David Varchell is an important local figure as a philanthropist who was concerned for the education and well being of the poor, particularly children.
In 1703, David Varchell gave to trustees his house called ‘The Chequers’ in Gravesend, on the site of 84 High Street (let at £95 pa with four messuages in East Street let for £122 pa, consisting of the ‘Amsterdam’ and other property). This income was to pay £20 pa to the master of the Free School, forever, to learn and teach, gratis, 20 poor boys. Ten of these boys to be selected from the parish of Gravesend by the churchwardens and parishioners (to be agreed on at a vestry of the said parish) and the other 10 boys from the parish of Milton by the churchwardens. Also £3 pa to be paid to the poor and others of Gravesend on the Sunday before Christmas in every year, for ever, in proportions including: to 40 poor people in money and bread one shilling each and 20 shillings for a sermon, candles, etc.
After paying these sums, the repairs of the premises and the expenses of the trustees then what money should be left is to be laid out in the month of October, yearly, for ever, to buy such clothes for the said 20 boys in the first place and in the next place if any surplus shall be for such and so many other poor people in the said parishes of Gravesend and Milton aforesaid as the church wardens and parishioners of both the said parishes for the time being shall think fit.
There is a plaque in the fort gardens, adjacent to the chantry, commemorating the 300th anniversary of the David Varchell Charity. Although various Education Acts have largely met the Charity’s original aims it still provides small amounts of money that are given to, and distributed by, Gravesend and Milton Parish Churches.