The Crayle Sermon is preached at St Mary Acton every year; currently at the annual Civic Service attended by the Mayor and Councillors. 'Charities belonging to the Parish of Acton Middlesex’ written by Rector CM Harvey in 1887 gives information about the Crayle sisters, their bequests and the origins of the sermon:
Mrs Sarah Crayle’s Gift
Mrs Sarah Crayle, in 1730, bequeathed £300, to be laid out in the purchase of land, so that the clear yearly rents and profits thereof might be paid to and applied by the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Parish of Acton, as follows:
40 shillings to the Rector or Minister for a sermon on the 2nd day of February, if a Sunday, otherwise on the Sunday next following: £6 to be expended between Michaelmas and Lady-day in bread, which shall be placed in the church every Sunday, and distributed, after Sermon, by the Minister, Church-wardens and Overseers, to poor inhabitants not receiving alms of the Parish: and the residue of the yearly rents and profits, to be distributed by them, at Michaelmas and Lady-day, also to poor inhabitants not receiving alms of the Parish.
The residue, after payments have been made to the Minister and for the bread, is now carried to the Clothing fund.
Mrs Ann Crayle’s Gift
Mrs Ann Crayle, in 1759, bequeathed £700, 3 per cent consols, the dividends whereof were to be paid to the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Parish of Acton for the following uses,
viz:-to pay 40 shillings to the Rector for a Sermon, on the 29th day of December, if a Sunday, otherwise, on the Sunday next following; 10s to the Reader; 5s each to the Clerk and Sexton, and 40s, yearly for a Dinner for the Trustees and Officers of the Parish :-also to expend £12 3s in buying Clothing for such six poor men and six poor women, inhabitants of the said Parish, not receiving alms from the said Parish, as the Minister, Churchwardens and Overseers should think proper; but that no poor person should have the benefit of the clothing two years in succession, and to lay out the residue in coals to be distributed on the 29th day of December yearly, to poor inhabitants not receiving alms as aforesaid.
No part of this gift is now spent in coals, but the whole residue, after the payments to the Rector, Reader, Clerk, Sexton and Parish Officers, is carried to the Clothing fund.
The money now stands in the names of the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds who transmit the dividends half-yearly to Local Trustees.
In modern times the preacher of the Crayle Sermon is now presented with a payment of £5; the remainder of the Crayle bequests are held, with other ancient bequests, and distributed by the Acton (Middlesex) Charities.