History of the Thomas Alexander Mason Trust
Thomas Alexander Mason was born in Southwark in 1859. Actually he was born as Thomas Alexander Bear but changed his name to Mason by deed poll when he was 29. He inherited a successful family tobacco business which he sold to British American Tobacco at the end of the first world war. For many years he lived in Reigate, and died at the age of 90. He was a solitary man and a private benefactor, often buying plots of land and giving them to charities.
In 1926 he bought an acre of land in the centre of the village of Lowfield Heath “for the purpose of a recreation ground and open space”. There is no record of why he made this gift. At that time Lowfield Heath was part of the Parish of Charlwood and the Charlwood Parish Council became the Trustee for the land.
In the 1970’s much of the village of Lowfield Heath was demolished due to the noise from Gatwick Airport, leaving just the church and the windmill. The 1973 boundary changes transferred Lowfield Heath to Crawley, but the Charity Commission ruled that the land should remain under the trusteeship of Charlwood Parish Council.
During the following eight years the ground became disused and overgrown and eventually planning permission was obtained for development.
In November 1981 the land was sold for £490,000. After guidance and direction from the Charity Commission as to who should have responsibility for safeguarding this large sum for the Parish, a new charitable trust was set up named after the original donor. The Trust, which came into existence in January 1983, was "for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Parish of Charlwood", with the boundaries as they were in 1926 when Thomas Mason made his gift.
Thomas Alexander Mason 1859 – 1949