Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Time for Reform: A Church for The Village


From its earliest beginnings Eton Wick had been dependent upon Eton with seemingly few amenities to offer its inhabitants apart from the countryside and the village inn. Very early in the nineteenth century, however, a new influence reached the village in the energetic form of George Bedford. Much of the story can only be guessed. It is known that his father became the first resident minister of the thriving Congregationalist Church at Windsor in 1804. Very soon afterwards George started a Sunday School in the town and two years later one at Chalvey. Others were begun at Winkfield, Langley and Eton Wick; teachers were supplied from Windsor and services were conducted in a cottage or barn - whatever was offered. This did not merely bring to the village Christian teaching and a chance to worship without travelling to Eton or a neighbouring village, but an opportunity also to hear about new ideas and codes of behaviour and even to learn to read. Like other Sunday Schools of the time, the one at Eton Wick would have taught reading to the children, and it is possible, as at Chalvey, that classes for adults were held in the evenings.  

In 1833 it appears that the Sunday School with its forty-six pupils was meeting on the Boveney side of the boundary and probably attracted children from both Boveney and Eton Wick. Unfortunately, however, there were difficult times ahead; in the late 1840s the Windsor Church became split and seemingly unable to look after the village meetings and Sunday Schools; for a time, Eton Wick came under the wing of William Knight of the Chalvey Congregationalist Chapel. The Sunday School was closed though services continued to be held in a barn, probably one belonging to Manor Farm; for at this date the tenant farmer, George Lillywhite, was a member of the Chalvey Chapel.  There is also a tradition that the cottage next to the farmhouse was once used for worship. Twenty-five people attended the services on 'Census Sunday' in 1851. Later services seem to have been held in one of the Bell Farm Cottages, for in the 1861 Census Schedules there is an intriguing entry on the line between that relating to these cottages and the Shepherd's Hut which simply says 'chapel of ease'. Then in the mid-1870s the meetings were held in an Iron Room or 'tin chapel', specially built for the purpose which is thought to have stood between Clifton Cottages and the common.

The nineteenth century is often called a century of reform and both church and government were affected by, and affected, the times.  The Evangelical movement within the churches and chapels generated much of the enthusiasm and crusading spirit that brought about the expansion of the Congregational Church It also brought the Wesleyan Methodists into the village in the late 1820s, and in time affected the Church of England in Eton. This did not happen until after 1831 when two new masters came to Eton College.  One of these, Henry Harper, became a conduct (or chaplain) under the Headmaster, Dr Hawtrey, who was responsible for improving conditions within the College. Through his enthusiasm services were made more interesting and instructive, the poor were visited and in 1840 a schoolroom was built at Eton Wick.  It was quite a small, brick building, only one room 29 by 21 feet, though large enough for all the children of the village should they attend.  It was built on land which had been part of the garden of the Greyhound. Today the site is occupied by the Post Office, and pieces of school slates are still being dug from its garden.

This was not the first school in the village; a dame school with twenty children was reported in a survey of 1816, but undoubtedly it was short-lived and of poor standard. Many such dame schools were nothing more than childminding agents, overcrowded and badly looked after. The school built in 1840 had much higher aims; the mistress probably received some training and was appointed by the parish; its finances were in the hands of a treasurer. The villagers responded by sending their children to school, finding the necessary weekly penny and two pence per child from their meagre resources. (Schooling was not free until 1890). The 1851 Census data show that over two thirds of the children aged between four and fourteen and even a few younger ones went to school: this was well above the national average. In 1857 the ladies of Eton subscribed so that a Ladies' Class could be established at the school. Four privileged girls were educated and clothed free until they were fifteen and then found good places in service. A night school was begun for adults and in many years about twenty people enrolled, though few stayed the session.

Once the College was awake to its spiritual and pastoral responsibilities in the parish the presence of the Congregationalists in the village suddenly became unwelcome, or so it would seem from the contents of two letters sent to the Bishop of Lincoln in February 1841. (Buckinghamshire was in the Lincoln diocese until 1847). The letters asked if the newly built schoolroom could be licensed for divine services 'in   order to counteract the evil practices of the Dissenters' who met in a barn in the village.  No mention was made that they had been holding services in Eton Wick for nearly forty years!  In May the licence was granted and from then on services were held each Sunday evening by one of the conducts and a Sunday School each afternoon. On 'Census Sunday' in 1851 eighty people attended the service and twenty-eight children the Sunday School.

