400 year anniversary
In 1618, Dr Thomas Edwards made a gift of £20 for the immediate benefit of the poor of Fulham and left £100 to buy land for their longer–term benefit. In 2018, we celebrated the 400th anniversary of that gift – from which was to come so much more.
In our 400th year, we wanted to celebrate the diversity of our area of benefit and its rich cultural heritage which makes it so distinctive and so vibrant. To do that, we held a series of ‘enigma lunches’. Each one shone a spotlight on one of the specific communities within our area. At these lunches we relaunched a publication first made in the 1980s recounting the memories of migrants to Hammersmith from that area. We also brought that community together with others to see what spontaneous conversation we might achieve; and we used the arts to get the conversation going.
Our second objective was to celebrate talent and enthusiasm wherever it might lie. Under the banner of the Festival of Joy, we supported the borough’s first disability arts festival in partnership with Hammersmith and Fulham Arts fest and Turtlekey arts and the Lyric as well as many other local organisations, including sponsors Stanhope.
We also commissioned a new piece of dance from DanceWest to be performed by an older peoples’ dance company which was shared at our main celebratory event on 6 July. We focused on the joy of our gardens with a special ‘gardeners’ question time’ event and we brought some joy to local groups with an additional £50k in the grants budget.
The crowning point of the 400 year celebrations was the launch of UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham, a new organisation that inspires and helps fund activities that promote a strong sense of togetherness in our diverse London borough. UNITED was set up by Hammersmith United Charities and its sister charity in Fulham, Dr Edwards and Bishop King’s charity, in the spirit of local philanthropy which brought the two founding charities into being 400 years ago.