High on the north wall of the church is a plaque giving details of the Thomas Clabburn Charity to help the poor of Flordon.
The plaque records that in 1816, 'a Benefaction of £200 left by the Will of Mr THOMAS CLABBURN is invested in the 5 per cent Navy Annuities in the names of the Rev. Sir Willm. Robt. Kemp, John Gay Esq., Thos. Brightwell and Francis Church. The interest to be given in bread or coals to the poor of this Parish the first Monday in February every year.'
A 1783 Norwich trade directory records Thomas Clabburn as a 'worsted weaver and manufacturer of bed coverlids' at 16 Timberhill, in the parish of All Saints. Under his Will dated 17th February 1815 he left £200 to the parishes of Flordon, Tharston and Newton Flotman, and £400 to the churchwardens in Tasburgh for coal and bread for the poor of each parish - but only to those who were of good character and regular churchgoers! He also left similar bequests to various parishes in Norwich, and larger amounts to the hospitals and other benevolent institutions in the city.
£200 in those days would be roughly equivalent to £10,000 in today's terms , so Thomas Clabburn would have been a gentleman of some substance, but quite what his connection was to Flordon and its neighbouring parishes is not clear.
The legacy was invested in 5% Navy Annuities, a form of government bond issued after the battle of Trafalgar to help fund the war against Napoleon. By the time Thomas Clabburn died, Napoleon was defeated and safely incarcerated on St Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, where he died in 1821. Eventually, the government replaced remaining 5% Navy Annuities with 2.5% Consolidated Stock, often referred to as Consols, which is how the funds were still shown in records dated 1928.
The Trustees listed on the plaque are the Rector at the time, the Lord of the Manor of Rainthorpe, and another major local landowner in the parish. Thomas Clabburn's Charity was subsequently taken over by the Parochial Church Council, but, as with so many small historic charities, investment income dwindled over time until it barely paid for a loaf of bread! And it looks as if the Charity was so insignificant that the plaque was moved to an almost unreadable (and definitely un-polishable) position when the Word War 2 memorial was installed on the same wall....
Tasburgh Town Lands Charity is an even older charity, set up to benefit the poor of the parish of Tasburgh but with some land within the parish of Flordon. It was originally governed by a Trust Deed dated 25th April 1778, although it seems likely that the charity existed even before then. When it had to be transferred to new trustees in 1828, the property was described as three parcels of land containing 3.5 acres in Tasburgh, nine parcels containing 8.5 acres in Flordon plus 1 acre of land in Stratton St. Michael. At that time, the tenants of the Flordon land were Zac George of Tasburgh Mill, Mary Girdlestone of Rainthorpe Hall, and Sir William Kemp of Mergate Hall, Bracon Ash, with one acre being rented by John Pratt. The average rent was £1.40 an acre, and it was the total rents that were distributed to the poor of Tasburgh.
Much of the land was held in the form of field strips, as can be seen on the tithe may. Half an acre of one of the strips in Flordon was taken for the building of the railway in the 1840s, and the trustees received in return half an acre of nearby land off Greenways, although the exchange wasn't finally documented until 1870! A plan of the Rainthorpe Estate in 1852 shows the names of adjoining landowners, and the charity's Flordon strips are marked "Tasburgh Town" ie. the Town Lands charity. In 1928 the charity was incorporated into Tasburgh United Charities, by which time the holding of lands in Flordon had been reduced to 7 acres whilst land in Tasburgh had increased by one and a half acres as a result of an exchange of land.
In 1951 the trustees sold an acre of land in Flordon for £50 to the Forehoe & Henstead Rural District Council for the building of council houses, and in 1978 the remaining four pieces of land in Flordon were sold to the tenant, Alan King of Laybye Farm, Saxlingham Nethergate, for £2750. This included two strips of land running through what is now the Tas Valley Cricket Club's grounds adjoining the Flordon to Newton Flotman road.
With thanks to Ben Goodfellow for research into both these charities.