For fifteen years the schoolroom served the village quite adequately as a church, but the increase in the numbers of houses in the 1860s made it far too small. In 1865 the first steps were taken to build a church in the village. A meeting was held with the Provost in the chair and soon afterwards a Subscription List was begun.  Not   unexpectedly most of the money was contributed by the town and College, but over seventy of the eighty households in the village made their contribution, and if many had to be made as weekly sums of a few pence, it must be remembered that weekly wages of many of the men can have been no more than ten shillings.  Queen Victoria gave £100 and the site, a corner of Sheepcote Field. In August 1866 the foundation stone was laid by Provost Goodford and by the middle of the next year the church had been consecrated and dedicated to St John the Baptist.


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

The Story of Oliver James Stannett in his own word - Part Two

Not long after moving to Eton Wick I was eight years old. My eldest sister Florence was married to Jack Emery who had just come home from India and was demobbed from the army. I have never forgotten it because I was left out. You see I had no clothes, in fact, I was in rags, and if I remember correctly I had old plimsolls on. Being a small house the place was crowded with people. This was at 11, Castle View Terrace, close to Dorney Common. "Klondyke" we called it.

I got fed up with playing in the garden so I went indoors but was soon sent out again because of the state I was in. All that I had an eye for were the blancmanges and jellies on the table. I remember Mum and Ethel grabbing hold of me and telling me to stop in the garden and when it was all over they would put some by for me. I was satisfied with that and played in the garden watching until they all went. Then I went straight indoors to have a feed as I had been outside all day but all I saw was a pile of empty plates and dishes ready for washing-up. Mum and Ethel said that I had been out of sight and out of mind they had forgotten all about me. I don't remember what they gave me or if they had anything left to give. That was my first taste of weddings and after that, I made a point of cleaning out the saucepans after use. It is a thing that I have done ever since even at my own wedding.

Soon after that, we moved to Clifton Cottages at the other end of the village and that is where I first met Mum's family. After that, we always played together.

When I was nine years old we had a P.C. Pheasant as constable of the village and no way did he like the Stannett family. Of course, it may have been us kiddies, we used to play pranks on people.

There were no lights along the Eton Wick Road and it was always dark when we came out of school at Eton. There was a road at the side of us called The Walk. It was a private road. Then, because it was the first of May, all the cattle from the farms were let loose on the common. A rope had to be tied across the top of The Walk by law. My grandfather who looked after it all day from 8 am to 9 pm received one shilling for keeping the traffic off the road for the day.

At the side of The Walk was a grocer's shop, a paper shop and a sweet shop. I was helping Dad cut wood for kindling which would be sold. I asked John Brewer, my pal and Mum's brother, to fetch a long piece of string to go across the top of The Walk. I tied this to a bundle of wood which I placed on the path. The women always wore aprons in those days for groceries etc. When coming out of the shop they would pick up the wood and put it in their aprons. We would let them walk a few yards then pull it out. One or two would drop all their groceries so the women complained to P. C. Pheasant who, of course, had to come round to the Brewers and the Stannetts. He had a strong suspicion that it was us. Round about that time he was always threatening Dad, I heard him say that he would get him one day.

I must tell you about the time we had nothing in the house. I was ten years old. George, Sydney and I used to go around the hedges of the fields to catch birds roosting. George and Syd used catapults so as not to make a noise. It was surprising how many birds we caught. I went along to carry them home and didn't we have some lovely feeds.

At that time I was chopping wood for Dad. Mr. Bunce, who was a small dairy farmer, came to see Dad to ask him if he would empty a few cesspits for him at £5 a time. They were overflowing and because of the complaints he had to get someone quickly so he asked Dad who said, " Yes, just the job to make a few *shillings!”

Dad had a tank which was used to take sludge to the allotments from the pigsties. So he asked me if I would help him including holding the horse's head. It was a chance for me to stop up a bit later so I did. Dad told all the neighbours so they shut all their windows because of the smell floating about. We had four to do, two that night and two the next.

The difficulty was that they were situated near houses. Bunce supplied my Dad with a fifteen-foot pole with a bucket on the end and a shorter pole with a scoop on the end.

It was a long time since they had been cleaned. When one took the cover off it could be seen that the sludge was a foot thick and sometimes more. So we had to use the scoop before the bucket. It only took an hour. We emptied the tank three times for each cesspit taking the loads to the allotments.

