A Tri-Centennial Founders Day - 22nd May 2015

A 300 year old tradition took place in the quadrangle of the Almshouses in Bedworth on Friday 22nd May 2015 for Founder's Day. Hundreds of school children queued up to receive a sticky bun (hence "bun day" being the popular alternative name for the event) and then sit down to a short sermon by the current rector of Bedworth, the Reverend Richard Hare. The tradition was started by Richard's predecessor, Nicholas Chamberlaine, whose death 300 years ago is being recognised across 2015. For the full illustrated story of the 2015 event, see the feature in the Coventry Telegraph.

Nicholas Chamberlaine's School Foundation and Nicholas Chamberlaine's Hospital and Sermon Charity

Applications are invited to fill a vacancy on the Board of Trustees of the above two Charities.  Applicants should be resident in Bedworth, Exhall or Bulkington or have a close connection with the Bedworth area.  Applicants will be required to show commitment to the Charities’ Founder’s Aims, namely the welfare of elderly people in need and the education of young people according to the teachings of the Church of England. Applicants should show evidence of sympathy with or worship within a recognised Christian church.  Trustees must have the ability to contribute wisely in Trustees’ meetings, to understand accounts and to co-operate well with other Trustees and to show absolute probity and discretion.  Trustees and their immediate families must normally have no pecuniary interest in the supply of work or goods to the Charities and must be eligible to serve as Trustees under the terms of the Charities Act.  Trustees must be available for regular attendance at Trustees’ meetings which are held during the day time.  No remuneration is offered with this position.
Applicants should submit a full CV and a reference, both of which should provide evidence of the applicant’s ability to fulfil the above criteria, to Mr D J Dumbleton, Clerk to the Governors, Nicholas Chamberlaine’s School Foundation, 8 & 9 The Quadrant. Coventry CV1 2EG or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The two spades

Royal Visits

The Prince of Wales visited the Almshouses on the 10th July 1934 and planted an oak tree which still thrives. He used the spade (left) which is signed “Edward” on the handle. The spade (right) was used by the Duke of Gloucester during his visit in 1988. On that occasion he was presented with the first of 500 prints of the Almshouses, commissioned that year to raise money to restore the Pumphouse.

On the same day the Prince of Wales had luncheon at Arbury, visited the Hall and Phillips hat factory in Nuneaton, and declared the new Swinnerton School in Avenue Road, Nuneaton, open.

The Duke of Kent paid a surprise visit to the Almshouses on May 4th 2016. He was accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire Tim Cox and he met Governors, Residents and Almshouses Manager Mrs. Ann Haywood. It was a happy and relaxed visit with the Duke later writing to express his appreciation. This was the third occasion on which a member of the Royal family had visited the Elizabethan-style building constructed in 1840. Rotarian Ken Whitehead was on hand to record the event for which the Trust is most grateful.

 

Henry Bellairs

Henry BellairsHenry Bellairs was one of Bedworth’s long serving rectors serving the Parish of All Saints for 45 years from September 1819 until April 1864. He came to the town as a young curate taking over as rector in 1830 after the death of the previous rector Edward Finch. A man who had led a full and interesting life, Henry Bellairs served in the Royal Navy as a Midshipman and had previously fought with Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. He was wounded in the battle and was awarded a sword, £25 and a medal from the Admiralty.

He was discharged from the navy but it was not the end of Bellairs' military service as he then joined the army. His brother William Bellairs was a lieutenant in the 15th Regiment of Light Dragoons at Waterloo. 

On leaving the army Henry Bellairs decided to join the Church of England. Henry studied at St. Mary’s Hall Oxford and was ordained as a Deacon at Radley in Hertfordshire in July 1817. A man who was considered to be going places he was given the position of Curate at Bedworth after less than 12 months at Radley. Strange as it may seem the rector, Rev. Edward Finch was not living in Bedworth but on the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

Bedworth at this time was not a good place in which to live. Its population of 3,500 who mainly worked in coal mining and silk ribbon weaving were suffering great distress because of unemployment and a lack of support from the church because of the absence of the rector.

Conditions were so bad and the town had such a bad reputation it was known as ‘Black Beduth’.

When he arrived in the town Bellairs found the church empty and the schools which were founded by the will of Nicholas Chamberlaine almost as bad. Sports such as dog fighting, cock fighting, even bull baiting were rife, public disorder was so bad that both men and women would fight in the streets after spending too much time in the pubs of the town.


Henry, a large and strong man, was not afraid Henry Bellairsof the townspeople. A man who had fought at Trafalgar was not going to be beaten by drunken weavers and miners. Using all his energy and character Henry Bellairs changed the town to such a degree that it began to lose its poor reputation.
He was not adverse to using physical means to impose his will on the town. On at least two occasions, one in the Market Place and one in the churchyard he fought with troublemakers, beating them every time. He eventually won the respect of the town. People started to attend church again and children returned to the old schools standing next to the church. Bedworth changed for the better as Bellairs imposed his personality on the town.

Henry and his wife Dorothy had thirteen children, most of whom did not contribute to the history of Bedworth. However their daughter Nona is remembered for her help and assistance to the Bedworth silk weavers after the collapse of the trade in 1860. She also contributed money towards improvements of the parish church.

Henry Bellairs retired as Rector of Bedworth in April 1864 and moved to Paignton in Devon, where he died in April 1871 at the age of 81. He is buried next to his wife Dorothy in St.Giles Churchyard, Exhall.

Henry’s name is now only remembered locally in Bellairs Avenue. Henry Bellairs Church of England Middle School no longer exists, having been merged with Hob Lane School in 2002 to create St. Michael's School.

Photo Gallery

Welcome to our photo gallery, where you can see a collection of images depicting the long history of the Nicholas Chamberlaine Trusts, its people and properties. Click on any picture to see it in more detail. Once one picture has been enlarged in this way, you can page through the pictures, or click on the "play" button to set a slideshow in motion.