Origins of Aldermaston's Candle Auction

Church Acre

Enclosure Acts

The Enclosure Acts of the late 18th and early 19th centuries assigned land to the aristocracy and wealth landowners, which also included assignment of lands to the Church. It was one of these acts that legally gave Church Acre to the Church in Aldermaston. The Parliamentary Archive holds the 1811 statute Parliamentary Archive HL/PO/PB/1/1811/51G3n157 that refers to: “An Act for inclosing Lands in the Parish of Woolhampton, and other Parishes and Places therein mentioned, in the County of Berks.”1

Endowment Award

Further evidence of the allotment of land is documented in the “A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 32

Fuel or Fir Plantation.
—A yearly sum of £30 12s. is distributed among all the householders of the parish who desire it in coal. This arises from an award dated 12 April 1815 (fn. 122) for the inclosure of land in Aldermaston and other parishes, being 1s. an acre of the inclosed lands in pursuance of articles of agreement dated 21 and 22 July 1808 respectively.

The Poor’s Allotment now consists of 48a. 3r. 38p. acquired under the same award. It is let at a yearly rent of £40, which is expended by the trustees in coal and is distributed among poor householders of three years’ residence.

Church Acre.
—By the same award a plot in the Church Mead containing 2a. 1r. 33 p. was allotted to the churchwardens in lieu of certain lands. The land is let periodically by ‘candle auction.’ The yearly rent of £4 5s. is applied to church purposes.

The Official Report of the Endowed Charities states:

Church Acre – By the Award of 1815, there was allotted to the Churchwardens of Aldermaston, in compensation for their lands, grounds and rights of common, a plot of land in Church Meadow containing 2a.1r.33p. No trusts were declared by the Award nor is it known what land was previously held by the Churchwardens, but presumably, the above title indicated that they had held land of about one acre. The land is let periodically by ‘Candle Auction’ for terms of three years. The net rent, after the cost of fencing is defrayed, is applied to Church purposes.

1. further investigation required to determine the text of the Act of Parliament

2. ‘Parishes: Aldermaston’, in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3, ed. P H Ditchfield and William Page (London, 1923), pp. 386-395. British History Online [accessed 10 April 2020].

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