Monday, 20 May 2019

War Memorial Committee Meeting - May 1919


Committee Meeting held May 20th 1919

The Treasurer reported collection to date as £55.00. 

It was decided to inscribe on front of the Memorial - "In Memory of the Parishioners of Eton Wick and Boveney whose names are recorded on this cross They gave their lives for their Country in the Great War 1914-1918 passing from the strife of the world into the peace of God" and beneath the Plinth "Their names liveth for Evermore". 

Proposed Mr Percy, seconded Mr Burfoot that the lettering on Memorial Front be raised and the names of the fallen be incised and leaded. Agreed. 

Also agreed that Mr Nutt be asked to give estimate for use of Hopton Wood Stone.


This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

On Their Own At Last.

For at least seven centuries Eton Wick had been administered through Eton. In 1894 this came to an end, swept away by the Civil Parishes Act. The Local Health Boards were ended to and in future the vestry would be concerned only with church affairs. Eton town was created an Urban District and the rest of the parish became the separate civil parish of Eton Wick within Eton Rural District. In spite of the recent ecclesiastical amalgamation, however,  New Town remained part of Boveney with its own parish council.  Meetings were held and some of the confusion that everyone clearly felt was dispelled, but no doubt the people of those days were as sceptical of those of 1974 that the changes were for the better.

Early in December parish meetings were held in Boveney and Eton Wick, and five councillors were elected for each of the two councils.  A few days before Christmas they met for the first time: the Eton Wick Council at Wheatbutts, the  property of its first chairman, and the Boveney Council in the schoolroom of the Methodist Chapel. Although the parish of Boveney included two communities, that is New Town and the tiny village around Boveney church, all the councillors  lived  in  New  Town. The parish  magazine gave the names of the councillors and trade directories reveal something of their  standing in the Wick.


Two matters in particular were of immediate concern to the Eton Wick Parish Council - the  acquisition of more land for allotments and the release of the money given in compensation for the loss of lammas rights. The Great Western Railway Company gave just over £200 when the branch line from Slough to Windsor was laid and the Local Health Board gave £150 when the  sewage farm was developed at Bell Farm. The money was held by trustees: by 1894, with the interest it amounted to almost a £1000.

By the end of the first year both aims had been achieved. Land was leased from the Crown - the acquisition of more land for allotments and their management, rents, fences, pumps and by-laws became regular items on the Council's agenda. The matter of the compensation was not quite so simple. How to use the money for the benefit of the whole parish had been a perplexing question for many years. Many suggestions had been made and rejected because of legal difficulties. Finally the idea of a recreation ground at Eton and Eton Wick met with approval. Eton's ground was in use by 1896, but unfortunately nine years were to pass, and land exchanged between the Crown and the Lord of the Manor, before a suitable piece of ground could be found in the village. At last in 1904 the deeds were signed, site levelled and the pitch made ready for the football and cricket teams.

Much of the work of the Parish Council concerned the upkeep of the footpaths and footbridges and the repair of the gates and stiles leading to the commons . This was not its responsibility, but the councillors acted as watchdogs, requesting, negotiating and chivvying the relevant authorities, usually the Lord of the Manor or the Rural District Council, until the jobs were done. The cleansing of the Common Ditch (the brook which runs along the north edge of the common) and the removal of refuse came into the same category, and the village suffered while the authorities dragged their feet. The Council acted as watchdog in another important matter, the use or rather misuse of the commons. It is clear from the Minutes that there was not always a Hayward and the rules were frequently not enforced. On three separate occasions in the life of the Council (1894-1934) it joined forces with the Eton Urban Council requesting the Lord of the Manor to hold a Court Baron in an attempt to ensure the better management of the commons.

A committee of parishioners was even formed to report on irregularities and it is easy to imagine the mixed feelings which this must have engendered! The Council were on watch for the violation of the lammas rights even to the extent of going against the national interests in the time of war when , during World War I, they continued to forbid the building of pig sties on the parish allotments. Several were built and ordered to be pulled down. Mr Vaughan, still the chairman of the Council, was not wholly in favour of so strict adherance to the rules, and offered the use of a boar to those villagers who, in the past year, had been keeping pigs in their own gardens. No doubt his offer was gratefully accepted and resulted in one kind of litter that could meet with approval - at least while patrotism was stronger than the smell of pigs. Some time after the war the rules were changed and later Minutes record permission to build pigsties and chicken houses. By the time the Ordnance Survey mapped the village again in the 1930s there were dozens of sties to be marked. 


Through all the forty years that the Council existed it was hampered by a lack of funds, since a rate of twopence in the pound brought in little more than £20, and even in those days this was a very small amount. In consequence the Council decided in 1895 not to adopt the Lighting Act, or to pay an extra Hospital Rate to the Eton Urban District Council so that fever patients from Eton Wick could attend the cottage hospital there rather than the Rural District hospital at Cippenham. Years later, when there was a suggestion that this hospital should be extended, the Council voted against the motion, once again the deciding factor was the cost. The question of main drainage and a scheme for refuse collection were brought up several times, but each time discussion was terminated because of the 'prohibitive' cost. Perhaps it was really true for many of the villagers were poorly paid and out of work for at least part of the year, though quite certainly there were more than a few people who believed that what was good enough for their fathers was good enough for them. The most that could be achieved was to see that the RDC Inspector checked the individual cesspits and the Common Ditch and its ponds were cleaned regularly. In the 1920s Mr Vaughan gave a small piece of land behind the Village Hall for use as a rubbish dump for both Boveney and Eton Wick, but refuse still continued to accumulate in a huge mound on the common is scavenging scheme, but this could never be a complete solution to the problem.

In 1902 the Eton Union Guardians wrote to the Council asking its views on the subject of secondary education; but even in this matter the Council were still mindful of costs and replied that their opinion it would not be sufficiently advantageous to the inhabitants and they the (did) not feel justified in advocating the proposed rate in the parish for the support of the school'. In retrospect it is well that the decision was not finally theirs to take. In other matters the Council was more positive in its actions. A small mortuary was built in 1913 on the edge of the common in place of the shed beside the Three Horseshoes which had been used for the same purpose. Drownings were not infrequent, and several elderly gentlemen can still recall the delicious horror of peering through the chinks in the shed when it was known that a body was inside: Incidentally the inquest was often held in a room at the Greyhound. Over the years provision was made for fire fighting beginning with the purchase of a hose and reel in 1912. Messrs Burfoot and Harman immediately offered the use of their telephones (probably the only two in the village) to summon the Eton Fire Brigade, and notices were printed to this effect. The services of this voluntary brigade were free, but a charge was made for out-of-pocket expenses and any damage to the engine. The bright red engine with its brass gleaming was a magnificent sight when pulled at full gallop through the village. All of this is just a memory, but the ladder, protected by a narrow roof, was bought about the same time and can still be seen on the west wall of the post office. 

This is an extract from The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 to 1977 by Judith Hunter.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

William Simmonds: The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement


Dear Eton Wick Historians

A recently published book, William Simmonds: The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Jessica Douglas-Home, Unicorn, 2018, £25, you may not have heard about. The book is a biography of William Simmonds, a ‘son’ of Eton Wick who became an artist, and then particularly a wood-carver, a maker of puppets and a puppeteer. As an adult he lived in London and in Oakridge in the Cotswolds.


The first paragraph from The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement

His father, John Simmonds, was a builder who lived in a pub in Eton Wick, the Grapes Beer House, apparently originally kept by his father. John was working for Windsor Castle’s Office of Works when, in 1872, he was asked by the Castle’s architect to go to Turkey to help rebuild the British Embassy in Constantinople, which had burned down. In 1873 he was joined by his fiancĂ©e, Martha Walker. They married, and in 1876 William Simmonds was born. Also in 1876 the family returned to Britain. John first worked in Edinburgh, then in 1881 returned to Eton Wick. There are two houses in Alma Road that have names from Constantinople, Galate where John and Martha's daughter Annie was born and Pera, William's place of birth. 

By Robin Cave

Mr Cave is a nephew of Joan Ballhatchet.

The first few pages of William Simmonds: The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Jessica Douglas-Home can be read on Amazon.


Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Our Village December 2012 - The way things were - from Memory Lane

It was a warm sunny day in August — yes we did have a few — so I decided to stroll to Common Road where I could sit in the shade of the 'Victoria' oak tree. This was home from home to me as I had spent my first 29 years; apart from five years of war; in an old house exactly adjacent to that tree.

I sat alone, and with few passers-by, I really did go down memory lane with the ghosts of long departed neighbours drifting in and out of my thoughts. On similar sunny Sundays, during my childhood, my father had sat there in the shade of the tree enjoying a cup of tea and chatting to Jack Newell, the village blacksmith. They sat on the grass, but I used the seat dedicated to Jack's daughter, Jennie, her husband Allan, and neighbours Maud and Ivor Rivers. Many villagers will need no reminding of Jennie and Maud's stupendous efforts raising funds for charitable causes.

How much neater and tidier Common Road is today, but apart from an enlarged Wheatbutts Cottage; Dairy Farm House and the 'Greyhound' public house, most else has gone; to be replaced with more modern dwellings. Hope Cottages are still there, but bear little resemblance to the earlier days when unsightly backs, outhouses and toilets cluttered the view along Common Road. Many were still using bucket toilets, as the main drainage did not arrive until around 1940. The pond too was neglected and silting up. Even so, as children (we never said kids in those days, as only goats had kids) we got much seasonal pleasure on the pond with old bath tubs, fishing, and in winter, really good ice slides.

Many homes had a pail for the family food waste, vegetable trimmings etc., smelly perhaps, but many chicken and pigs were kept by householders, and farmers gladly collected the swill from the 'pig bucket' as they were called. Dairy Farm had pigs, as did Ted Watson who farmed from Wheatbutts Cottage. In fact most of the farms and some householders kept pigs. Jack Newell also had several on his blacksmith ground holding. Around the area now occupied by the Albert Place flats; the lammas Hayward, Mr Pass; who came to Eton Wick in 1933; bred pedigree and other pigs up to the 1950s and at times had as many as 400 in what was then the Thatched Cottage grounds. His large pig herd was part fed by his regular collection of food waste from the kitchens of Eton College.

During the long period of meat rationing in WW2 it was a great advantage to supplement the meagre ration allowance with home bred pork. Quite illegal of course, as it was a requirement to declare the intent to kill, and then to forego some of the official 'ration'. Not always adhered to, and I know of instances when doors were locked, complete blackout, and family vigilance while the pig was carved upon the kitchen table.

It was very pleasant on that oak tree seat, with reflections of yesteryears and the dear departed, but I was very conscious of how few people were about. One friendly lady encouraged her young lad to wave to me and we were soon having a chat. I concluded the absence of people must be due to the fact that most ladies were out at work.

In my young years the housework was so time consuming, with no washing machines, electric cookers (microwave or otherwise) and the age of 'mend or make do' rather than replace. No school meals and a dependence on a coal fired kitchen range meant very few women went out of the home to work. Consequently the houses were mostly always occupied, and the women living along the streets became very local characters. Until the mid-1930s when contractors R Bond & Sons established a vehicle base off Common Road there were no cars along the road. Apart from Cyril Doe's motorbike and sidecar at Albert Place there were virtually no motor vehicles other than the annual visit to Saddocks Farm by Ward's threshing machine, and an occasional cattle truck to one of the farms. How different now.

Despite the untidy appearance of seventy plus years ago some of today's apathy could be put to shame. Yes the ponds have gone, but the stream is a disgrace, with the large thorn hedges getting ever larger and practically hiding the water course. This is on common land and it is not good enough to say it is no concern of ours.

As a 17 year old, on a lovely sunny September morning, I was on the edge of the pond about 20 metres from where I was now sitting, when my Mother solemnly called me to the house and said "it is 11 o'clock Frank and the Prime Minister is about to broadcast to the nation". Indeed he did, declaring Britain was now at war with Germany. Far more of consequence than the landing on the moon years later.

Common Road was perhaps more fortunate in the coming conflict compared to the Great War of 1914-18. It suffered just one soldier fatality as against eight in the First World War. In fact five of the eight Great War fatalities had homes within fifty metres of the oak tree where I was now sitting and sadly the five included two pairs of brothers. Yes! They had lived out their young lives and played around this spot, albeit two of the brothers aged 20 and 23 years had lived at Dairy Farm within a stone's throw away. They had volunteered, and as I reflected, the short war poem by A. E. Houseman rang through my thoughts.


Here dead vie lie because we did not choose 
To live and shame the land from which we sprung 
Life to be sure is nothing much to lose 
But young men think it is and we were young

Another difference is the complete absence of cattle and horses grazing the commons. They were ever present between May 1st and November. Unfortunately of course, the farms and small holdings no longer have milking herds and work horses have long since disappeared. Several households had chicken and ducks which seemed to roam freely although mostly ducks kept to the ponds and the stream. Other roads in Eton Wick that existed in the early to mid-1900's had perhaps similar history to reflect upon, although the Lammas and ponds were peculiar to Common Road. What was once very rural has become more of an urbanisation.

By Frank Bond


This article was originally published in the Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village as is republished with the kind permission of the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee. Click here to go to the Collection page.

Friday, 26 April 2019

World War 2 - April 1939

Britain re-introduced conscription on April 26th 1939 for men aged twenty to twenty one years to undertake six months military training.  Many  of those  called under the act went for training with anti-aircraft and searchlight regiments.  During the months prior to the outbreak of war, recruitment of volunteers for the Air Raid Precaution (A.R.P.) service was stepped up. Eton Urban District Council (E.U.D.C.), under the authority of Buckinghamshire County Council, became responsible for the local air raid precautions which were administration and directed from the Council Offices at Barnes Pool Bridge, Eton.   


Harry Chantler’s Post Office and Grocery Store — 1960
Eton Wick volunteers to the local A.R.P. units included  Arthur Codd; Harry Chantler; Albert Bond; Ernie Drake; Walter Elkins;  Mr Gregory; and Reverend Morris.  Mr Codd, then  employed as the manager of the E.U.D.C. Bell Farm sewage beds, became Chief Warden.  A.R.P. Messengers for the village were Frank Bond and Ken Weller.   Bill Akers and Harry Johnson with others joined the Auxiliary Fire Service.  Two A.R.P. Posts were  established in the village, one at  Clifton House,  the Post Office and Grocery Store of  Mr Chantler, the other at the Red House, the home and office of Burfoots, the local builder.  These business premises were chosen as being equipped with a telephone and someone always present to receive calls during air raid alerts. 

Establishment of an A.R.P. wardens’ post at Harry Chantler’s shop involved  shoring up the back room with bulks of timber and sand bags against bomb blast.  The job was so well done that when Harry married, he was unable to take delivery of his new furniture due to the obstruction.   This added protection raised another problem  for Mr an Mrs Chantler when the evacuees arrived in the village.  Upon inspection of their home they were told by the London County Council (L.C.C.) Headmaster,  Mr Cawsley, that their premises were not suitable to take children.  

The loan of the Coach House in Hogarth Road, (now part of Victoria Road). free of charge by Mr Nottage to the Eton fire Brigade for the duration of the war,  allowed for the establishment of an auxiliary fire point at Eton Wick and was agreed on the  condition that the council undertook the insurance  of the building.


Coach House. Eton Wick.  Wartime auxiliary fire point
Additional  protection of the building against bomb blast was needed requiring the reinforcement of the external walls; the addition of this extra walling was carried out by Burfoots including an office at the Eton Fire Station at a cost  of £142 - 5s.

Responding to the call  by the County Police Authority for men to train as Special Constables, Mr Morrell, Johnny Bell, Bob Friend, Edwin Buckland, Ernie Thomas. Ernie Prosser and Norman Lane  volunteered and were sworn in carrying out their duties at Eton and Eton Wick.  David Bryant with Eddie and Ernie Bond joined as police messengers.  At first their reporting post was the surface shelter located in the garden of the police house, Moores Lane, until such time as other facilities became available at the Wheatbutts Scout Hut.  The average duty rosta was two nights per week unless an alert sounded, then every one reported for duty which often became an all night stint. Night duty by civil defence volunteers was not an acceptable excuse for absenteeism from work the following day.   Persistent offenders working in factories engaged in the production of military equipment or in public transport risked being summoned to appear at court to explain their action and possibly face a court fine. 

This is an extract from Round and About Eton Wick: 1939 - 1945. The book was researched, written and published in 2001 by John Denham. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Eton Wick Census 1911

The United Kingdom Census of 1911 was taken on Sunday 3rd April, that year and was the eighth of the UK censuses to include details of household members. The total number of persons returned as living in England and Wales at midnight on Sunday, 3rd April, 1911, was 45,216,665. This shows an increase of 3,757,944 upon the number enumerated on 31st March, 1901, and gives a decennial rate of increase of 9.06 percent. The 1911 Census is the first that the forms that were completed by each household are records made available by the National Records Office. Previous Census records that have been released are the books completed by the Enumerators.

Details collected include:

Names of each person who was resident in the house on the night preceding the census.

Relationship to Head of Household.

Age and sex of each person: The actual age in years or months for babies under one year are recorded in the 1901 census.

Particulars as to marriage.

Rank, Profession or Occupation.

Birthplace, county and country.

Whether Blind, Deaf or Dumb.

Place: street name, house number or house name.

Houses: inhabited, uninhabited or a building and the number of rooms.

The Superintend Registrar's District was Eton, Bucks and the Registrar's district was Eton. Enumeration District No. 6. There is no signature of the enumerator visible.

The area for the 1911 census included was the entire parish of Eton Wick. There is no further description of the area covered

The 1911 Census reveals that there were 147 households and 527 people in residence in the village at midnight on the 3rd April. The oldest person, Esther Wheeler at the age of 89, she was born in 1822. Her husband, William was 87.  Eda Alice Talbot and Felina Brades were both one month old, there were four children born in the first three months of 1911 within the civil parish of Eton Wick.

Click on this link to see our transcription of the 1911 census records for Eton Wick. We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about Eton Wick and publish our findings in future articles.

Consolidated Census spreadsheet.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Eton Wick and Boveney were part of Eton Rural Sanitary Authority

Eton Wick was outside the area that the Eton Union Sanitary Authority covered so the villagers were not entitled to use the hospital, nor were those people of Eton who could not afford to pay something towards the cost. There was opportunity here for charitable help, and the Church was not slow in setting up a system whereby the more prosperous people were encouraged to buy 'dispensary tickets'. These could be given directly to the poorer parishioners who needed medical help as outpatients. Otherwise, as often seems to have happened, they were given to one of the clergy, who with the help of the District Visitors gave them to the most needy. By the end of the first year 399 people had been treated at the Dispensary as well as those who had been patients in the hospital. It should not be forgotten that 1883 was also the year in which the Eton Poor Estate had begun to pay the salary of a nurse for the parish. Church, Charitable Trust and Local Authority all combined to make Eton a good parish in which to be ill

In 1875 Eton Wick and Boveney became part of the Eton Rural Sanitary Authority. Inevitably because of the large area changes were slow to take place; but at least one improvement was achieved in Eton Wick when in 1892 piped water reached the village. Communal taps were placed at convenient places to pairs and blocks of houses and collecting water from them became a daily task. Clean drinking water was kept in muslin covered buckets in the scullery, while water for other purposes stood uncovered nearby, though rainwater from the tub was still favoured for its softness. At the turn of the century new houses built in the Walk were probably the first in the village to enjoy the luxury of having running water actually in the house. Slowly, however, a cold water tap and stone sink became standard for most village homes. 

In the same year, 1892, another important change took place. New Town was taken under the wing of the Vicar of Eton for all spiritual purposes. Now, except for marriage, all residents of New Town would have the same rights of administration as the rest of the people in the village. For the first time also Eton Wick had its own resident curate, though as yet no parsonage. Services of District Visitors were obtained for New Town and parish work in that district was put on a more official footing. The first steps in the recognition of New Town as part of Eton Wick, rather than Boveney, had been taken. 

This is an extract from The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 to 1977 by Judith Hunter.

Public Health Act 1875