The Manor Trust combines a desire to save Bedhampton’s heritage with looking after elderly people.
It was set up in 1967 after Bernard Stanley heard that the imposing Manor House in Old Bedhampton was going to be knocked down and replaced by houses.
The sprawling residence had been the centre of the community for longer than anyone could remember, a place where people gathered for community meetings, Christmas parties and garden parties.
He knew he had to save it but the idea he came up with also helped hundreds of people and went on to become the Manor Trust – an extraordinary charity.
Mr Stanley, now an 83-year-old retired solicitor, can well remember the moment he discovered The Manor House was up for sale.
He said: ‘I was living in the village and it came to my knowledge that the gentleman who owned the house had obtained planning permission to have it demolished and build six houses. I raced to see my friend Cynthia Hoy and said, “have you heard the news?” but of course she hadn’t.
‘When I told her she said, “this can’t be allowed!”.
‘I said there was nothing we could do about it unless we bought it – and we did. For the grand sum of £15,000.
‘In those days it was a tremendous amount of money. Having bought the house we had to do something with it.’
The friends hit upon the idea of turning it into a home for older people, based on the model of Abbeyfield Care Homes where residents could live independently in an almost hotel-like atmosphere.
And they quickly saw to it that it was listed with English Heritage, protecting it forever.
Running it as a charity they were able to pay off the cost of the mortgage and were in a position to buy The Elms, which is just a few hundred yards from The Manor, which was also under threat.
Built in the 17th century as a simple house, it has been added to extensively and was Gothicised in the 18th century. It is now such a unique building it has also been listed and again saved from developers.
There are five apartments where younger retired people live independently.
But sadly The Manor is to be sold as the property is no longer needed.
It has been a labour of love for Mr Stanley, his trustees Jenny Write, Mike Sellis and Sue McLaurin-Pratt.
Mrs McLaurin-Pratt voluntarily set up The Lodge, a rest home, running it as matron for two years in the early 1980s.
She said: ‘I don’t think there is anything else like this in the country, to my knowledge. It is unique. It’s a very different sort of charity, combining heritage and care.
‘It began with Bernard and Cynthia wanting to save The Manor and has grown from there. It is for people who can look after themselves but find it difficult to keep house and do the shopping.
‘But, over the years, we found that people were being looked after in their own homes for longer and by the time they came here they required more care than we could give.
‘It got to the stage where we only had two or three residents at The Manor and it was then we realised we needed to sell.
‘It was the worst time of my life telling those who had been here a long time that they had to go.’
Although The Manor was on the market for £1.25m it is believed to have been sold for less than £1m. But every penny will be ploughed back into the two remaining properties for the charity.
The Manor Trust provides accommodation for older people at a much lower cost than other commercial homes which means there is a waiting list to move into the beautiful properties.
Money is raised for the charity through letting the apartments and four major fundraising events.
The first is the annual art exhibition held on the last weekend in May at The Elms. Pieces are submitted by local artists and a portion of each sale goes to benefit the work of The Manor Trust.
The garden party is held early in August. A small entrance fee is charged and there are lots of home made cakes and things to buy. A coffee morning is held each November with a variety of stalls. A Secret Bookshop is held in the Waterloo Room at The Elms each quarter on the first Sunday of the month.
The charity also receives donations.
Cheques are accepted made payable to The Manor Trust Bedhampton. Please send to The Lodge, 8 Lower Road, Bedhampton, Havant, PO9 3LH.
If you make a donation of £100 or more you will automatically become a life member of the Friends of the Manor Trust.
For more information go to manortrust.org.uk.