The next night Bunce came round to see how we were getting on. "Alright." I said, "but it don't half make your hair grow." Of course, Dad and Bunce saw the funny side and burst out laughing.

Then we found out why Bunce had come. He wanted Dad to get into the cesspit with a crowbar and make a few holes in the bottom so that more water would drain away. Dad replied, "What do you take me for! If I did that in time I would have to dig it all out." "I suggest you get down and do it yourself."

We did them for another six months then we lost the job. I said to Dad that it seemed as if he had got somebody to make the holes for him. 

This is an extract from the autobiography written by Oliver James Stannett (1903 - 1988) and republished here with the kind permission of his relatives who still live in Eton Wick.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Eton Wick Newsletter: Our Village December 2010


The Way Things Were — Schooling 

Eton Wick was without a purpose-built school until 1840, when a single room brick building was opened in the village at today's junction of The Walk and the main road. It measured 29' x 21' and although small was adequate for the population of that time. Some children and adults were previously taught to write and read by the church on perhaps a one day a week irregular basis, but with no village church until 1866 it would have meant using a farm building or private house. The 1840 school was a great advance but schooling was not compulsory until 35 years later. Also, it was not free until 1890 and the weekly fee of 1 or 2 pence would certainly have been a deterrent in the large families of the time. A census of 1851 suggests that about two-thirds of village children were attending the school and this was as good, or better, than the national average. 

Those really early teachers were probably without adequate training and ability, but at least a great step forward. It does not mean that the children of that era were ill-equipped educationally. They understood nature, the crops and most things rural in a way beyond today's laptop generations achieve. Apprenticeships catered for the top lads, and the indentures were comprehensive, often requiring the boy to live with his master's family for five years, to remain unmarried, and to promise to observe secrecy of all the trade practices he would come in contact with. 

For years schooling instilled discipline; "the three R's" and of course religious instructions, termed as 'scripture'. Most schools were Church of England or Roman Catholic and in consequence, the curriculum was very much influenced by the churches. Boys attended infant school at Eton Wick until about 7 years old then went to Eton Porny School. Girls could, and mostly did, complete their education at the village school until 1940. 'Porny' school was at least one mile from the village homes and for many years there was no bus service and certainly no school meals available. Long walks.in all weathers was particularly hard for the younger age group, having to walk to Eton for a 9 o'clock start, home at 12 o'clock and back to school for 2 o'clock and then home at 4 o'clock. My Father did just that in the 1890s, but fortunately with a bus service from 1922 I was given one penny for the bus fare home at 12 o'clock and so had just three walks a day. In summertime, we were able to walk home after school, along the Great Common, or occasionally along the South Field's track. This certainly widened our knowledge of plants, hedgerows and birds, besides understanding the seasons and farm crops. Wet days were a problem as few had good waterproofs or spare footwear; and nylon, of course, had not yet been invented. 

In the 1930s Porny School started the day with scripture, then maths; writing; English; poetry; drawing; singing — usually old English folksongs — P.T. or games and woodwork for older boys. Woodwork necessitated a coach ride once a week to Cippenham. Also, for older boys vegetable allotments and swimming instruction in the Eton Town Bathing Place. This was in Cuckoo Weir with Eton College using the area now known as the Swan Sanctuary, and the town bathing immediately next to the college. As this was downstream of the college area, we often mused we were bathing in their dirty water. 

Very few cycled to school, perhaps for no better reason than few owned a bike for personal use. There was another service from the Eton school that I thought was out of the ordinary: they organised a Clothing Club whereby pupils could pay into the club in units of one shilling, on school Mondays. My closest of four brothers and I each paid in a weekly shilling. With about 45 school Mondays this amounted to £4 — 10 shilling (£4.50) total in the year. With a choice of a few participating clothing shops, my Mother always opted for `Cranes' of Oxford Road, Windsor. The year ended in late summer, and annually on a dark and wintry evening Mother and her five boys walked to town and more than filled Mr Crane's little shop. I remember him as always kind and unruffled but he would not have been normal if he had not been glad to see us leave on the long trek home. 

