Re Pinion, deceased ; Westminster Bank Ltd v Pinion

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
Judgment Date28 February 1964
Judgment citation (vLex)[1964] EWCA Civ J0228-2
Date28 February 1964

[1964] EWCA Civ J0228-2

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

(From: Mr. Justice Wilberforce)


Lord Justice Harman

Lord Justice Davies and

Lord Justice Rossell

In the Matter of the Estate of Arthur Watson Hyde Pinion Deceased

Westminster Bank Limited
Edith May Pinion (Spinster) and
Her Majesty's Attorney-General

Mr. H. E. FRANCIS, Q. C. and Mr. G. T. HESKETH (instructed by Messrs. Scadding & Bodkin) appeared on behalf of the Appellant (First Defendant).

Mr. B. J. H. CLAUSON (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the Respondent the Second Defendant.

Mr. A. J. BALCOMBE (instructed by Messrs. Scadding & Bodkin) appeared on behalf of the Respondents the Plaintiffs.


This appeal concerns the testamentary dispositions of Arthur Watson Hyde Pinion, who died in the year 1961 having by his Will made in 1956 as varied by a codicil made in 1961 sought to devote almost the whole of his not inconsiderable estate to a project designed to keep himself and his family for all time before the public eye by allowing the public to view without cost his studio situate at 22a Pembridge Villas, Notting Hill, intact with its entire contents. These treasures are to be entrusted to a custodian, first his sister and subsequently a blood relation of his, who are to be paid and housed out of his estate. The question is whether he was entitled to saddle his property with this chimaera to the deprivation of his next-of-kin and this the judge has held he was entitled to do at the instance of the Attorney-General, who persuaded him, though hardly, that the testator has created a valid charitable trust.


The will and codicil are rambling and half coherent documents reduced to some semblance of order by the judge but his summary is, I think, perhaps too heat and logical and the actual words should be read to convey its authentic flavour. It starts by conferring a life interest in the whole estate on his sister, the first defendant, who is also his sole next-of-kin, and proceeds:


"…and afterwards to my Trustees to offer my Freehold Studio 22a Pembridge Villas London W. ll to the Rational Trust with the pictures painted by myself and others, and my collection of antique furniture to be kept intact in the said Studio and shown at an appointed time by the National Trust in a similar way to their other properties and the income from my real and personal estate to be applied for the upkeep and maintenance of the said Studio and its contents with an income to be paid to a Custodian sufficient to make it worth their while my sister Edith Kay Pinion to be the first Custodian and after her life to be offered the custodianship with the income attached to any blood relations of mine or as long as they wish to hold the"same with the use of a Plat in my freehold house No. 64 St. Stephens Gardens London W.2. The relations to whom this offer applies for custodianship are any descendant of my cousin Gilbert Whitbourn and my cousin Maud Prince. If any of these are not interested in this then my Trustees to appoint a custodian approved by the National Trust Also my Trustees to appoint some other body or Society to carry out the bequest in the event of the refusal of the National Trust to accept the conditions if they are unable or do not wish to carry it out themselves. Having obtained a scholarship at the Patrick Allan Fraser College of Arts at Hospitalfield, Arbroath, Angus in 1902 after four years tuition. The paintings done thereby by myself and afterwards now in my Studio may be considered to have sufficient merit for preservation along with my copies of portraits of the Hyde Family to be kept together with the original portrait of Edward Hyde First Earl of Clarendon by Lely and the early 17th Century portrait of Hamnet Hyde, both of which formerly hung in Hyde Hall, Hyde, Cheshire and mentioned in Eurwakers East Cheshire. Also the two portraits of myself painted at Hospitalfield and of old Mrs. Kunro of the Abbey House, Arbroath, and the portrait I painted of George Herbert Hyde Villiers, Eiarl of Clarendon, K. G., G. C. ivi. G., G. C. V. O. when he was Lord Hyde in 1911. Also the portrait of his Grandmother, Caroline, Dowager Countess of Normanton, exhibited in the fioyal Academy and the painting of a Cardinal, also exhibited in the Royal Academy 1909. Among the furniture I particularly wish to be retained along with my pictures in the Studio are the three needlework chairs 1730-40 done by Penelope Hyde, and the card table en suite formerly in Hyde House, Hyde, Cheshire, and the carved oak chairs with initials I. H. R. H. 1676 formerly in Hyde Hall, Denton, and handed down through each generation to myself. Also I wish to be retained the silver tea and coffee service with Hyde Crest formerly belonging to our Grandmother Ann Watson also the silver cream jug with her maiden name initials A. B. on also the silver cup won by our father William Henry Pinion Also the Cabinet." containing collection of old china, ivories and miniatures etc. Any goods and chattels not of an antique nature can be disposed of by my Trustees or removed to a vacant flat for the custodian at 64 St. Stephens Gardens W.2 when vacant possession of one can be obtained.…" So much for the will.


