BARTON and Dunstall Key Trust maintained a tradition dating back to the 17th century by handing the vicar of Barton under Needwood 10 shillings to deliver a sermon on Good Friday.
This year’s sermon was preached at St James’ Parish Church, based in the village, by Rev Andrew Ridley, vicar of Barton, and he was presented with 10 shillings by the chairman of the Barton and Dunstall Key Trust.
It is believed that this tradition is one of the oldest of its kind surviving in Britain.
When the numerous charities of Barton and Dunstall were reformed into the Barton and Dunstall Key Trust in 1972, there was an opportunity to bring the value up to date but trustees honoured the covenant put in place by William Key by maintaining the payment at the 1651 sum.
Present day value of ten shillings, allowing for inflation varies between £58 and nearly £1,000 if it is related to present average earnings.
Rev Ridley said “It’s a wonderful tradition but it makes me wonder why it was thought necessary to have to pay the vicar of Barton what was then quite a tidy sum to deliver a Good Friday sermon - what was going on all those years ago?”
William Key, 17th century landowner and keeper of the Barton Ward of Needwood Forest, died in October 1651.
He left various plots of land the rents of which were to be distributed to the poor of the villages of Barton under Needwood and Dunstall.
Over the years, some have been sold and investments now produce the majority of the Trust’s income.
Adrian Wedgwood, chairman, said “Local individuals and organisations who think we may be able to help can look up our aims and objectives at www.bartondunstallkeytrust.co.uk.”