The seeds of the Becket Trust were sown in the late 1960’s when a young Penshurst cricket captain married a girl from Leigh, the next village. The couple moved to Leigh because they could not afford to live in Penshurst. The captain defected to Leigh, who promptly beat Penshurst at their next match.
Penshurst’s rector, the Reverend Tony Curry and the village doctor, Dr Arthur Wood agreed that homes were needed for young villagers who could not afford to stay in the village where they had grown up. With the help of local lawyer Tim Burrows, a field was leased from the church, and in 1970 a charity was formed with local trustees to provide affordable rental accommodation for people with strong family ties to Penshurst.
1970 was the 800th anniversary of Penshurst church, and the induction of the first rector of Penshurst by Thomas a Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1170 (two days before he was murdered on the steps of Canterbury cathedral). To remember the association between the new homes and the origins of Penshurst church, the field was named Becket’s Field, and the charity the Becket Trust.
Six houses were completed in 1974 on church land; the Trust was later able to purchase an adjacent site and two more houses were completed in 2004. In 2010 the Trust was able to purchase the freehold of Becket’s Field from the Diocese of Rochester, so that it could continue its role in perpetuity. The Trust continues to improve and refurbish its houses.
The Becket Trust houses have always been fully occupied and our tenants rarely leave. When a vacancy occurs, we advertise locally and receive applications from many suitable candidates; it is increasingly difficult to select those most in need. The Trust is keen to provide more houses to help ease the shortage of affordable homes in Penshurst. Local landowners with possible sites are urged to contact the Trust.