Monday 11 December 2023

The 18th Century Village of Eton Wick – Part Three - The Village and its Inhabitants 1700 —1800

Note. 240 pennies were equal to £1 

How and Where they lived in the Village  

No person can be an Island and no community can really isolate itself from its neighbours so what influenced the daily life of the eight-teeth century inhabitants of Eton Wick.

As to where they lived within the village is hard to define and the lifestyle changes during the century brought many changes to local farming and other employment. In the eighteenth century the area now thought of as the old village became the centre of the community for the first time. A parish map of 1797 ('itself a copy of an older one of 1742) cottages laying dispersed along the short stretch of common from shows about ten cottages laying dispersed along the short stretch of common from the Wheatbutts to Sheepcote not far way from the brook or one of its tributaries. 

In the rest of Eton Wick, to the east, north and west there were only about another dozen, and most of these were the older timber-framed houses giving a total of about twenty or so homesteads. Two of these houses can be dated with reasonable certainty as having been built within the first quarter of the eighteenth century - Wheatbutts and Hope Cottage (now part of nos. 37 and 39 Common Road). 

Wheatbutts was built for William Lyford, a butcher from Eton, between 1704, when the land was described as 'all that close of arable land called Wheatbutts and 1716; by which time the house had been built in the corner of the close and the rest converted into a orchard. It is known that by 1716 William Lyford was living at Old Windsor so it is doubtful that he ever lived at the Wheatbutts as the property was sold to the Eton Poor Estate.

Hope Cottage was built a few years later in about 1725. At that date a small close of just over an acre was bought from William Lyford by Anthony Warwick, a yeoman of Eton. Again it is doubtful that Warwick ever lived in the village for he was landlord of several cottages including five in Dorney,. Seven years later in 1732 he sold the cottage in Eton Wick to the tenant, Elizabeth Griffiths, a widow. She and her married son, William, converted it to an ale house known as the Bull's Head. Probably about this time the cottage was divided into two.

William bought the property from his mother in 1745 and continued to be the victualler there for the next eleven years (1756). William sold the property to the farmer, John Fennel. Whose widow, Elizabeth, continued to live there until her death in 1785. In her Will she left one of the cottages to her niece, Anne Hope, by which the cottages became known. 

At the time of her death this cottage was the home of Robert Tarrant whilst the other cottage, in which Elizabeth herself had been living, she left to relative, Robert Wilkins and his wife and son for their lives. Among her other bequest was a green iron bedstead and her furniture to Anne Hope whilst the rest of her goods and chattels went to Anne Hope and Mary Wilkins,

Even before the Bull's Head had closed its door another alehouse had opened in the village. this was the Three Horseshoes. Exactly when it received its first licence is unknown but, like the Bull's Head, it is recorded in the Victuallers' Recognizances of 1753. 

Three Horseshoes Pub 1910 

The house itself was built sometime before 1705 when it was purchased by Joseph Johnson, yeoman of Eton Wick, from John and Mary Bell. The Pub has been owned by various Windsor Brewers including in 1762, Richard Grape. It is intriguing to speculate which of these two inns was the first in the village, though it is possible that neither was, as is suggested by an isolated reference in the parish registers to 'The Small Fox' at Eton Wick . Perhaps the village could not support two pubs.

About fifty years on in 1813 a survey showed the local farming community of Eton as having 6 farmhouses, among which could have been Bell Farm, Saddocks Farm, Crown farm, Manor Farm, Dairy Farm or Little Common farm with 150 cottages the majority of which were in Eton, about 20 homesteads being in Eton Wick whose population was then about 100. 

Dorney had 5 farmhouses and 12 cottages. but the rich farming community at Burnham boasted 8 farmhouses and 15 cottages; the latter two being enclosed. Farms within Eton varied in acreage from 20 to 200 acres whilst Burnham with much land under the plough has establishments from 40 to 1000 acres. 

