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Finance of the Church


From the earliest times, funds have been needed to pay for the priest and the fabric of the church building at Ugborough.

When the church and its parish were created, before 1121, two sources of revenue were given to fund it. One was land, which could be cultivated or rented out to support the rector. The second was tithe, a church tax collected on produce. This was traditionally supposed to be one tenth of the ‘profit’ or increase of the surplus of everyone’s land, but in practice the amount varied. In addition, individuals would give gifts to the church, offerings and also raise funds for special projects. The church itself would also have been given land and animals over the years, administered by the churchwardens for the upkeep and daily costs of the church.


According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, Ugborough Rectory (ie the living) was worth £76 11s 11/2d.


When Plympton priory was dissolved and the patronage passed to the Crown then the Champernownes/Savarys, the patrons kept the rents and tithes and paid a pension of £20 a year to the vicar. The rector and then the vicar had use of a house during their ministry. In 1384, Archbishop William Courtney of Canterbury dined with the rector of Ugborough in his house, on his way to visit Cornwall. The house also had a garden with an orchard.


 In the very cold year of 1591, only £13 10s was collected from rents and £28 came from tithes. A terrier – land register – of around 1600 records that there were 20 houses and 100 acres of lands which belonged to the vicarage, which Christopher Savary of the parish of Totnes held, renting them out to various tenants; the tithe paid on wool and lambs was worth £200 per year.


When the Grocers’ Company purchased the living of Ugborough, their records show that in 1788 the greater tithe produced £101 0s 9d. The rate was 2/6 in the pound which they increased to 3/-, which then produced £117 19s 6d. In 1810 they produced £160 3s 2d and in 1844, The commissioners recorded that they represented 1061 acres out of which 83 acres constituted the glebe, which paid the £20 for the vicar’s stipend.


Over time, the stipend paid to the vicar declined in real terms. Polwels in 1797 remarked that the vicar’s stipend was still £20 per year, although the living itself was worth £1000 by this time. The vicarage was also spacious but old and in poor condition by this time. However, during the later 18th century, the glebe land which supported the vicar was augmented by the purchase of Brownston farm by the patron John Savary, under the terms of Queen Anne’s Bounty, which added £6 to the vicar’s revenue.

Collecting tithes caused many disputes in parishes and the revenue from them – based on the average price of corn – because increasingly inconvenient for clergy and landowners. In 1836, Parliament passed the Tithe Commutation Act. Based on land values, tithes were converted to an annual money rent. All land in England and Wales had to be surveyed and valued in order to apportion the rent and so detailed maps were drawn up. Ugborough has two tithe apportionment maps, one dating from 1842 surveyed by John Taperell and one from 1843 surveyed by John Grant. The Tithe Commutation Act commissioners assessed the value of the tithe at Ugborough at £185, to be apportioned across liable lands.


In 1869, the Local Government Act relieved the church of remaining social welfare and government functions. From this date, the church had to raise its own revenue as it could not levy a rate. At the Easter vestry meeting of 1869 it was proposed that the upkeep of the church be met from weekly offerings and voluntary contributions. In 1895, church receipts from ordinary revenue were £47 0s 3d; expenditure was £53 10s 6d so there was a deficit of £6 10s 3d.


In 1924, the vicar was still collecting rents due in lieu of tithes. £100 19s 4d was paid on 78 different properties which had owed tithe to Ugborough church.


Public subscription and donations were vital as sources of revenue. The 1861 renovations to the church were paid for by the Carew family, the Grocers’ Company and subscriptions. The churchyard extension of 1903 was paid for by contributions from 81 donors, the largest gifts being £3 3s from F.B. Mildmay MP and £3 from N.W. Rowe. In 1909, the Misses Carew contributed to the restoration fund and the choir fund. However, the new organ and refurbishment of the south chapel in 1938 cost £450, of which £205 was raised through a loan, to be paid off in 10 years.


The Grocers Company as patrons have always assisted the maintenance of the church. In the late 18th century they paid for major refurbishment to the vicarage and its little estate at Brownston, at a cost of £230. 1861, they gave £120 to the restoration of the church. In 1939 they gave £200 for a project of installing a new electric Hammond organ and refurbishment of the south chapel. They continued to assist the church fabric regularly today.


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