Charity on the Trustee’s behalf. The members forming this ‘Committee of Management’ were required to sign declarations of acceptance and of willingness to act in conformity with the objects of the Charity, but they were not themselves trustees; the Council alone was ultimately responsible for funding, operating and maintaining the facility.

The Council’s role as Sole Trustee prevailed for four decades while this scheme remained in force, unaltered. By the later stages of that period the CoM had proved far too unwieldy and unstable to act in the cohesive manner that had been originally anticipated. It was decided to change the Charity’s scheme, a process which consumed most of the 1980s.  Finally, in 1990, a new scheme came into effect. The day-to-day running of the facilities was now put into the hands of a somewhat smaller (but still too large) committee of 18 volunteer Managing Trustees. These people were not elected or paid, they just agreed to shoulder the job of keeping the Charity solvent and functioning and to comply with the Charities Acts then in force.

The property was naturally registered at the Land Registry in the name of the Council, since the latter’s name had been on the title deeds ever since the original gift to it in 1947. In relation to the Charity, the Council became in 1990 simply the ‘Custodian Trustee’, holding the deeds. This role made it unnecessary to alter the deeds every time a change occurred among the Managing Trustees. As a  ‘Custodian Trustee’ the Council now had virtually no role in the ongoing management of the site, except in the extreme circumstance where it had good legally-supported reason to believe that the Managing Trustees were committing a breach of trust and endangering the security of the asset.

The governing scheme was revised again in 2009 when the Charity was renamed as ‘Effingham Village Recreation Trust’, its present-day name.  The maximum number of Managing Trustees was reduced under this revision to just seven. A small subsequent scheme change in 2018 was made in order to narrow the scope for conflicts of interest.

In 2022 the governing scheme was changed yet again, this time to restore the Council’s role as Sole Trustee. The amended scheme empowered the Council, as in earlier times, to delegate the performance of some actions to a committee of volunteers. This committee is termed the ‘Executive Board’ and its actions on behalf of the Charity are  subject always and absolutely to the authority of the Trustee.

The Charity is for the benefit of ‘the residents of Effingham and its immediate neighbourhood’. The Trustee holds an Annual General Meeting for the beneficiaries each year in June or as soon thereafter as convenient. This is the opportunity for Effingham residents to receive reports about the Charity from the Chairman and Treasurer on the previous year’s events and finances.

NB  The site is ‘held in trust’. Despite a common misconception, Effingham residents do not ‘own’ the site either individually or collectively, and they have no right to take whatever action they like on the premises if in their opinion things should be different.  This would make any charity ungovernable. The Trustee and its Executive Board, who have undertaken to abide by the strict guidance of charity law, do the best they can to keep the assets safe for all residents both on a daily basis and for the foreseeable future.  This includes setting the arrangements for what happens on the site.  Having to take difficult decisions which may be unpopular with a minority of residents but are for the greater good is a necessary part of the role.

Some Thank Yous

Down the years since 1935 and the first campaign to purchase the land from Mrs Delores Pauling, many hundreds of people have contributed thousands – more like hundreds of thousands – of volunteer hours to ensure that both the site and the charity have survived and flourished.  This has been, and is, the most massively successful ongoing community effort by a village, very few of which have such a splendidly large asset to enjoy – but also to maintain – as Effingham does.  

Support has taken many forms. Thanks must be recorded to the following:

For the contribution of their valuable, one-use only, personal time and usually also at financial cost to themselves, to the Honorary Chairs, Treasurers, Secretaries and members of all the Managing Trustee Boards, Committees, sub-committees and working parties at KGV over more than 8 decades

For their vital fundraising efforts, to all the many groups down the years who have assembled teams of volunteers to put on village day events, sports days, shows, dances, fireworks, quizzes and so on for the benefit of the everyday running costs of KGV, and to all the people who have come along to support them

To all the campaign groups who have raised money for specific projects which have expanded and developed facilities such as playgrounds or the multi-use games area for example

To the organisations who are or were long-term partners at KGV, contributing money and effort and work to improve and benefit the Charity’s facilities.

To individual donors who have given generously, whether money or gifts such as trees for planting, or benches for the grounds and so on

To all the Wardens, Groundsmen and Managers who have combined professionalism in their job with understanding of the community setting

To the many individuals who have used the facilities for their regular group activities such as table tennis, gardening, music, fitness, dance and so on.

The Trust is immensely grateful  to Guildford Borough Council whose Concurrent Grant Aid scheme has been a vital source of money for annual projects down the years; also to Surrey County Council similarly for its grant schemes.

The final thank you must go to Effingham Parish Council, last but a very long way from least, for the unstinting support over 80 years channelling substantial financial support from the precept to the charity which helps to maintain the principle of completely free daily access by residents.  

If anyone feels their contribution to the Charity has been overlooked and is not provided for somewhere in this list, please get in touch so we can rectify matters.