Guarlford History Group

Charles Morris (Victorian benefactor)

Our book, The Guarlford Story, records that the church plate was a gift from Charles Morris.

He would have been a prominent citizen in 1850, but nowadays few will have heard of him apart from local historians. So who was this benefactor?

Early life

Charles, born in London 1799, was one of six children and came from a well connected family.

He was the son of Charles Morris senior (1768 - 1844) and Sarah Haldiman of Portman Square. His paternal grandfather James Morris was Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey and High Sheriff in 1764.

His maternal grandfather, merchant, Anthony Francis Haldimand, was a nephew of General Sir Frederick Haldimand, once governor of Quebec, and cousin of William Haldimand, a director of The Bank of England.

His uncle Roger, Lt Col Roger Morris, second Foot Guards (later Coldstream Guards), a friend of the Duke of York, had died at Alkmaar Holland, after the Battle of Bergen, in 1799 while serving with allied forces against the French commanded by General Brune

Charles' eldest brother James Morris was a partner in the merchant bank Morris Prevost and Company. In 1833 James married Sarah Campbell daughter of James Campbell, a director of the Bank of England.

Between 1847 and 1849, Charles' brother James was Governor of the Bank of England.

Later life

Charles and his sister Jane never married, and the 1851 census records them at a house in Worcester Road, Great Malvern, called  'The Chase' (since demolished). His occupation was recorded as Proprietor of Houses, suggesting he lived on private means.

Charles was a great benefactor to Malvern and his good works included,

  • Funding the public water supply at North Hill Clock Tower in 1835

  • Funding a new building for North Malvern National School in 1838 (see note below)

  • Funding of a water spout at Lower Wyche in 1840

  • Providing a reservoir and spout for West Malvern in 1844

  • Providing, with his sister Jane, most of the funds for building Holy Trinity Church at North Hill in 1851.

Charles died suddenly in London in 1856, and two years later a plaque was placed above the west door of Holy Trinity church, North Malvern (see photo below).

Charles Morris plaque in Holy Trinity church

The inscription on the plaque is not easy to read but here is what it says,

This window is placed

to the honour of God's House

and in memory of his servant

++ Charles Morris ++

whose faith working by love

bore the fruit of many good works and alms deeds

in this parish and district

Erected by parishioners and friends


Another plaque on the North Malvern (water) Tank reads,

The inhabitants of North Malvern have placed this stone to record that these tanks were erected at the sole expense of Charles Morris Jn Esq of Portman Square London in 1835 and 1836

Ye young and aged poor pray that the blessings of God may be abundantly poured unto him who has here poured abundant blessings on you.

Jane Morris (sister)

Following Charles' death, his sister Jane (1796 - 1869) went to live near her brother James in London.

In 1861, Jane was in the household of Henrietta Barbara Lumley-Saville, daughter of the Earl of Scarborough; Henrietta had  married, second, John Lodge Ellerton. Possibly Jane and Henrietta were friends or Jane had taken a post as a companion. Henrietta is described in the 1861 census as a 'Marquesses daughter'. Her household included 21 servants. A sharp contrast to the families of the farm labourers in Guarlford!

Jane continued to support her brother's charities and died in 1869. Her brother James died in 1882. None of this generation had children to pass down their wealth to.

More about Charles' life and gifts can be found in ref 4.

Historical backdrop

Charles Morris was born when Great Britain was at war with France following the French Revolution. He was six years of age when Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar, and sixteen when soldiers Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington, and Edward Pyndar Lygon, 2nd Life Guards, of Madresfield Court fought Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

Towards the end of Charles' life Great Britain was at war again fighting with Russia in the Crimea, for example at the Battle of Alma. The British cavalry took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade and Florence Nightingale tended wounded soldiers, later visiting Malvern to recuperate.

Charles would have seen the introduction of gas street lighting in London, but it was not until 1856 the year of his death that a gas works was opened in Pickersleigh Road to light the streets of Great Malvern.

Charles would have travelled to and from London by stage coach or private carriage as the railway did not reach Malvern and Worcester until about 1860.


North Malvern School, built in 1836, was the first National School in Malvern. It was rebuilt in 1838 with help from Charles Morris and was for some years known as the Morris school. The Church of England was in most cases responsible for the upkeep of National Schools and so they became known as Church Schools (ref 5).


1.  England census 1851 and 1861

2. Colburn, Henry, a genealogical history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland enjoying territorial possessions or high official rank. Volume 4, 1838

3. The Guarlford Story

4. Weaver Cora and Osborne Bruce, Aqua Malvernensis, a history and topography of the springs, spouts, fountains and wells of the Malverns, and the development of the public water supply, printed by Aldine Press, 1994.

5. Holt Gill, Malvern Voices, Schools, an oral history. Published by Malvern Museum and printed by Aldine Press 2002.

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