Eton Wick, unlike some other Hamlets and small villages of England at that time, was not an isolated community, being bordered by Eton. Windsor, Burnham, Slough and Maidenhead with which there was probably almost daily communication by someone on foot or by horse and cart. Also the village proximity to the River Thames gave its residents a nodding acquaintance with the bargemen plying between Maidenhead and London therefore local and national news of events filtered through by word of mouth to the village. 

No doubt, during the 18th century, as at the present time, the locals of Eton and Eton Wick discussed and expressed their views on National political events in so much as it affected their daily lives,. for example the accessions of the of King George's 1st, 2nd and 3rd, the war with the French. the capture of Gibraltar , the union of England and Scotland; the appointment of Robert Walpole as first Prime Minister of Great Britain, and the Declaration of Independence by the American Colonies, together with the scare of the local smallpox outbreak in Windsor in April 1729 having just experience one of the coldest winters on record that ended in March 1729.

However uppermost in the minds of those getting a living or sustenance from the land was the enclosure of the common lands. Although there may have been other employment opportunities in Windsor, Eton and Slough the right to the use of the land to produce ones food if only at a subsistence level was paramount to the villagers. 

For the whole of the eighteenth century and beyond the open field system remained the way of farming in the parish; each farmer cultivating his various strips of the field to grow corn, barley, oats, beans , turnips, cabbage and potatoes, also the full use of grazing rights on the common land and pastures would be utilized. (A true field being a large area of arable land divided into strips.

How much mechanical and animal power was available to the village freeholder or tenant is difficult to assess but the Buckinghamshire Posse Comitatus for 1798 indicated that there was approximately 40 draught horses within Eton and Eton Wick. Robert Mills of Crown Farm had 4 draught horses ,1 wagon and 3 carts whilst it appears that John Atkins of Bell Farm owned 5 horses, 1 wagon and 2 carts. 

The improved farming methods over the century and the increasing employment opportunities that became available in Eton during the century gave rise to a higher standard of living which induced some tenants and commoners to give up their strips to the more successful. There were certain rules and arrangements to be abide by as a document from the sixteenth 

This was part of the script for a talk given by John Denham at a meet of the Windsor & District University of the Third Age in 2003.


Monday 4 December 2023

Eton Wick History Group Final Meeting - William Simmonds, sculptor, puppeteer & engineer and the Mystery Picture


7:30 pm 
13th December 2023
Village Hall

World War 2 Eighty Years On - 'Spit and Polish' and two crashed Flying Fortresses

The proximity of Windsor Castle with the Royal family and others of military rank brought a certain amount of ‘Spit and Polish’ to the local Ack-Ack camps, including Dorney camp due to the possible visits by "Red Tab " Officers from the War Office King George VI once visited the Dorney Ack-Ack camp having passed through the village un-noticed. By 1943 the camps had acquired a look of permanence with the inclusion of a fairly large NAAFI hut where Troop entertainment, such as Bingo, Film Shows and Dances were held. As this was a mixed battery, there was never a shortage of partners for camp dances where two musicians from the village, Andy Skeels on piano and George White on drums, often supplied the music. Both had been evacuated to Eton Wick to escape the bombing of London. 

It was not all war and no play for the gunners, for in June 1943 the first sports meeting was held by the local H.A.A. Regiment at the old Polo Ground Datchet. A Bathing Belles competition, in which a number of the locally stationed A.T.S. girls took part, was judged by a committee of R.A. Officers. Various field events were also arranged in which both Gunners and A.T.S. took part. After the prizes had been distributed by the Brigade Commander, an enjoyable day was rounded off with a dance and cabaret. 

B Troop’ 564 Heavy (M) AA Battery R.A.  183 Regiment R.A.  38 Division.   SM7 Camp  Dorney Common.  1944

Officer Commanding.  Major Haines (seated centre).   Reverend Wingate, Vicar of St John the Baptist, Eton Wick.


The intensified Allied air offensive was seen and heard as Flying Fortress (B17) heavy bombers of the United States Air Force frequently flew over the village on their way to bomb targets in France and Germany. It was taken for granted that the aircraft overhead were friendly, but there was always the danger of a bomber crashing in the locality from having been damaged in an attack over enemy territory. Such an incident occurred to a U.S.A.F.(B17) bomber returning damaged from a daylight raid on Schweinfurt. The drone of the plane circling was heard in the evening at dusk as it continued to circle over the Windsor area for some time. After a while the increased roar of the engines was heard to be followed by the noise of the crash as the damaged Flying Fortress (B17) did a wheels up landing onto Beaumont College rugby pitch at Runnymede. but luckily, no injuries were sustained by the crew in the crash other than being rather shaken. The bomber had received damage to the hydraulic system during the raid over enemy occupied territory. A shaken but relieved crew made their way to the Bells of Ouesley public house where they were entertained by the landlord,  Mr. Barnett. Hundreds of sightseers visited the site during the weekend.

A second Boeing B17 of 91st Bomber Group crashed at Old Windsor
on December 30th, 1943.

Strict fuel rationing curtailed the service provided by the Blue Bus from Dorney - Eton Wick - Windsor, also it limited the availability of Taxis. An order, issued by the Ministry of Fuel and Power, stated that from the end of May 1942 no petrol would be available to Hackney Carriages licensed after April of that year. The only taxi in the village at this time was owned by Mr. Phillips who had got his taxi license in the December of 1942 before the report came out. 

Mr. Chew taking up the plea for a petrol ration, made the point to the Surveyor, that Mr. Phillips was fulfilling a very necessary need in the village as Eton Wick had already lost one taxi. A decision was taken to apply for a supply of petrol which resulted in a successful application. Motor fuel was available for private cars for essential war service, generally in the community. One case of misuse of fuel which resulted in a summons was the result of the watchful eye of P.C. Rainer the village constable. On four occasions within the month, he had noticed that the organist to Eton Wick chapel was collected after service by car. On questioning the lady driver, he established that the petrol was for church work, but he did not consider fetching the organist after the service lawful church work. Three and a half gallons of motor fuel was the ration that had been allowed for three and half months. On coming to court the Magistrate thought the case too trifling and dismissed the charge with cost. 

From 1940 until late 1945 the Blue Bus Service operated by  Mr. Cole was also subject to strict fuel rationing curtailing the Windsor to Eton Wick service, the last bus of the day being 9pm.

Travel difficulties experienced by the village were not helped by the influx of wartime inhabitants. The inadequate bus service made it difficult to get to work or to other activities. Often the bus coming from Dorney to Windsor was full on reaching Eton Wick which brought forth angry complaints from the village residents Eventually letters were sent to the Traffic Commissioners about the inadequacy of service by the Eton U.D.C. but no improvements resulted from these complaints and stronger action would follow by the village community in 1944.

Is your journey really necessary?

This reminder appeared on posters at many railway stations. Non-essential travel was discouraged because of military requirements. In 1943 some seaside beaches that had been closed as an anti-invasion measure were again opened to the public, there was no rush as travel on overcrowded trains and very limited seaside accommodation made holidays difficult. The innovation of "Holidays at Home", an organized week of activities by the local councils and voluntary organizations, helped munitions and other workers to enjoy their annual weeks’ summer holiday. Military displays, sport meetings, fun fairs, concerts and displays showing some of the local war production were held on Agars Plough during the week. Large gatherings were attracted to these entertainments.

Army Gymnastic team  giving a display during a ‘Holiday at Home Week’.

