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Richard Aldworth's Educational Charity, Basingstoke

Sir Richard Aldworth (d.1646) left money to the Corporation of Basingstoke to educate ten boys of good and religious poor men of the town and to afterwards place them into ‘honest trades’. The boys attended Aldworth’s Hospital School (later known as the Blue Coat School) and were apprenticed out at the age of 16. Some of them stayed in the town but others were sent further afield, for instance to London, Newbury, Hungerford, Andover, Odiham and Southampton.

The majority of boys were bound for seven years on delivery of £6 13s 4d to their master. Apprentices were not allowed to gamble with cards or dice, frequent playhouses or taverns or enter into marriage; in turn their masters were to keep them in food, clothes and lodgings. On completion of their apprenticeship they were to be provided with two suits of clothes, one for Sundays and Holy Days and one for work days.

One boy, William Adams, was sent to Alton in 1709 to learn the trade of basket making and had the extra proviso written into his indenture that he was not permitted to attend any Quaker meetings. Some boys were given their coach fares to attend trials of different trades and advertisements were placed in newspapers looking for craftsmen with suitable vacancies.

By 1816 money from another benefactor, the Rev Thomas Sheppard, increased the apprentices’ fees by an additional £6 13s 4d and by 1822 the Corporation made up the premium for each boy to £20 in order to comply with Aldworth’s original wishes. The number of Blue Coat scholars gradually reduced and the school closed in 1879 but the charity continued to provide scholarships for pupils attending secondary schools and later to university applicants. In 2009/2010 the charity was renamed as Aldworth’s Educational Trust and gave grants of approx. £1,200pa to primary school children for travel, books, equipment, clothing and residential visits.

Content derived during research for the new VCH Hampshire volume, Basingstoke and its surroundings.