Walter Bigg was born in Wallingford in 1605. He was apprenticed to a relative in London and became a Merchant Taylor. Bigg prospered in London and acquired land around St Giles in the Fields. During the Civil War, he fought with Parliament and took part in the siege of Basing House.
By 1646 he had become a liveryman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company and by 1653 he was on the Court of the Company, had become an alderman and was serving as a Sheriff. The following summer, he was elected Master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company.
In 1658 Bigg moved back to Wallingford, leaving his property in St Giles to finance a school in his home town. With these funds, six poor boys were able to be educated free of charge. In the early years, the Merchant Taylors’ Company provided £10 a year towards the schoolmaster’s salary.
The Walter Bigg Foundation today
The Foundation’s funds were obtained from the proceeds of the sale of part of Wallingford School’s upper site.
The Trustees regularly consider opportunities to invest the capital in property to benefit Wallingford School. Income arising from the Foundation’s investments is, as a first priority, applied to providing items, services and facilities for the School. As a second priority, the Foundation aims to promote education (including instruction in the doctrines of the Church of England and social and physical training) for young persons aged 11-25 residing in Wallingford.
Trustees work closely with Wallingford School and also assess requests for funding in connection with young people residing in Wallingford.
The Walter Bigg Foundation is now managed operationally by Merchant Taylors’ Company Charities Management.
Note: The image above shows part of a 1932 Kruger Gray design for a stained glass window commissioned by the Merchant Taylors’ Company for its Hall in London. The window was destroyed during the Second World War, but the design remains in the Company’s archives.