In 1596 Archbishop John Whitgift began building the Hospital of the Holy Trinity when on 22nd March that year he laid the first two Foundation Stones which formed the building now known as the Whitgift Almshouses. This date is now commemorated annually as Founder’s Day to celebrate the life and contributions made by John Whitgift and most importantly to give thanks for the incredible Foundation he created. The event also reminds everyone of the importance of giving back to the community and continuing Archbishop John Whitgift’s Legacy.
This year was a memorable service with the Foundation turning 427 years old. The day began with the Founder’s Day Service held at the Croydon Minster that commenced with Whitgifts School’s Corp of Drums performing as members of the Foundation arrived. The service was presented by Fr Andrew, Chaplain to the Foundation and was attended by representatives of every arm of The Foundation including Whitgift Care, Carers Information Service, Old Palace School, Trinity School and Whitgift School who all laid tokens of remembrance to honour Archbishop John Whitgift.
After the ceremony, the Founder’s Day lunch was held at Whitgift House and governors (old and new) and staff sat down with Whitgift Care residents to celebrate and give thanks to John Whitgift. A member of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers’ presented cheques of the annual interest of Dr Barlow’s donation in line with his will. The lunch was a great opportunity for members across the Foundation to meet and celebrate another year of the Foundation.
The first Founder’s Day is recorded to have taken place in 1614 thanks to Dr William Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln and once Chaplain to Archbishop Whitgift. There is an entry in the hospital’s ledger referring to a gift made from Dr Barlow to the Hospital where he granted £100 to the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, the annual interest of this sum of money was to be given to the Hospital for a Founder’s Day Service. The interest was to be divided up as follows: 13s 4d to provide a meal in the Common Hall for all those residing at the Hospital, the more vulnerable sections of society; 13s 4d to a preacher to deliver a sermon and celebrate the life of Archbishop Whitgift; 10s to be put into the Hospital’s communal funds; 3s 4d to the Vicar of Croydon to give notice about the Service on the Sunday beforehand and 6s 8d to a member of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers’ to visit and ensure that these wishes had been carried out. This tradition of distributing gifts is still carried out today following the Founder’s Day Service.
If you are interested in finding out more about Archbishop John Whitgift and John Whitgift Foundation there is plenty to read on our website: The History of John Whitgift and John Whitgift Foundation History
You can also visit our YouTube channel to see some of our recent videos detailing the history of John Whitgift and the Foundation with Father Andrew and Whitgift Archivist, Bill Wood.
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