In 1940 a larger, modern school was opened in Ragstone Road, Chalvey and that brought many changes. Pupils would now stay at Eton Wick School until 11 years old, at which age there they were transported to Ragstone Road. The Eton Porny pupils did likewise. By this time there was an influx of children evacuated from London and housed in local homes. School teachers had also come from London and besides affecting the local classrooms they also used the village hall as their school. Many evacuees stayed, but others gradually returned to their homes. In 1941 two incendiary bombs fell through the school roof, but many more straddled the Sheepcote Road allotments on what is now the Sheepcote flats (immediately behind the school). In 1944 the school leaving age was raised to 15 years and in 1972 to 16 years.

In 1965 a small village class was taught in the village hall due to accommodation shortage. The post-war village was growing rapidly. In 1953 a new classroom was built, this was followed by further extensions in 1959. Yet more extensions followed between 1962 and 1974 with provision for science and cooking. The school P.T.A. provided a heated swimming pool in 1962. For many years after the 1939 — 1945 war, Eton Wick school children were marched daily to the village hall for school meals. 

So many changes over the years, but if schools are judged by results the biggest change came in 1955 with the appointment of the village's first headmaster. Vernon Moss stayed here 21 years and it was like somebody drawing back the curtains, opening all the windows and letting light flood in. 

Frank Bond 

The complete Our Village Collection can be found here. The Eton Wick History Group republish Our Village with the kind permission of publishers, the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee. 

Our collection of articles about schools can be found here: School.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Clifton House

Clifton House
Like many houses on this section of the Eton Wick Road, Clifton House was built on land formerly belonging to houses and smallholdings that faced on to the common (now Common Road). The Greyhound public house is at the Common Road end of the original plot, with houses (along The Walk) built in between.

In 1840 the first village school stood on the site. When the present school was opened in Sheepcote Road in 1888, the building was used as the Village Institute. In 1902 Pratts of Eton and Windsor built the present building, selling paints and hardware (as advertised on their large hoarding on the wall outside, which was still legible nearly one hundred years later). From 1908 to 1913, the period when this photograph was taken, Ernie Harman ran the stores. The Post Office transferred here from Lovell's Stores about this time also. The Harmans came to Eton Wick in 1908. By then Lovell was a well-established village family name, and descendants of both families are still in the village.

The shop is probably most remembered as Chantler's Grocery shop. Mr. Chantler (senior) came to the Wick in 1929. His son Harry ran the shop from the time of his father's death in 1932 until he retired in 1973. It finally closed as a shop in 1986 and became entirely residential.

Harry was a popular and helpful community man, serving on several village committees and always happy to make deliveries, particularly important in the days of few cars. During WWII the back of the shop was reinforced and used as the Air Raid Precaution Office for the eastern end of the village, probably because the shop had one of the four telephones in the village in the 1930s. Harry was an air raid warden and supplied and fitted gas masks for most of the villagers. An air raid shelter was just across The Walk road, in front of Joan Taylor's shop.

The last shopkeepers in Clifton House were Mr. and Mrs. Winters, who eventually closed the shop around 1986, and converted the building into flats. The name 'Clifton' has passed to the Senior Citizens residence, Clifton Lodge, constructed adjacent to the shop in the 1970s.
Faded sign on Clifton House

Durable advert 



This sign, on the side of Clifton House, almost certainly dates back to c1904 when Pratts ran the shop. It is just readable, nearly 100 years later. 

It reads: General Stores, Oils, Colors, Varnish, Putty, Whitening, Size. Turps, Methylated Spirits, Ready Mixed Paints, Paper Hangings. 

It was used for many years as a shop hoarding with posters pasted over it. The confused lettering at the top may be due to Pratts name being changed to the next proprietors, the Harmans in 1913. Below the board, there used to be for some 60 years a ladder, for use in the event of a village fire emergency. For some of this period, there was also a fire hose here. 

This is an extract from A Photographic History of Eton Wick and Eton published by the Eton Wick History Group in 2000.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Trade and Commerce Grows in the Late 19th Century

Eton Wick at the end of the nineteenth century was a very different place from that at the beginning, and not just in terms of bricks and its population had risen from about a hundred people to well over eight times this. Many new families had moved into the village - none of the surnames recorded in the early parish registers as belonging to Eton Wick (1640s-1740s) was there a hundred years later. The first house-to-house census was taken in 1841 and the Enumerators' Schedules Books for this and the following three census years give the names and many other details of everyone living in the village at those dates. Several names found in the books are still familiar today - Ayres, Benham, Cooley, Deverill, Hammerton, Miles, Newell, Paice, Prior, Stacey, Woolhouse and others. Few families, however, were constant members of the village, and though some moved only short distances and sons and daughters returned when housing or employment made this possible, others stayed for only a few years. The majority of newcomers came from local villages and towns, but there were people from almost every English county and even Ireland.

This village of the mid-nineteenth century was still a very rural one with at least a third of the men working on the land - farmers, market gardeners, labourers, cowkeepers, jobbing gardeners and pigmen. It was very much a working-class community; more than half the men were either farmworkers, labourers or servants earning perhaps no more than £26 per annum. A rather smaller number were craftsmen - plasterers, coopers, sawyers, bricklayers, cordwainers, a blacksmith and a wheelwright. Most of these must have worked outside the village, except the wheelwright, William Simmonds, for his workshop was behind the Grapes. He must have been a very enterprising person, turning his hand to many trades, for in the twenty years that he is known to have lived in the village he is recorded as beer retailer, carpenter, wheelwright, builder, grocer and coal merchant.

This was a village without any very rich or very poor for the Census Schedules revealed none that were so destitute as to be classed as nor any that belonged to the privileged class of ‘gentry'. The richest members were undoubtedly the farmers of the two largest farms, Saddocks and Manor. In an era when the employment of servants was essential to show that one was above 'the poor and labouring' classes very few in Eton Wick could afford even one living-in maid. Only the Goddards of Saddocks Farm could boast three servants - a governess, a housemaid and general servant. In this household, besides the family with its seven children and the servants, there was also a farm hand living in. Saddocks was large enough by Victorian standards to house them all adequately, but others were by no means so fortunate. A family of nine including grown-up sons and daughters, as well as younger children, somehow managed to sleep and feed in one of the cottages of Prospect Place which consisted of only the one room up and down. More tragically, a mother and five young children were forced to spend at least one night, that of the 30th March 1851, sleeping in the backyard of a neighbouring cottage, having been 'kicked out of house and land'. Not many households in the village, however, were as large as these, in spite of the fact that families were larger - nine or more children was not uncommon - but the elder ones had usually left home before the youngest were born. Infectious diseases also killed many babies.

There must have been scores of villages not very different from Eton Wick, but in one respect it was unusual. This was in the number of working women. There was no question of a choice between marriage and a career, or between a career and a family. On reaching their mid-teens most girls of working class families left home to go into domestic service - to make room at home for the younger children, and because their parents were glad of one fewer mouth to feed and of the small savings the girls managed to send home. If they were lucky enough the girls would get married, and before they had many children, enjoy a few years when they could devote their energies to their own homes and families. Once several children had been born, then many of them found it necessary to turn their hand to any job that might add even a few pennies to the family budget. A few took on dressmaking or domestic service, or even working on the land, but the majority took to laundry work.

In few other villages of South Buckinghamshire were there such opportunities. This was almost certainly because of the proximity to Eton College. From about 1840 conditions at the College had begun to improve, resulting in the employment a greater number of people to attend to the needs of the boys and the staff. The College Laundry was built in 1881. Until this time all the school linen and boys' clothes were washed at small home laundries, no more than cottage wash-houses and sheds, mainly in Eton, Eton Wick and Chalvey. Undoubtedly, the women also washed for their more affluent neighbours and one, Elizabeth Kedge, of Eton Wick (she lived in part of the parsonage) reached the pinnacle as 'Laundress to Her Majesty'. By the end of the century five laundries were advertised in the trade directories - Frederick Burfoot of Alma Road, Mrs Haverley, Mr Sargeant, Mrs Sarah Miles and Mrs Lanfier of Albert Place.




With the laundries came other opportunities in the village. The 1830 Beer Act made it possible for anyone to open a beer house on the payment of a small sum to the Excise Officer. Within three years the Greyhound had received its first licence and a year later the Shepherd's Hut, and the Grapes in 1842. All three were cottages and probably at first sold the beer from a barrel in the kitchen. The licensees often followed another trade. William Simmonds has already been mentioned and David Deverill, beer retailer at the Greyhound in 1841 and 1851 was a labourer. He was succeeded by Isaac Deverill who had been living next door at Thatch Cottage as cowkeeper and dairyman, but who in 1861 told the census enumerator he was a farmer and beer retailer. His son, James, was a greyhound trainer, possibly with Her Majesty's staghounds. Presumably because he was proud of his son's job, Isaac chose the greyhound for the sign of his beer house.


Curiously too the road leading to the Greyhound was named after the family. For many years the road was known simply as Deverill's walk which in time was shortened to The Walk. Not all the beer retailers appear to have bothered with a sign and no mention of one has been found for the beer house run by William Woolhouse at Hope Cottage in the 1840s. At that date with a population of about three hundred the village had a choice of four beer shops and an inn - one for every fourteen families. No wonder in later years the church and chapel found it necessary to fight for temperance.

It is not known when the first shop in the village was opened, but it is likely to have been about this period. John Kirby was in 1846 and is to have lived at Hardings Cottages.  But he did not prosper for long and there was not to be another shop in the village for some years until William Simmonds opened his grocery sideline at the Grapes. Then about 1870 John Kirby returned to the village and again opened a shop, this time at Ada Cottage. He was an old man now and after his death his widow carried on for only a few more years. However, a new tenant took over the shop, and by 1887 it was a bakery and Post Office run by Thomas Lovell. A letterbox stood next to the Three Horseshoes for many years. Almost certainly by this date there was a second shop in the village, another converted cottage - Welman Cottage, or Thames View as it later became known and now Baron Stores.

There were to be no more shops in the village last century, though the rapidly growing area of New Town was almost immediately served two shops. Isaac Crabbe used his front room in the end house of Garrad Place as a general store. Mrs Elizabeth Burfoot was the other shopkeeper and probably was the first to serve at Shakespear Stores (2 Alma Road). Undoubtedly right from the first years Alma Road was the heart, the main street, of New Town; here besides the laundry and the shops were two small businesses. Perseverance Place had been built to the requirements of George Howell, maker, painter and decorator; his workshop adjoined the house. This building has been demolished, but many people remember when the house was used as a surgery. In the 1870s Henry Burfoot had only been a bricklayer living in a small cottage substantial workshop and yard behind. This is now K.G.B. Engineering Works. Henry Burfoot was more than a jobbing builder; indeed he advertised himself in 1891 as ‘builder and contractor, oven builder a speciality, hot range and boiler fixing’.

In the old village another enterprising person seems to have been Henry Elkins who lived in Albert Place in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. He had his own workshop and smithy, not by the house for there was no but on the other side of the brook in the triangular field known as Wheelwrights Yard. Of the other men who were their own masters three were connected with the roads - a fly proprietor who plied for taxi trade from Baldwin Bridge, a carman who hired out himself and his car, or long waggon, and an asphalter.


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The Story of Oliver James Stannett in his own word - Part One

I was born on 25th April 1903 at Chertsey in Surrey. Dad worked on the Thames Conservancy repairing the Chertsey lock gates. 

According to my mother, when I was about three years old I was missing for about three hours. Nobody could find me.

There was a large gravel pit at the bottom of the garden. Dad came home and looked around the gravel pit and he said that he found me hanging on to a bush with my feet touching the water. How long I had been there I don't know.

I knew nothing about this until I was sixteen years old. When I asked Mum and Dad why I was so frightened of water they told me what happened at Chertsey.

You see I was a pupil at Eton Porney School, Eton and the class went bathing at Athens which was the Eton College boys' baths. I absolutely refused to go into the water with the boys so the master told some of the boys to throw me in. Some of them managed to do it but I must have kicked up such a fuss that they had to fetch me out. I told Mum about it when I got home and she wrote a note to the master explaining the reason for my behaviour. Anyway, after that I used to sit on the bank and watch them.

I think that (the gravel pit) was the reason why Mum and Dad left Chertsey and moved to Arthur Road in Windsor close to the Gasworks where Dad got a job on the retorts.

I think that I must have been about four years old because they tried to get me into the school at the other end of Arthur Road. St. Michael's it was called but they would not have me at that age.
I was playing in the road one day and a man in plus fours asked me why I was not at school. He was the School Board man. Mum told him. I don't know how he managed it, he only had one arm and rode a bike, but he picked me up put me on his saddle and took me to school. After that Mum took me to school as they agreed to let me go there.

The School Board man used to go to the school and find out who was not there. Then he would go round to their homes and take them to school. Nobody liked him. He was still around during the 1914 - 18 war when I saw him last. Dods I think his name was.

All that I did at school was to play with sand on a tray, trying to make sand castles etc. I got fed-up with this so I decided not to go to school. Across the road from us where two roads met there was a sweet shop that had three steps going up to the shop door which I hid behind until the School Board man had been and gone.

Anyway I left my hiding-place and went home. Mum 'created' at me for not going and offered me a farthing to get a liquorice long stick which was a foot long and half an inch wide. These, 1/2d Caliboncas and Port Wine toffee were all the sweets we ever got. I must have gone to school because I remember sitting in the classroom with paper and pencil. I think it was then that Mum and Dad moved to the other end of the road close to the school.

It was a square of houses built together and the only way that you could get into the square was through an archway in the middle of each side.

It was supposed to be a playground for kiddies but it was all gravel. The Church Army Band played there on Sundays. Dad grew flowers there. It was not big enough for veg. and he had several rabbit hutches there. The rabbits were white with pink eyes and the flowers were all colours.

I became interested in the sticks stuck in each plant with a flowerpot with straw put in it. Of course, I had to go and look. While I was doing that I had left the rabbit hutch door open and they were out into the garden! One good point was that they could not get out of the garden and Dad managed to catch them. I had a good talking to so I never touched them again.

Dad was always good to us. He never hit one of us. Not that I know of anyway.

Dad used to chew tobacco. One day I fell over and cut the palm of my hand. Of course it hurt and I yelled. Dad came out. "Let's have a look," he said. He looked at my hand, spat on it and then rubbed it in. “There you are," he said. I do not remember what happened after that.

Then something happened which I have never forgotten when I had toothache in both sides of my face which were swollen like balloons. Mum got a piece of flannel, mixed some vinegar and mustard together into a paste and spread it on my face. The pain went away and it kept me from school but I still had the swelling.

I must have been six years old when I was let out of school early. There was nobody in and I saw a bottle of beer on the kitchen table. I thought I would try it. So I took the bottle into the scullery, took the screw stopper out and had a good swig. Then I realized that it was paraffin! I choked and spluttered gasping for breath. As it happened the next door neighbour heard me and came to help. Mum came in and said, "Wait till your father gets home," but Mum and Dad just laughed their heads off. Dad said, "I think he has learned his lesson. I think he has been punished enough. "I have often thought on the big old fashioned clothes mangle with big rollers that I clung to when trying so hard to breathe. Soon after that we moved to Eton Wick. 

This is an extract from the autobiography written by Oliver James Stannett (1903 - 1988) and republished here with the kind permission of his relatives who still live in Eton Wick.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

The Way Things Were — Temperance



It is believed Eton formed a branch of the Temperance Guild in 1878 and Eton Wick about 6 - 8 years later. The following are a few extracts taken from the Parish Magazines of 1884 to 1904, with particular regard to the vices of drink, cigarettes and gambling. 

February 1884 Eton - "On January 8th a tea was held by the Temperance Guild (children) followed by music. On January 3rd  the Guild and friends had a tea. On January 10th senior members had supper at the (Eton) vicarage. On the 11th nearly 100 women were entertained to a substantial tea followed by singing and an address by Miss Haslam the Secretary of the Eton branch of the C of E Temperance Society. On January 16th entertainment was given in aid of funds for the Eton Institute, the second part of the entertainment being a Christy Minstrel performance by members of a club from a neighbouring parish. On the 17th there was a similar entertainment at Eton Wick in aid of a Drum and Fife Band in the village" etc……

 Two months later a Parish Magazine report (Eton) "Rev Donaldson of Maidenhead gave a talk to the Temperance Society on the evils of grocers selling spirits. It was resolved to petition Parliament. The subject of Sunday closing of public houses was also debated." 

Parish Magazine 1888 - "At the last meeting of the Eton Temperance Society interesting information about the licensing claims of the Local Government Bill was given by Mr Stephen Bourne. The C.E.T.S. (presumably the Church of England Temperance Society) recommends these clauses generally, but urges petitioning in favour of some amendments. It would place some limitations on the time allowed for compensation. Steps have been taken by the Society toward securing allotments for working men. The ground proposed is just opposite the Sanatorium (Eton Wick Road). We hope before many weeks to have three acres under cultivation in this way. Applications for holdings must be made at once." 

Parish Magazine February 1888 - (Eton and Eton Wick) "During the week commencing 13/2/88 the powerful Temperance missionary known as the 'Paddington Dustman' will speak in different parts of the Parish daily, and we trust his efforts to reclaim those who are enslaved by drinking habits will be abundantly blessed, and that many may be helped to begin a Christian life in real earnest. 

