The Savages of Cavendish
Sometimes the strangest stories are the ones that turn out to be true. So it is with George Savage, a farm labourer's son from Cavendish, who spotted an advert in a paper, placed by a young lady, for a 'partner'. He set off to London, lived a long and successful life, and died worth a considerable fortune which he bequeathed to the poor and needy of Cavendish.
It is said that George, who worked for Thomas Edward Ambrose, Basil's Grandfather, regularly took a National Daily Newspaper and saw an advertisement therein for a 'partner', whether it was meant a husband or business partner is not known, He took a day's holiday, went to London and proposed successfully, and became both husband or business partner. He married Emma in 1873. He moved to London and helped his wife with her business. They prospered and the business expanded, so that George became the proprietor of an hotel in Waterloo Road in London.
As he became wealthire, he purchased Hill Farm, Glemsford, with about 60 acres and they came down for weekends to stock up with country fayre provisions for their London business. He then, in 1883, bought Glemsford Brickyards, 23 acres of land, a dwelling house and cottage in Lower Road, Glemsford. He let the brickyards and some of the rest and over the years acquired further land and properties. He retired to Hill House in Lower Road after 50 years in the hotel business. Emma, who lost her sight in later years, died in 1924. She was thrown from a trap, driven by her husband, after the pony shied and she never regained consciousness. When his wife died he sold up and retired. When he died aged 92, he left his fortune to his sister, his cousins, his nephews and nieces, his housekeeper and gardener and the residue to the Congregational Chapel of Cavendish, to care for the poor, elderly and the sick of Cavendish. '...for the poor and sick of the village and in recognition of the many acts of kindness to my late father and mother shown by the villagers'.
George's father, who died aged 94 in 1913, was a farm labourer and later a farmer on a small scale. George Savage was born in Cavendish in 1845, one of a family of twelve. His parents, brother Charles and sister Mrs Elsey, all lived beyond the age of 90. His mother died in 1919 aged ninety eight. George used to recount that when he was too young to walk far, he would be carried into the fields by his father and left to scare birds for a shilling (5p) a week. On many occasions his only food was swedes. One of George's brothers lived in Hyde Park Corner beside Cavendish Green.
Mr Savage's housekeeper, who as Miss Mary Gertrude Brown was left £1000 and property, subsequently married an old sweetheart, and became Mrs Grimwood."I was companion to his wife, who was blind for many years", she remembered, "I was with them when they celebrated their golden wedding. After she died thirteen years ago, I became his housekeeper, and looked after him to the end , now I am forty six, and a very happily married woman, thanks to him"."His sister, to whom he left £500 is now ninety one and his brother , who died last year was ninety two".
The George Savage Trust was set up by the Church Deacons and Basil Ambrose's father, Tom, to administer George's instructions in his will. At the first meeting the Trust was registered with the Charity Commission. The capital sum was invested and the interest received was used to make grants to those in need in the village.
The five cottages on Cavendish Green, known as The Hyde Park Corner cottages, which feature so heavily in any description of the village were rescued from the threat of demolition by the Cavendish Preservation Society. After their renovation, the George Savage Trust accepted responsibility for the cottages in November 1957. It was thought that the provision of 'almshouse' accommodation was within the spirit of the original bequest. They are now administered for the benefit of people connected with the village of Cavendish and form an outstanding group of renovated buildings of international interest. There are five separate dwellings in the group, some with two bedrooms. New residents must be over the age of 60 and have some connection with Cavendish either through family or residence. The maintenance charges are kept at reasonable levels. Seven village residents serve as trustees, some of whom are nominated by local councils.