Displays of all types by the armed services were put on to recruit Men and women 

for wartime services and also supporting special National savings weeks 

On the declaration of war, the Government had commandeered the railways and some motor transport for the movement of military personnel and other essential war supplies. Whereas the proportion of passenger traffic to goods pre-war had been in the ratio of 80% to 20%, the ratio was now became reversed. A poster campaign constantly reminded civilian passengers that munitions and troop movement together with food and fuel had priority. The reduced number of passenger trains gave rise to longer journey times than normal. Blackout regulations, air raids, and the huge number of passengers traveling, often with as many standing as sitting. Service personnel often travelled with their full military kit which took up as much room as a normal passenger which made for uncomfortable travelling. During air raids, trains stopped at the first station they arrived at, allowing passengers to alight if they wished. Servicemen and women returning to their units from leave had to make an early start back in case they arrived at their camps late and were charged with being absent. 

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


Monday 27 November 2023

Photographic History of Eton Wick and Eton - The Eton Wick Methodist Sisterhood

This photograph was taken c1960. Back row (heads only visible): Mrs Slaymaker, Mrs Gardner, Miss Majorie Morris, Mrs Lily Jacobs (probably) Third row: Mrs Sophie Chamberlain, Mrs Jacobs, Miss Mary Ayres, Mrs Brown, unidentified Second row: Mrs Harris, Mrs Woodley, Mrs Paice, unidentified. The child is believed to be A. Higgins, grandson of Mrs Woodley. Front row: Mrs G Kelly, Mrs Dobson. 

This interesting old photograph is a mystery, leaving much to be guessed at. It is possibly an Empire Day gathering, some time between 1906 and 1910. The location, with the railway viaduct in the background is certainly at, or near to the south side of Eton Recreation Ground. The new Recreation Ground at that time would probably not have had the benefit of hedges, as it was all formerly Lammas land. 

The assembly of presumably Eton Porny school children and absence of uniformed boy scouts suggests it predates the Scout movement of 1908 (or 1910, if the formation of the Eton troop is allowed for). The flags, adults and speaker leads one to believe it was an Empire Day Assembly, a national celebration day inaugurated in 1902, May 24th to commemorate the birthday of the late Queen Victoria. 

This article was first published in A Pictorial History of Eton Wick & Eton.

Monday 20 November 2023

Development of Eton Wick

Map of 1797
copied from The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 - 1977
From its origins as a farming area of the Manor of Eton the earliest dwellings were built on the highest land north of the Great Eton Common. From the 14th century to the 18th century the six farmhouses continued that development. The 1797 map indicates houses on the southern side of Common Lane including the Three Horseshoes.

The first half of the 19th century brought further house building including the Parsonage, Bell Farm Cottages, Harding Cottages and Prospect Place. Most of these were rented to working class tenants. As the century progressed more houses were built some on the gardens of the cottages facing the Great Common. These included Hope Cottages, Palmers Place and others. 

The largest development began in 1880’s on some of the land of Bell Farm where Boveney Newtown grew with Alma, Inkerman and Northfield roads, and Moores Lane. The development was beyond the western edge of the Parish of Eton which at that time was Bell Lane. As recorded in the 1881 census when there were there household it grew and grew. By 1911 there were 125 households, two more than Eton Wick.


Ordnance Survey Map 1899 courtesy of National Library of Scotland

By 1899 there were two distinct communities with the land south of Alma Road and west of the Eton Parish mostly undeveloped. A few houses were on the south side of the Eton Wick Road including the Shepherds Hut and Victoria Road was outlined. The 1925 map shows further development south of Alma Road.


Ordnance Survey Map 1925 courtesy of National Library of Scotland

Ordnance Survey Map 1932 courtesy of National Library of Scotland

The inter war years saw some development south of Alma Road including a few houses in  Tilstone Avenue and Close.

Map showing rights under the Commons Registration Act of 1965 
copied from The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 - 1977

This map indicates that there were six registered Commoners under the 1965 Act. These included Crown Farm, Dairy Farm, Little Common Farm, Manor Farm and Saddocks Farm.

Ordnance Survey Map 1968 courtesy of National Library of Scotland

The 1968 map reveal the limits of the village development with Haywards Mead, Princes Close, Queens Road and Cornwall Close filling the remaining available land on the south side of the Eton Wick Road. The final major development in the village was on the wheatbutts in the 1970's.


Ordnance Survey Map 2023 courtesy of National Library of Scotland

The latest OS map of 2023 show how the village development has been restrained by the Lammas Land and Commons. The number of households was also limited by the single road that restricts potential for evacuation in the case of flooding. The experience of the Thames floods of 2014 showed that the Jubilee River did protect the village. There has been more house building allowed including particularly in Princes Close, Queens Road and Victoria Road.

Enclosure Map courtesy of the Berkshire Records Office.

Both Slough to the north and Windsor to the south have both grown as enclosure acts were passed for the Manor of Upton cum Chalvey, 1819 and the Manor of Windsor Forest, 1817. If the 1826 Bill to enclose the Manor of Eton cum Stockdale and Colenorton had not been rejected Eton Wick would probably have become part of Slough.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Eton Wick Remembers the Fallen

East Face

Henry Ashman  1993  21/08/1915  Gallipoli
Cyril Ashman  746  26/10/1917  Passchendaele
George Baldwin  16671  24/04/1918  Amiens 
George Bolton  7993  24/09/1915  Loos
Alfred Brown  11811  31/07/1917  Ypres
Ernest Brown  T/202287  24/10/1917  Passchendaele
Angus Bruce  19160   27/03/1918  Arras
Thomas Bryant  9813  11/11/1914  Ypres
Fredrick Buckland  G/3615  17/12/1914  illness
Arthur Bunce  39794  17/07/1917  Ypres
Albert Caesar  12472  01/09/1914  Villers

Omar Brown  6912447  21/11/1941  Libya
Clifford Chew  116439  24/3/1945   Luxembourg
William Farmer  1603478  10/4/1944  United Kingdom

North Face

Frank Church  3760  19/07/1916  Somme
John Clark  630936  23/04/1917  Roeux
Fred Colbourn  185017  31/10/1918  illness
Horace Dobson  32908  15/07/1918  illness
Charles Godwin  2556  08/06/1918  Arras
Charles Hammerton  5335  09/10/1916  Somme
Henry Hill  K/18991  03/09/1917  Chatham air raid
Robert Hobrough  40782  30/09/1917  Passchendaele
Arthur Iremonger  7937  25/12/1915  Loos
Ernest Jordan  33180  20/08/1916  Iraq
Charles Miles  K/25314  09/07/1917  HMS Vanguard
Harry Quarterman  7570  30/10/1918  Asfold POW camp

John Flint  T/I27600  19/5/1943  Italy
William George  1529768  14/11/1942  Egypt
Richard Hood  5385945  13/5/1944  Italy
Thomas A McMurray  105151  17/6/1940  France

West Face

Henry Moss  M2/097873  21/10/1918  Roisel
James Newell  1232  11/04/1917  Arras
Joseph Newell  9534  24/05/1917  Turkey POW Camp
Walter Payne  12050  12/03/1916  Ploegsteert Woods
George Percy  34891  15/04/1918  Outtersteene Ridge
Herbert Pithers  24307  28/02/1917  Ancre
Arthur Richardson  10060  02/05/1915  Gallipoli
Joseph Springford  94017  15/02/1918  Passchendaele
Isaac Springford  197731  02/07/1918  Orpington
Albert Stallwood  4176  24/10/1918  Wassigny
Peter Knight  30958  26/10/1915  Aegean Sea

William Prior  5434  22/8/1947  England
William Pates  1152080  15/1/1943  France
Albert Prior  7689948  12/11/1943  Burma
George Prior  14603226  13/12/1947  England

This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  

and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

A. E. PRIOR - Corps of Military Police

Albert Edward Prior (Lance Corporal No. 7689948) Corps of Military Police

Albert was born on Boxing Day 1912. He had a younger brother Thomas, and two sisters named Annie and Joan. The family home was at 7, Bell Cottages, Alma Road, Boveney Newtown. As with the majority of Eton Wick lads, he attended the village infants school until he was seven years old, and on April 13th 1920 he registered at Eton Porny School where he continued his elementary education until he was 14. On leaving school he was apprenticed to Goddards of Eton as a carpenter and cabinet maker. Upon completion of his apprenticeship he was employed by Eton College as a qualified tradesman.

Albert liked football and competed in the boys' Easter Monday five-a-side competition for sons of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers of the Great War living in Eton Wick, Boveney or Dorney. There were two other Prior families living in Boveney Newtown and in South View. All were related and all had a strong affiliation with St. John the Baptist Church of Eton Wick. Albert, his brother Tom and their cousins all sang in the church choir, and his uncle served as the church verger for many years. Albert acquired his first motorcycle, an old A.J.S. machine which caused him constant and frustrating trouble with its kick-start. Later he changed the model for a more up to date Sunbeam and his troubles were over.

With the threat of war during the late 1930s he became an A.R.P. (Air Raid Precaution) warden, and was invited to take employment in an aircraft factory at Langley. Had he chosen to accept this change of employment his skills would certainly have ensured exemption from military service. As a result of working in Eton he met and married Dorothy in 1938. They settled into their smart new semi-detached house in Moores Lane and being close to Albert's family home in Alma Road they aptly name the house "Nearome".

The following summer saw the start of W.W.II. and Albert, now 27, was soon to be in uniform. His sister said he was loathe to take up arms with intent to kill, and if in fact this was so, it may explain his decision to join the Corps of Military Police. Previously his motor cycling had been very local, but now came a period when as a military policeman he was required to escort military convoys throughout the British Isles.

In January 1941 Dorothy gave Albert a baby son to think about, and the early days were anxious ones. Fortunately a supportive family was close by. Perhaps now Albert was wishing he had taken the job offered him at Langley. Twice he made very brief visits to his wife and baby son, Christopher, before making the last farewell for overseas service. It has not been satisfactorily established whether he went direct to the Far East, to India as his sister Joan has stated, or to the Middle East as his son thinks probable. The following year he sent a telegram postmarked from Sansorigine and dated January 14th 1942, briefly saying:


This was probably from a transit place in the Far East, for three weeks later Dorothy received another telegram, this time post marked from Singapore and dated February 9th 1942 saying:


There could not have been a worse time to arrive in Singapore, for just six days later General Percival surrendered the island garrison of 85,000 men to the advancing Japanese Army. They had infamously attacked the Americans at Pearl Harbour on December 7th 1941, entered Burma on the 11th December, taken Hong Kong on Christmas Day and Kuala Lumpur on January 10th. In theory at least, the swift Japanese advance had left them with an attacking force inadequate to conquer Singapore and the early surrender was never expected. The 85,000 prisoners of war were terribly misused and ill fed, with many thousands dying of disease, sickness and malnutrition. It was 15 months later that Dorothy received the first official information in a brief letter from the C.M.P. Record Office dated May 26th 1943, reporting Albert to be a P.O.W. in Japanese hands at Malai Camp. More than two years elapsed before she received a further notification dated October 25th 1945, reporting that he had died of colitis on November 12th 1943.

Albert Prior is buried in Thanbyuzayak Military Cemetery in Burma, 116 miles south east of Rangoon. The cemetery contains nearly 4,000 graves, which include 1,700 British, 1,350 Australian, 15 Indian, 80 Malayan and over 600 Dutch. Unlike most C.W.G.C. cemeteries the graves are marked by bronze plaques. Albert's grave is No. 4, Row D, Plot B.6. 

His widow Dorothy did not marry again. She continued to live in the home they had established together for the next 40 years before moving to the West Country to be near her son, Christopher. For many years she was a Sunday School teacher in Eton Wick. Albert is commemorated on the village memorial situated in front of the church, where he had sung as a choir boy and later as a man. His name is also on the memorial plaque attached to the Village Hall.

Albert Prior's page on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

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