• Always start with “In the case of Re Endacott 1960 Ch 232 it was held that a gift in a will to a parish council “for the purpose of providing some useful memorial to myself” is not a good charitable gift.

Facts of the Case

  • A testator gave his residuary estate to the North Tawton Parish Council “for the purposes of providing some useful memorial to myself”.
  • The £20,000 in question given to the council was held at first instance by Danckwerts J. to not be a good charitable gift.
  • The council appealed.

Issues in Re Endacott 1960 Ch 232

  • Whether the gift would fail or succeed to be classified as a gift.

Held by Court of Appeal

  • Appeal dismissed

Harman LJ

  • The appeal was dismissed on the grounds that as a matter of construction, the bequest was not an out and out bequest to the parish council and the words ‘for the purpose of providing some useful memorial to myself” imposed an obligation in the nature of a trust.
  • The nature of a parish council’s activates was not so clearly defined as being of  charitable character as to impose a charitable limitation on the words of the gift and that the power of local authority under section 268 of the Local Government Act 1933, to accept a gift for “any local purpose” was not, in its context, confined to charitable purposes, nor were the powers of local authorities under section 4(1) of the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937, by section 1 of the Recreational Charities Act 1958, limited to charitable activities.
  • “A gift for public purposes in the parish of North Tawton, a gift for patriotic purposes, a gift for benevolent purposes, are all, as we all know, universally now held to be bad. How, then, shall it be held that a gift for useful purposes is good without upsetting the whole structure so- elaborately built up and, one had hoped after Diplock’s case,27 so firmly established? I cannot think that charity has anything to do with this bequest. As for establishing it without the crutch of charity, I applaud the orthodox sentiments expressed by Eoxburgh J. in the Astor case,28 and I think, as I think he did, that though one knows there have been decisions at times which are not really to be satisfactorily classified, but are perhaps merely occasions when Homer has nodded, at any rate these cases stand by themselves and ought not to be increased in number, nor indeed followed, except where the one is exactly like another. Whether it would be better that some authority now should say those cases were wrong, this perhaps is not the moment to consider. At any rate, I cannot think a case of this kind, the case of providing outside a church an unspecified and unidentified memorial, is the kind of instance which should be allowed to add to those troublesome, anomalous, and aberrant cases. In my judgment, Danckwerts J. came to the right conclusion, and this appeal ought to be dismissed.”  P.250-251