43 Fern Road Storrington Pulborough West Sussex RH20 4LW

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Founder: Dr. John Borthwick Gilchrist (1759-1841). During medical service with the East India Company, Dr. Gilchrist developed an interest in oriental languages which was to become a motivating force in his life. Obtaining leave of absence, he lived among the local population until he had acquired a good colloquial knowledge of Hindustani and then wrote a grammar and dictionary, believed to be the first of their kind. After resigning his medical post, he became successively Professor of Oriental Languages at the Marquis of Wellesley’s College, Calcutta , Lecturer on Oriental Languages and Literature in London and Edinburgh and Professor of Hindustani at University College , London . He was also an ardent promoter of popular education and worked with Dr. Birkbeck in establishing the London Mechanics Institution (later Birkbeck College ); he was associated with Hume and other prominent men of the time in establishing University College in 1826 and also took a leading part in the establishment of the London Oriental Institution.

Under the terms of his Will, Dr. Gilchrist left the residue of his estate to the Trustees “for the benefit advancement and propagation of education and learning in every part of the world as far as circumstances will permit’.’ Partly because of the long litigation which followed his death, and which culminated in a Hearing before the House of Lords in 1858, the educational trust thus founded could not start its work until 1865.

The principle which guided the Trustees in the administration of the funds under their control was that of doing pioneering work, such as seeking to fill up educational gaps; making some provision for the educational needs of classes of persons not already provided for; aiding new educational movements, experimental in character but giving promise of valuable results which, for lack of public support at their initiation, needed financial help to enable them to grow in strength. They began by establishing scholarships to bring natives of India to England for a University education that would fit them to undertake public work on their return. These, later taken over by the Government of India, were followed by similar scholarships in the (then) Colonies which were, in turn, taken over by the appropriate authorities. There followed scholarships in England for women at the time when Women’s Colleges were being established.

The Trust is perhaps best known for its establishment of the Gilchrist Lecturers, 1867-1939, which were given in industrial communities by eminent men and were attended by many thousands of people. After the Lectures began, the University Extension movement started to develop; the Trust worked in close association with it and, later, with the Workers’ Educational Association.

Since its inception, the Trust has been fortunate to have as Trustees men and women prominent in the field of education or in public life.  

Registered Charity No. 313877