By the codicil the testator revoked the life estate of his sister, gave her an annuity, and continued: "Whereas by my will I have bequeathed my freehold Studio 22a Pembridge Villas in the County of London where I have lived since June 1907 and its contents and the pictures painted by myself, the collection of antique furniture, silver, porcelain and other objects of art to the National Trust along with the endowment of my Estate to maintain the same intact in the aforesaid Studio but REVOKE this bequest if the National Trust are not willing to accept and carry out these conditions and instead authorise my Executors The West-Minster Bank to appoint a Trust who will do so in a small way similar to that of the Soane Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields". Then there is another passage which I need not read and he goes on: "Along with the pictures by myself I wish to be kept in my Studio all the portraits of Edward Hyde, Eirst Earl of Clarendon by Lely and Hamnet Hyde formerly In Hyde Hall, Hyde, Cheshire Ky Grandfather and Grandmother James Lowe Watson and Ann Watson and Jonathan Benison"


I construe this farrago as meaning that the entire contents of the studio, which housed all the articles referred to, are to be exhibited as a whole and, as he says, "to be kept intact in the Studio". The only exception is that articles "not of an antique nature" may be disposed of. I assume that the revocation of the sister's life interest accelerated the gift to the National Trust, which has refused the bequest, and that the authority to his executors to appoint a trust to carry out the "bequest is in fact mandatory, the contrary not having been argued.


In this court the Attorney-General did not seek to support the gift as being beneficial in a general sense to the public, but confined his plea to that head of charity which ischaracterised as the advancement of education. He argued both here and below that no evidence was receivable on this subject. A museum, he said, is a place which the law assumes to have an educational value and purpose. The cases on this subject to be found in Tudor are not very satisfactory. It would appear that a gift to an established museum is charitable: see ( British Museum Trustees v. White 2 Simons & Stuart page 594): in re Holburne (53 Law Times page 202) a gift to trustees of objects of art to form an art museum in Bath open to the public and, a fund to endow it was held a valid charitable gift as being of public utility or benefit. No question was there raised as to the merit of the collection. It must have been agreed that such merit existed, for everyone assumed it, including the judge. I conclude that a gift to found a public museum may be assumed to be charitable as of public utility if no one questions it. So in a case about religion such as the case about Joanna Southcott in 31 Beavan the court will assume without enquiry that the teaching may do some good if not shown to be subversive of morality. Where the object is to found a school the court will not study the methods of education provided that on the face of then, they are proper:...

To continue reading

Request your trial
6 cases
  • Scottish Burial Reform and Cremation Society Ltd v Glasgow Corporation
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 26 July 1967
    ...VII, cap. 8. Reference was made to secs. 3 and 4. 10 15 and 16 Geo. VI and 1 Eliz. II, cap. 31. 11 Reference was made to In re Pinion, [1965] Ch. 85, Wilberforce J. at p. 92, Harman L.J. at pp. 105–106, Davies L.J. at p. 107, Russell L.J. at p. 12 55 and 56 Vict. cap. 11. 13 [1955] A. C. 57......
  • Glasgow Trades House v Inland Revenue
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Session (Inner House - First Division)
    • 11 December 1969
    ...A.C. 631. 10 Inland Revenue v. Glasgow Police Athletic AssociationSC, 1953 S.C. (H.L.) 13, Lord Normand at p. 23;In re Pinion, decd., [1965] Ch. 85, Harman L.J. at p. 11 In re Verrall, [1916] 1 Ch. 100; In re Cranstoun, [1932] 1 Ch. 537. 12 Royal College of Surgeons of England v. National P......
  • Burge v Swarbrick
    • Australia
    • High Court
    • 26 April 2007
    ...vol 2, §8A.13-§8A.21. 81 cf Attorney-General v Trustees of National Art Gallery of NSW (1944) 62 WN (NSW) 212; In re Pinion dec'd [1965] Ch 85; Picarda, The Law and Practice Relating to Charities, 3rd ed (1999) at 61–62; Cowen, ‘An Artist in the Courts of Law’, (1945) 19 Australian Law Jour......
  • R v Gerrard Francis Luttrell ; R v Dawson and Hamburger
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 28 May 2004 evidence, although the discipline is not susceptible to this sort of scientific discipline. Thus, in In re Pinion decd., [1965] Ch 85 the court was willing, indeed felt obliged, to hear expert evidence on the question whether a collection of paintings and other objects had aesthetic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT