The unusual sounding Town Lands and Richard Mylls Charity – better known as the Tonbridge Wardens – can trace its origins back to 1430, making it one of England’s oldest charitable organisations.
However, its present Chairman David Davis, who is a Freeman of the Borough and a former council leader, admits that few people appear aware of its work.
The group was originally responsible for maintaining the town’s former series of bridges across the River Medway but in the modern day provides funding for town improvements such as riverside seating and public dedication plaques, to maintain the area’s ambience.
Though his borough council-appointed position, which includes chairing two meetings a year, has a modest operating budget of around £2,500 a year from its investments, Mr Davis is keen the town continues to benefit from the work he and his colleagues – Janice Browne, Gordon Court and Eddie Prescott – carry out and is calling on residents to make donations.
Mr Davis, aged 80, said: “The history of the charity goes back to Elizabethan times and gained its legal status in 1575 for the benefit of Tonbridge town.
“I’m pleased to be associated with something that has that kind of history, and I’ve been doing this for over 25 years now. But one of the things we have found is the public is not that aware of what we do.
“One of the biggest projects in recent years has been paying towards new Tonbridge Castle Gatehouse doors, as well as public seating at places like the Memorial Garden,” explained Mr Davis, a retired insurance broker.
During his council days in the 1970s and 80s, he had backed the original development of the Angel Centre as an important element of the town’s economic development.
He added: “I have lived in the area a long time and I’m not sure the town has changed all that much – it’s still the friendly place it always was and as such I’ve liked living here. I hope the work that’s going on here now will bring some improvement to the town, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
For more information on the Tonbridge Wardens’ work, and to make a donation, email Mr Davis at: firstname.lastname@example.org