The C.E.T.S. Benefit Society is doing well. At the close of 1887 each member received £1.1s.7½d (£1.08p) back from his payment of £1.3s (£1.15p). By the rules of members, they contribute 6d (2½ p) a week and are entitled to 10 shilling (50p) a week during sickness, up to three months and to 5 shilling (25p) a week for the following three months." 

In August of that year, the Parish Magazine wrote: "Let me say a word or two to the fathers and mothers who send their little ones with a jug or a bottle to the public house to fetch them beer. When you do this, you forget you are doing a great harm. Some children have very inquisitive minds and will have a look inside to see the colour and then perhaps taste it to see if it is nice; on the sly; and you forget you are undoing six days in the week, what the friends in the 'Band of Hope' for an hour or so on one night a week are trying to instil into your little ones. Do you not think that if anyone ought to care for your children and to see they are kept out of danger, you yourself ought to do so." 

In April of 1888 the same magazine reported "The Temperance Society (Eton) held on Easter Tuesday a tea. During the tea, they were regaled with music from the 'Guards Pipers'. At 8pm a grand meeting was held in the upper school (College). The Bishop of London made a speech. Members of the Parochial Branch, including the Children's Guilds, numbered 500. During the summer meetings will be held fortnightly. Twice during the last fortnight our special preachers have called attention to the prevalence of gambling. It is an evil attracting much attention and calls for special warnings at this time. A preacher said "Young men, the vice from my experience and from testimony of others is devastating your lives at least as seriously as drink is gambling. Covetousness is the idolatry of this age. Gambling, you forget that you are the holders of what God gives you for his glory. You forget that you are trying to get money without fulfilling the dignified condition of work. You forget that your success, if it goes to anything, at least like large dimensions means another's misery. You become victims not only of the idolatry of covetousness, but of the intoxication of chance. Young men! I have seen ruined homes, ruined lives and ruined loves. Come away from this increasing and debasing vice. For God's sake gamble no more."

June 1888 Parish Magazine - Children of the Eton Temperance Guild will have their summer tea on July 31st  at the school (Porny). After tea, weather permitting, all will adjourn to the Vicar's lawn for entertainment prepared by Rev'd A Treherne and Miss Wilkinson, starting at 7.30pm. Members of the Church of England Temperance Society being admitted free. On July 17th the Annual Fete of C.E.T.S. will take place in Mr Everards' grounds. 

February 1904 Parish Magazine - A report of the Eton Wick Temperance Juniors Society since Christmas 1903. "Among many advantages of membership are that all regular members are paid ½ pence (1/5 of present pence) per attendance. The fourteen Lieutenants each receive 1d, the seven Captains 1½d; and the Colonel 2½d (per meeting) the General 3d". (On Smoking) "It is a great pity that the boys of England should undermine their constitutions and spoil their powers of usefulness by this poisonous form of entertainment (Boys Smoking) The law will probably step in to prevent the sale of this cheap rubbish to small boys…… etc; another danger lately is the poisonous nature of many of the vile concoctions sold as wholesome beer and spirits"..... etc. 

These extracts were taken from the Eton Parish Magazines of the late 19th to early 20th century. At that time Temperance Groups were increasingly vociferous, perhaps not without cause. The period coincided with the building of Boveney Newtown's Methodist Chapel in Alma Road and certainly, its creator, Annie Tough, would have worked hard for Temperance. 

We must remember there was no electricity or gas to provide comfort at home, no buses or cars, pubs did have a good open fire for warmth while most homes at best had only the cooking range; warm but not visually inviting. Perhaps the legacy of allotments owes something to Temperance, where men were encouraged to dig rather than drink and I am sure old habits die hard. Thirty years after the Eton Wick Temperance Society I was attending Eton Porny School, where boys of 13 years had allotments. The plots were on the South end of the Slads and adjacent to the Eton Recreation Ground. The headmaster, Mr Frampton, personally supervised the afternoon sessions of allotment tending. No matter how hot the conditions we were forbidden to have a drink or use the pump for a drink until 3pm. He always said, 'men do not work well after drinking.' 

Frank Bond

This article was first published in the Eton Wick News Letter - Our Village in August 2010.

The complete Our Village Collection can be found here. The Eton Wick History Group republish Our Village with the kind permission of publishers, the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee.