Monday, 28 December 2015

7 'New' Shops Opened For Business In 1951

7 shops on Eton Wick Road

The 'new' shops, Eton Wick In 1951 the Eton Urban District Council built a parade of seven shops in what had been the Brewers (Meux) Field alongside the Shepherds Hut. Before these shops the village had been supplied by mobile traders and a few individual shops scattered throughout the community, most of which were adapted homes.

These traders served the village well and in many respects it was to be regretted that the new purpose built shops would in time displace the older businesses. The shops both old and new in Eton and Eton Wick at that time were service shops supplying daily essentials such as meat, fish, groceries, fruit and vegetables, and dairy, bakery and chemist products. By the end of the 20th century, this service trade was fast vanishing from the local streets, as car ownership and supermarkets became the norm.

The first businesses to take up occupancy in 1951 were (from the nearest shop in the photo): Barnes (wet fish and game), Arnold's (butchers), O'Flaherty (chemist), Clinch (bakery), Darville's (grocery), Anderson (newsagent and tobacco), and Bond (greengrocery). When Doreen Tarrant (née Clinch) retired, Darvilles expanded into this unit, the wet fish shop became a fish and chip shop (now also a Chinese take-away) and the butcher's became a hairdresser's salon.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Public Houses and Outings - The Shepherds Hut

Shepherds Hut Darts Team 1947/48
For many years the 'Hut' was well known for having a strong darts team. The team above, pictured with their trophies in 1947/8 are, from the left: George Mumford (village butcher), J Dalby, 'Joby' Milton (father of Pam Jaycock, pictured elsewhere in the book), Walter Stacey (Team Captain), George Giles, Wally Gregory (later to become landlord of the Grapes), Les Lovegrove, Albert Hood and Fred Millis.

A Shepherds Hut outing in the mid-1950s. 
The 'Hut' outings to the coast had a reputation for the generous dry and wet refreshments that were provided. Those enjoying the traditional stop en route are, front row from left to right: Walt Woolhouse, Albert Hood, Dennis Robson, Spike Robson (father), Landlord Bill Colbourne; Jim Marshall (Dorney Court Farm Ploughman) is between Spike and Bill, and on the extreme right is John North (Blue Bus driver); the man on the right wearing a top hat has not been identified. Bill Colbourne was landlord from 1932 to around 1960. 

An earlier (1912) Shepherds Hut group. 
At the back: Ted Hammerton, George Kirby and Jack Try. Second row: Jack Wilson, A Woolhouse, Jack Binfield, M Keen, Fred Pert, Fred Wilson (no relation to Jack), the man in the cap with a pipe is not identified, 'Pony' Moore and G Attride. Front row: Fred Stacey, Mr Hammerton (Sen.), Bill Stacey and Mr Porter. (Fred and Bill Stacey were the landlord's sons and Mr Hammerton their great uncle). Jack Try, following his 1914/18 War service discharge founded the Windsorian Coach Company. Fred Pert became the organising secretary of the newly formed Boys' Five a Side Football Competition for the sons of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers. 

The Shepherds Hut, c1920. 
The Staceys were landlords from 1899 to 1932. William Stacey died in November 1918. His widow kept the pub for a further fourteen years. Daughter Jennie Stacey, (later Harman) is in this photo. William Colbourne took over from Mrs Stacey. The pub became a Meux house, then Friary Meux, Ind Coope and, now, Fullers. 

Shepherds Hut Field, adjoining the pub belonged to the brewers, and was rented out for work horses. A Pelhams Funfair was held in it annually. In 1951 the Council built the parade of seven shops, followed some time later by the Princes Close housing development. A small portion of the field remains at the back of the pub. 

The Stacey family.

Left to right, starting at the back: Edith (daughter), Bill (son), Roger, Bill (father), Walter, Nora, Mrs Stacey (landlady from 1918 to 1932 following her husband's death), Jennie and Fred. During the same period, another Stacey widow, with her son Jack, ran the Grapes (now the Pickwick). 

Bill Colbourne

Bill became landlord of the Shepherds Hut in 1932 and kept a very popular house for approximately the next 25 years. Here he is pictured drawing free pints for the pub's day trippers to the coast. 'Jock' Lockhart is behind Bill with a glass of beer in his hand. Jock was an ex-Scots Guardsman, married to local girl Grace Harman, and worked for builders J T Ireland as a carpenter. 

Public Houses and Outings - The Shepherds Hut is an extract from A photographic history of Eton Wick & Eton 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Parish Boundaries

As there were few accurate maps it became the custom, and was even ordered by Elizabeth I, to beat the bounds of the parish annually. These were often colourful occasions, full of hymn singing and chanting.  Marks were made appropriate trees and buildings and, where necessary, the procession took to the boats to follow the boundary in mid-Thames. Exactly when the parish boundary was first defined is not known, but the route taken in 1605 can still be recognised as basically that of the ecclesiastical boundary before the addition of Boveney in 1911. The parish was much smaller than that of the pre-1974 Eton Urban District and the present Town Council area. The 1605 perambulation is given below and where appropriate the modern place names have been added in brackets. It is difficult, however, to interpret what the surveyor meant by the farms, for the two farmhouses     mentioned did not lie near the parish boundary. Perhaps he only meant to imply the farmland.

The surveyor stated, 'Beginning at the Church (College Chapel) we go to Windsor Bridge and taking the lane (possibly Brocas Street) by the house of Robert Payne, we go along the Thameside up as far as Tyilstone Gate (possibly by Boveney Bridge or across the road opposite the Village Hall) and then to the farm of the King's now in the occupation of Matthew Bell (Mustians) from where we go to another in the Wick occupied by Henry Bell (Saddocks) and so we go into Little Common as far as Dragon Elm, we go along the North Field and Chalvey Ditch until we come to a bridge near College called Stone Bridge. Then encompassing the College land called Shooting Field, Wharf Close, the Playing Fields and the College, we come to the Church where we first began'.

A further account of a perambulation, this time of 1815, describes the procession as consisting of the Rev Mr Roper (as chaplain to the Provost), the Steward of the Manor, the parish officials, the charity children and inhabitants. Their day began with breakfast of roast and boiled beef provided by the Provost and Fellows, and they probably needed it, for although Eton is a comparatively small parish the walk and boat ride must have taken several hours.  At one point the procession 'went through the door of the house of William Lanfear and out through another. Almost certainly this was one of the Bell Farm cottages which stood until 1969 at the junction of Bell Lane and Alma Road. Their gardens straddled the boundary and in the nineteenth century they were sometimes included in the Census of Boveney and sometimes that of Eton.

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Blue Bus Service

Until the Blue Bus Service started around 1922, villagers walked to Windsor, and schoolboys to Eton. If they were lucky they got a lift on a horse and trap, or cart. The first bus was quite small with a bench seat each side for the passengers. This, and subsequent buses up to the 1930s, were entered by steps and handrails at the back. The service was very popular as it ran at all times and in all weather. It frequently pulled up at any point between specified bus stops to pick up or drop off passengers and always found room for everybody. Late buses after the cinemas and shops closed were often packed with as many standing passengers squeezed together as were seated. In the mid-1930s, another service known as 'The Marguerite' (cream and brown livery) plied the same routes between Windsor Castle, Eton, Eton Wick, Dorney and, less frequently, to Maidenhead. The Marguerite service only lasted a few years. Ultimately the increase in family car ownership slowly forced the successful Blue Bus Service into decline.

Among the popular drivers with the Blue Bus Service there were, as well as Bert and his son, Ted Jeffries, John North, John Bell, Bill Mitchell and Gerry Austin. Gerry is pictured standing in front of one of the Blue Buses (the man on the left) in the photograph. During WWII, Gerry drove ambulance vehicles for London Transport, often bringing wounded servicemen from the docks. After the war he drove the Blue Buses, and then worked for the council, often sporting a top hat for special occasions.

Blue Bus Service proprietor,
Mr Bert Cole on his retirement in 1966.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

End of the village based milk round

Pam Jaycock and Joan Cooley with the electric milk float.

In September 1993 Bill and Joan Cooley decided to retire from business of delivering milk to homes in Eton Wick. As they say in their letter they asked Express Dairy to take over their delivery round. Here are images of the letters announcing this change.

The Delivering Milk article gives more details about the history of the dairy men and women of Eton Wick. Click here to read the article.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Dorney Common anti-aircraft battery 1940-45.

Dorney Common anti-aircraft battery site plan. 

The first territorial anti-aircraft (ack-ack) unit arrived on the Dorney Common site in June 1940. Other local sites included the tower mounted 40mm on the Brocas, Eton. This photograph is of the 564(M) AA. Battery stationed on Dorney Common during 1943/4. The troop manning the 3.7 heavy ack-ack guns shot down a German ME 410 on the night of February 23/24th 1944. The raider crashed in High Wycombe. A number of the service personnel, male and female, married local villagers and set up home in Eton Wick. 

The Nissen huts of the Dorney Common anti-aircraft battery.
When the army left in 1946, the acute shortage of domestic homes caused demobilised local men to 'squat' and set up home in the disused huts. Their new homes and furniture were almost immediately ruined by the 1947 floods, when the residents were evacuated by boat. This picture was taken in March 1947. The huts were still occupied in the 1950s. 

Three of the war-time ATS girls in front of their Nissen hut home on Dorney Common. The camp and the 3.7 inch anti-aircraft guns were located along the brook, starting immediately adjacent to the south side of the Eton Wick cattle grid. 

The Armoury 
This was the only building of the wartime Dorney common ack-ack site 1940-45 that was within the boundary of Eton Wick. It stood in what is now the garden of No 22 Tilstone Close. After the army vacated the camp in 1945 this building was taken by Eton Urban Council for accommodation, the residents being Mr and Mrs McGill. 

The vacant huts of Dorney camp became squatter residence before coming under the control of Eton Rural Council. The camp buildings were removed in 1950 having been damaged by the 1947 flood and also having deteriorated beyond use, the land was then restored. 

Friday, 23 October 2015


Peter Leo Knight (Gunner No. 30958) - Ammunition Column - Royal Field Artillery - 29th Division.

Peter was born in 1888, and married an Eton girl, Ellen Eliza Sable, on August 5th 1911 when he was 23 years old. He apparently gave the army his parents' address at 108, High Street, Cheriton, Kent, and it is possible that Peter himself was a Kent man, because no local reference to him has been found until his wedding in 1911. It is believed that he and Ellen Eliza made their home at 4, Meadow Lane, Eton. Certainly his widow was living there after the war. There are a number of ponderable points to Peter's story, and the address is but one of them.

One month after the outbreak of the Great War, in September 1914, he was listed in the Parish Magazine as serving in the army. He had one son named Horace. # The Commonwealth War Graves Commission states that he chose to serve under the name of Knighton. There is no apparent reason for adopting a changed name, and this is yet another of the ponderable points.

Peter was a gunner on an ammunition column in the Royal Field Artillery with the 29th Division. This Division was the last of three which were formed in Britain at this time comprising troops of regular serving Battalions returned from overseas service. Half of the 29th's twelve Battalions were English and were the 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 1st Lancashire Fusiliers, 1st Border Regiment, 2nd Hampshires, 4th Worcesters, and 1st Essex. Like other Infantry Divisions they additionally had attachments of Artillery, Army Service Corp, medics etc.

The 29th Division was a famous Division in W.W.I and in April 1915 was the first to go ashore at Cape Helles, Gallipoli. On landing they were faced with strong barbed wire defenses and were mown down by Turkish guns while attempting to cut a way through. The Division artillery was inadequately supplied with shells and was consequently ineffective. Unfortunately the Gallipoli campaign was ill prepared, and by December of the same year the allies had decided to evacuate all the troops. Before this realistic decision was made the 29th had been moved up the west coast of the peninsula in support of a fresh attempt that was launched at Suvla Bay, in August 1915.

In September the allies agreed to send British and French troops to Salonika in Greece, taking two British and one French Division from Gallipoli in support of that country, which felt threatened by a German supported Bulgarian attack on neighbouring Serbia. Had the three Divisions been sent from Gallipoli the campaign there would have been seriously denuded of much needed men and resources. In the event just one British and one French Division was taken. The 29th Division remained on the peninsula until the end of December 1915 when the general evacuation took place.

Peter Knight was drowned on October 23rd 1915 when the transport ship H.T. Marquette was sunk in the Aegean Sea by a U-Boat. There were 99 lost in this incident and most of them were Indian troops. Perhaps this was a draft of men to re-inforce the 29th Division, in which case Peter had not actually served in action at Gallipoli. If he had served in that theatre of war, then he was en route to Salonika as part of the detachment. U-Boats had been very active in Aegean Sea lanes between Gallipoli and Greece, and on September 14th had torpedoed the British troop ship Royal Edward with the loss of 1,000 lives.

Peter is commemorated on the Mikra Memorial, Salonika, Greece. The memorial commemorates 478 missing and is situated in the Mikra British Cemetery, which itself contains 1,962 graves from the 1914-18 war. Peter was 27 years old.

Another small mystery concerns the Eton Wick Memorial. At the time of the dedication and unveiling service on March 13th 1920, Peter's name did not appear on the form of service and more importantly was not on the memorial. Probably this was due to having an Eton town home address. His name was added some months later, after consideration of the fact he had enlisted from Boveney.

Unfortunately the addition is not in alphabetical order, as were the original inscribed names, but appears at the foot of the west panel. His name is also on the Eton Church Gates. Peter left a widow and one son. His widow married again and became Mrs Brant.

Grave Registration Report
Panel List

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

Monday, 19 October 2015


A few years ago, in the course of researching a subject, a member of the Eton Wick History Group asked an Eton College Secretary what difference the College had had on the village. The reply was "None, the College has never tried to influence the village". That may well be, but having an influence and setting out to influence are two very different things. I grew up in Eton Wick during the 1920's and 30's. Like the other lads in the village, this necessitated walking through the College to the Eton Porny School in the middle of the High Street. All boys between the ages of 7 and 14 years went to Eton Porny School unless they had qualified for the Slough Grammar School or the Eton College Choir School. Most of us walked the distance of a little over one mile, three times a day. There were no school meals and we were given the one penny bus fare to get us home for dinner - we walked back and, of course, home again at 4 o'clock.

There were many large families of six or more children - in our family eight - and it seemed perfectly natural that girls when 14 years old - school leavers, should be sent into service at the College where they were required to 'live in'. In my case, I and four younger brothers were all still attending school while three older sisters and an unmarried Aunt provided our living space by working in the College. Their conditions would seem intolerable by today's measure but were certainly not unusual terms of employment at that time. In 1927 my older sister went into College service at the age of 14 years. The days started at 6 a.m. and ended at 9.30 p.m. There was no full day off duty during the school term, but once a week she was off duty between 2.30 p.m. and 10 p.m., by which time she had to be in the house again. She was off duty alternate Sundays between 2.30 p.m. and 10 p.m. The salary was £13 p.a., approximately 36p a week in present day terms. She was required to provide her own uniform of black frock with white collar and cuffs, black stockings and shoes, and a white can. When out of the College houses, servants were always obliged to wear stockings and if walking beyond the point known as the 'Burning Bush' to always wear a hat. Servants were not permitted to acknowledge the boys in the street who they daily waited upon at table.

The living space though was not our only benefit. We never wanted for cricket bats, pads, gloves, balls and even the occasional rugby ball. We also had elastic propelled planes, books in abundance and foreign stamps; these were all thrown away by the College boys as were their coloured house caps and other garments. Most local lads derived benefits in these forms, and although the pads were not always a pair, and the bats were often in need of binding, it was all of a quality that we would not otherwise have acquired. I well remember receiving a book of British Wild Birds in my Christmas stocking, and it mattered not that I guessed Santa had influence in the College. Families in Eton and Eton Wick often purchased dripping from the cooks at about fourpence a basin; this seemed a permissible perk, but it probably stopped at that for I do not remember other food handouts.

Eton Wick has always been a working class village having no big houses or a village squire to give
financial support to deserving causes; however, there was one such person in the past - Edward L. Vaughan. He generously provided a superb Village Hall with the land, promoted the early Eton Wick and Boveney Scout movement, financially supported football and cricket, the Church, the Sunday School and it outings, the Horticultural Society and some of its awards, and much more besides. Mr Vaughan, 'Toddy' as he was well known, died over 50 years ago, but for another 50 years previously he had inspired the village and left it a better place. This article is not about Eton College, but I would never agree that the village, a mile west, has not been influenced by it in these and many other ways.

Eton and Eton Wick are believed to predate the College by several hundred years. Their place names are Saxon in origin and believed to refer to the proximity of the river and its many streams creating an eyot, or island, upon which the inhabitants set up dwellings. Eton Wick is low, and being so close to the Thames very floodable throughout its history. Early settlers would obviously have built upon the marginally higher ground on the north of a stream running through the old village from west to east, and in fact farms and farm buildings still do occupy those drier positions. 

Manor Farm, together with the manor was purchased by John Penn in 1793. About this time the Crown Commissioners, also appreciable land owners, had thoughts concerning the enclosure of the Common and Lammas lands to the east and north of Eton Wick. Penn endeavoured to push an Enclosure Bill through Parliament which would, had it succeeded, left us with a very different village today. Fortunately, the Bill was defeated in 1823, and there was much celebration in Eton and Eton Wick. Nearly 200 local people had signed or marked the petition opposing the enclosure of their common usage grazing lands. Perhaps nothing is exclusively advantageous, and certainly Eton Wick now found it difficult to grow. The Commons and extensive Lammas lands could not be built upon unless there was unanimous agreement or a Parliamentary Bill, and west of the village boundary was the Parish of Burnham, which few probably thought to build upon. 

For four decades after the defeat of Penn's Bill additional homes were added by the purchase of large garden plots and houses - often terraced - were squeezed into the available space. Then, during the early 1880's, farmland to the west of Eton Wick, and in the Parish of Burnham was bought by a Mr Ayes who sold the plots, laid out roads and by the turn of the century the village had doubled its size and population.

Strictly speaking, perhaps one should say 'villages' because this growth beyond the old village boundary of Bell Lane was now to be known as 'Boveney Newtown'; it was to have its own Council and in many ways to be independent of Eton Wick. The first years of 'Newtown' as it was generally known, caused its residents to look to distant Burnham for spiritual guidance or to support their own Primitive Methodist Chapel being built. In 1892 Boveney Newtown came under the Vicar of Eton, and by special arrangement residents could now be buried in Eton Wick - not yet though would the two communities be regarded as one. 

In 1907 the great village benefactor, Edward L Vaughan, gave the land and Institute which being sited close to the border of the two communities was very appropriately named 'The Eton Wick and Boveney Institute' (now the Village Hall) - likewise the Scouts, with other organisations, and the War Memorial etc; all named themselves 'Eton Wick and Boveney'. This is no longer necessary as for over 60 years we have been one village in the same parish. Only in historic matters is there a division which occasionally one complains about. No householder west of Bell Lane (Boveney Newtown) receives any benefit from old Eton Charities, and of course really has no benefit of grazing rights on Lammas lands or Commons. This is of no consequence, however, as the days of rights and obligations associated with the said lands have for most practical purposes gone.  

People moving into Eton Wick often do so because they feel surrounded by fields and commons, and have the Thames within five minutes walk yet are still able to reach towns quickly. Without the Commons and Lammas lands so jealously guarded by earlier generations, we may perhaps be another part of Greater Slough. Other villages such as Cippenham, Chalvey, Farnham and Upton, have all lost their rural identity.

The growth of Eton Wick into Boveney Newtown, and beyond, has almost reached its limit of expansion. After World War II hundreds of houses and new streets brought many new villagers. To a large extent this was a shift of population within the Eton Parish, as many of Eton's own residents were moved into the village. Interestingly, if we look at the population nationwide in 1842 it was 5 million and is now tenfold. Reading was 19,000 and 150,000, London 1.5 million now 7.5 million; Bristol 65,000 now 440,000 - we could go on, but Eton was 3,409 and is still perhaps less than 4,000. The farms have unfortunately largely declined, and the few village ponds have vanished but there is still a feeling of being a 'Wicker' -one is still a villager!

This article was prepared by Frank Bond and presented to an Eton Wick History Group meeting in 1994.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

18th Century Cottager in the Wick

The early years of the Century were hard for families getting their subsidence from the land and for those few families living in the Wick the daily toil brought its woes and ill health. They were prey to many killer diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, influenza and tuberculosis to say nothing of accidents. There was also a high risk to women dying in childbirth.

Cottages built in Eton Wick were timbered framed with infilling of brick and cob. The floors of stone slab or compacted earth covered with rush mats with an open wood burning fireplace and lighting by candle or perhaps an oil lamp provided warmth and lighting in the small dim rooms.

Clothing was mainly home made by wives and daughters of the family and a variety of footwear such as leather boots, canvas shoes, wooden sandals and clog type shoes dependent on the family financial status was worn by those working on the land. The more successful farmer or small holder no doubt could afford to buy footwear, but often for the poorer it would be hand me downs or go barefoot.

With a water supply from well, pond or river health and cleanliness were two factors that suffered. Fleas and head lice were prevalent. The passing years brought slow improvement.

During the century to those living in Eton and Eton Wick, trade increased in Eton with new premises opening with tailors and dress makers, boot and shoe makers, together with other trades. These were family businesses where young people from Eton Wick found employment, and with the change in their financial fortune left the land to the more successful farmer.

By the year 1830 there were approximately seventy professional business services and shops in the Eton High Street supplying local needs and hand made goods to the London shops.

The increasing local trade and wealth gave rise to house building in Eton Wick as the century drew to its close continuing during the 19th and 20th centuries until all available land free of Lammas rights or common land within the Wick had been taken for building.

This is an extract from research undertaken by John Denham for at lecture to the WEA at Windsor entitled "18th Century Eton Wick within the environs of Eton."

Thursday, 24 September 2015

George Edward Bolton - Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

George Edward Bolton (No. 7993) - 2nd Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry - 5th Brigade - 2nd Division

George was born on July 28th 1889, the second son of William and Louisa Bolton. It was about this time the family moved home from Curlew Cottages in Northfield Road, Boveney Newtown, to Clyde Place, a semi-detached house along the main village road and near to the Three Horse Shoes public house. Several times the family moved while George, together with sister Sophie, were growing up. Apart from the Clyde Place move, the other homes were in Boveney Newtown.

William, the father, was a butcher by trade and for many years was employed in a corner shop on Windsor's Castle Hill. The shop was complete with its own abattoir at the rear of the premises. For a few years he had his own meat business in Alma Road, Boveney Newtown. This later became a general stores, and was in the Shakespere Place terraced row.
Both parents were strong churchgoers: father William attending St. John the Baptist where he was a sidesman, and Louisa attending the Methodist Chapel. Whether George followed his father, or went to chapel with his mother and sister Sophie, is not known. Certainly when he was five years old he attended the Eton Wick Infant School, and at the age of seven he followed the normal village practice for boys, and went to Eton Porny. In 1903 at the age of 14 years he left school for work.
It is believed brother Bill became a regular peacetime soldier, although no evidence has been found to suggest George did likewise. In 1915 the family are recorded as living in No. 4 Primrose Villa, Alma Road. If George was not a full time soldier, he certainly wasted no time in volunteering to serve following the outbreak of the war. He enlisted in Slough. The Parish Magazine lists him as serving by September 1914. His unit, 2nd Battalion Oxford and Buckinghamshire L.I., was a regular Battalion and is recorded as landing in Boulogne 10 days after the declaration of war August 14th. Allowing that George was not a peacetime soldier, and consequently would have needed several months training, we will look at the Battalion's service from 1915, by which time it is reasonable to presume he would have joined his unit. His Brigade and Division were with the I Corps in September 1915 and preparing to attack the strong German defences in the opening phase of the Battle of Loos. It took several days to assemble the many Divisions and all their necessary supplies. The attack was planned to commence at 06.30 on September 25th 1915.
The Oxford and Bucks L.I. together with the other units in the 5th Brigade were stationed on the extreme left flank and their line of attack was toward La Bassee. It was here the British planned to use chlorine gas for the first time. Over 5,500 gas cylinders had to be moved to the front and this alone involved 8,000 men, all toiling away under difficult and dangerous conditions. Forty minutes before the attack was due to be launched, the gas was released. Instead of the expected wind blowing the gas across No Man's Land and into the German lines, an early morning change of wind blew much of it back into the British trenches. Unexpected casualties hampered the attack. George Bolton was at least spared this, as he was killed the day before.
In all probability he was killed during the process of assembling the many thousands of men in the "line" for the early attack next day. Perhaps it was shrapnel, or a sniper's bullet that took his life, but we do not know. The cemetery .where he is buried is very close to the Battalion assembly point. He was a single man aged 26 years. He is buried in Guards Cemetery Windy Corner, Cuinchy, in France.
There are 3,396 graves in this cemetery, and all but 32 are the graves of men from the United Kingdom. Private Bolton's grave is No. 2; Row E; Plot 2. He is commemorated on the family headstone in the south west corner of Eton Wick Churchyard. He is the fourth named serviceman on the Village Memorial and is also commemorated on the Eton Church Gate Memorial tablets.
His sister Sophie lived in Alma Road for the rest of her life; she faithfully served the Methodist Chapel and was very well known. She died in the early 1990s.

From the cemetery register, CWGC.

Grave stone inscriptions, CWGC.

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

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Eton College: Tudor rights and responsibilities

The Tudor period, brought to Eton College rights and responsibilities never envisaged by the Founder. These came about as a result of the new and increasing number of civil duties imposed upon the parishes by numerous Acts of Parliament. Already many parishes had vestries, that assembly of rate paying parishioners who managed the ecclesiastical affairs of the parish. Now under these Acts the parishes became responsible for the maintenance of law and order, the relief of the poor, the upkeep of the roads, and many other minor duties.  In many parishes the vestry became the unit of local government, replacing the manor court, though in others, like Eton, the two functioned side by side. In many parishes the incumbent acted as chairman at the vestry meetings, but the Provost was often a national figure, a man with responsibilities beyond that of parochial affairs, and one must suspect that the affairs of the parish took a back seat compared with those of the College and his other interests.

However, there was a vestry in Eton though few of its records have been found. Passing references in other documents reveal that it met at different times at the workhouse, the Town House owned by the Baldwin's Bridge Trust and in a room used by the Magistrates. These meetings may well always have taken place at Eton but the Wick was an integral part of the parish and villagers took their place in serving as parish officers, albeit unpaid and perhaps unwilling. The most important and hard worked of the officials were the Overseers of the Poor. Two, and later three, were needed in the parish and in the late eighteenth century, when he was a tenant farmer at Saddocks, John Atkins served in this capacity. Perhaps other villagers took their turn, for they changed each year, but the records are few; most, however, would have paid their poor rates and quite a number will have received some kind of dole or relief from the overseers when times were hard.  During the eighteenth century the number of poor needing help from the parish increased yearly and the level of rates rose correspondingly. An unfortunate few would have had to go into the workhouse.   Such workhouses were set up after the Act of 1722, and for many decades one stood in Eton; but early in the nineteenth century a new one was built on the outskirts of Eton Wick on the site of the present College sanatorium. This was soon demolished when Eton combined with other parishes in south Buckinghamshire and provided a Union Workhouse in 1836. Today this is the Upton Hospital.  Lists of pauper inmates show that a few came from the village.

The constable and tithingmen (that is petty constables) were probably still manor officials, but again people from Eton Wick can be found serving their year.  Henry Moody, who lived at Dairy Farm from the end of the seventeenth century, was a constable and Henry Sexton, another farmer, a tithingman some half century later. One can only wonder how many of their neighbours they had cause to present to the justices or even to set in the stocks or at the whipping post, such as those that now rest outside the Cockpit at Eton. These particular stocks came from Clewer, but Eton's own stood in the High Street until the middle of nineteenth century.

The churchwardens of Eton had no responsibility towards the fabric of the Chapel or the behaviour of the clergy for these were in the charge of the College but for at least two centuries they were concerned with those who did not attend church or see that their children were baptised and confirmed. In 1686 Matthew Paine of Eton Wick, with his wife and others, was presented to the Bishop as not attending church regularly, and session after session at the Quarter Sessions they were fined for being recusants (Roman Catholics).

Not surprisingly, in the four centuries or so of parochial self-government, the parish was important to its inhabitants to an extent that is difficult for us to understand today living as we do in a world of easy communications, education for  everyone, standardization and relatively impersonal local government.  It was essential to know in which parish one lived and in which each and every plot of land lay. This was not only because these were separately rated but because it was the parish officials who levied the rates and to whom they were paid.  The most important of these rates was the poor rate, but there were others such as the highway rate and the church rate.   For part of this period Acts of Parliament made it impossible for the poor to receive parish relief except in the parish in which they had settlement, in effect usually the one in which they were born, and the Quarter Sessions’ records tell the sad stories of several families removed from Eton (and Eton Wick?) by order of the justices because they had become paupers.

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

Friday, 21 August 2015

Henry Douglas Ashman (No. 1993) - A Squadron Berkshire Yeomanry

Henry Douglas Ashman (No. 1993) - A Squadron Berkshire Yeomanry
2nd South Midland Mounted Brigade - 2nd Mounted Division

Douglas, as he was usually known, was born at Tidworth in Hampshire in 1892. It is believed that his family came to Eton Wick in the late 1890's when his father Edwin went into partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr Nottage, as farmers at Dairy Farm, Common Road. It appears that the Ashman family lived at Dairy Farm, and the Nottage’s along Tilston Lane, now all part of Eton Wick Road.

Douglas was remembered as a reserved lad. He enlisted in the Territorial Force and in August 1914 he was promptly mobilised. At that time the Territorials term of service was for home defence only, but like the majority of his unmarried comrades he volunteered for overseas service. 

By the following summer the 2nd Mounted were in the Middle East, and in a letter to Mrs Nottage, his Aunt, dated August 7th 1915 and posted in Egypt, he expressed great disappointment because an expected move to the Dardanelles had just been cancelled.

At that time he was on guard at a military sanatorium just outside Cairo. The guards' rather boring job was preventing 600 convalescing Australian soldiers from breaking out of camp for a visit to Cairo. Douglas's disappointment was to be very short and the embarkation to the war zone came all too soon. Initially the Dardanelles venture was to be an attack through the narrow straits, with the intention of subduing the Turkish city of Istanbul, otherwise known as Constantinople.

Mine fields and shore batteries made this a complete and costly failure. Then, on April 25th 1915, army Divisions were landed at various beaches on the tip of the peninsula and Australian and New Zealand troops were landed on the west coast at what became known as Anzac Cove. The rough terrain made it extremely difficult for the inadequately armed forces to advance against a tough and determined defender.

Even though it had never been the intention to become deeply involved with land forces (begrudged from the Western Front) and despite very heavy casualties, more and still more troops were committed in a futile attempt to take the Gallipoli peninsula. Eventually a new attack with fresh troops was planned to be launched in August 1915 at Suvla Bay, adjoining Anzac Cove. At the outset two Divisions were involved and a third, the 2nd Mounted, was held in reserve in Egypt. The date was August 6/7th.

Any limited initial success was quickly negated when the Turks' rushed up reinforcements and regained most of their lost ground. Casualties were very high and the British troops were inadequately supplied with fresh water and heavy ammunition. The disappointment Douglas expressed in his letter of August 7th to his Aunt, referred to his being in the Egypt reserve. 

On August 18th Douglas got his wish as the 2nd Mounted sailed from Alexandria for Gallipoli. These young and raw Territorial troops were part of the 87th Brigade of the much more experienced 29th Division. They were dismounted and served as infantry as they advanced through intense heat to take up assault positions at the base of Chocolate Hill, probably so named on account of its parched and brown appearance.

On August 21st at 1800 hours they were attached to the 2nd South Midland Brigade, and attacked the slopes of Scimitar Hill from their Chocolate Hill position. Intense Turkish machine gun and rifle fire mowed the young territorials down and the dry hillside scrub became a blazing inferno, incinerating the wounded and dead alike.

Douglas perished there, with an enthusiasm for action so typical of the nation's youth, in the first real combat he experienced. The next day the remnants bowed to the inevitable and withdrew. By the end of 1915 the Dardanelles venture was an admitted failure and all the troops were successfully evacuated by January 9th 1916. The allied dead were estimated at 46,000.

Douglas Ashman's remains were never identified and therefore he has no known grave, but is officially commemorated on the Helles Memorial to the missing, at Gallipoli. His name is on panel 18/19. There are 20,765 names on the Helles Memorial, and two other memorials on the peninsula commemorate a further 4,932 and 852 men respectively. There are a further 20,560 men with known graves.

D. Ashman is the first name commemorated on the Eton Wick and Boveney Memorial and is also on the bronze commemorative plaques attached to the gates of the Parish Church in Eton. He is commemorated on the Territorials' Memorial in Windsor, which overlooks the Thames from the bowling green. He was a single man aged 23.

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

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Recall 70 Years On from VJ Day

This year of 2015 has been a year of commemorations, being 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta; 200 years since Waterloo'; 160 years since the ending of the Crimean War; 100 years since the start of the Great War and 70 years since the end of World War 2. 

Ten years ago (2005) the Village Hall, together with the History Group commemorated the end of WW2 by inviting the village veterans of that war to a Celebratory Lunch in the Village Hall. It is not known how many Eton Wick men and women served in the war time forces, although a very rough estimate of 130 is suggested. In the intervening 60 years many had moved away or died.

The occasion was largely financed by a National Lottery funded scheme known as 'The Home Front Recall United Veterans'. Fifty three ex-service persons attended the function which was kindly attended by Eton College Bursar; Commander Andrew Wynn R.N. (Retired) And the Eton Mayor Douglas Hill, also Lt. Col. M. L. Wilcockson, C.O. of the Eton College Combined Cadet Force. Many of the veterans had set up homes in Eton Wick after the war had ended, but all were now village residents, and all had served in the armed services during the conflict. All were given a souvenir book of their service titled 'Recall 60 years on'. Ten years later, in 2015, the History Group decided to present an evening; open to all; that depicted the Special Lunch and the veterans involved. Sadly many had died; become incapacitated, or were in nursing homes.

Very moving speeches had been made in 2005 and this is what prompted this article to place on record, and to serve as an appendix to the souvenir book of that year. For the follow-up event of 2015 invites were extended to 17 veterans, and 7 of these were able to attend. During the last ten years thirty four of the fifty three had died, and others found it no longer possible to attend.

Three weeks after the lunch celebration of 2005 a three day WW2 Exhibition was held in the village hall, largely due to the enthusiasm and experience of veteran John Denham. This was the third exhibition held in Eton Wick, with all of which John had been a co-organiser. The first ever was in 1977 and specifically to launch the book of the village history written by Judith Hunter, and this more than anything eventually led to the starting of the Eton Wick History Group. Sadly John has since died, but his legacy lives on. Catering for the three course lunch was organized by Mrs Margaret Everitt and her son Andrew, who were ably assisted by a team of volunteers. Margaret and Andrew also kindly provided the buffet food for the more recent History Group follow-up event.

During the 2005 lunch there were toasts and speeches by the Eton College Bursar, Commander Andrew Wynn R.N. (Retired) and by the Eton Mayor, Douglas Hill. We print here our written record of the Bursar's speech which is very slightly reduced where appropriate.

Speech by Commander Andrew Wynn LVO, RN (Retd.) at the Veterans' Dinner celebrating the 60th anniversary of VJ Day, 15th August 2005 

I spent eighteen years in the Royal Navy and traveled the world. The closest I got to a war, or anything like a war, was the 'Cold War' that thankfully never turned hot; but I was in the 'Cod War', serving in HMS APOLLO in 1973: I can remember coming on watch at 4.00 a.m. and finding waves higher than the bridge, and I can remember heavily built Icelandic gun boats ramming the thinly-plated frigates which were protecting British trawlers in waters we thought were open to all. But that was not the same as being in the way of bullets and high explosives or being in a world war.

My main sense is one of humility in standing in front of you like this, but I am honoured to do so. One of the most striking things, I think, in reading the book titled `Recall 60 Years On', is the roll call of places far and wide across the globe which resonates with the fame and deeds of British soldiers, sailors and airmen in global conflict: Dunkirk, Norway, Londonderry, Newfoundland, the Atlantic convoys, Gibraltar, Alexandria, Malta, the Mediterranean convoys, Cairo, Benghazi, Algeria, El Alamein, Tripoli, Sicily, Italy, Athens, Salerno, Anzio, Normandy, Belgium, Holland, Caen, Calais, Boulogne, Brussels, Arnhem, Bremen, Lubeck, Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, Palestine, Assyria, Aden, Port Said, Trincomalee, the North West frontier, Malaya, Lahore, Chittagong, Calcutta, Poona, Madras, Quetta, Bombay, Rangoon, Singapore, Changi, Hong Kong, the Burma railway. You know them: you were there.

 The places where men and women with connections to Eton Wick served cover this kingdom from Portreath in Cornwall to Dover in Kent and Scapa Flow in the Orkneys. Looking further to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and elsewhere, you can see that wherever there was action, there were men from Eton Wick on the land and sea or in the air, or in support of them.

You fought until Rommel left Africa; you forced up through Italy and then you fought through Normandy and on to Berlin. Of course the war did not end there: it is just as remarkable to see it reach from Eton Wick across the world to the Far East, India, Burma, Malaya, Singapore and Japan; and in fact you can see the footprints of those in this room, between 1939 and '45 right across the globe's land and oceans from East to West and North to South; and they all came back here to Eton Wick.

I was very much moved by the experiences that you had, what they meant to you, and the memories that you had and remembered with modesty: 'packing the belongings of aircrew who did not return'; 'serving in mine-sweeping trawlers in the North Sea'; 'malnourished, near-naked and amidst sickness

 and death these shadowy figures clung to life and hope'; 'an American tank very close to us exploded and blew my ambulance and me to pieces'; 'we were escorting convoys between Gibraltar and Malta which always meant three or four days of constant air attack'; 'this was the start of a wolf pack attack that took four days to fight off'; 'the stay there was mostly enjoyable apart from the funerals of numerous casualties for which I was paid a shilling extra'; 'we had to drink a pint of milk daily because we worked with acid'; 'she did find dodging buzz bombs not to her liking'; 'unfortunately, I had a further posting to a unit engaged in disposal of unsafe explosives'; 'the awesome sight of the number of dead and wounded on that beach' [Normandy, of course]; 'I was lucky on various occasions, being narrowly missed by enemy shells etc. and was witness to many fatalities'. One of you, before joining the Army, 'having helped repair damaged boats, found it exciting to take them to sea on trials, even though we often got machine gunned by German aircraft'; 'we finally left Palestine, after clearing up the dead when the Arabs and Israelis stopped fighting each other'; 'wrapping the dead in blankets and stacking them on top of one another'; 'after walking fifteen hundred miles en route to a POW Camp near Berlin we decided to escape, chose the wrong house to call on and entered the home of a German policeman'; 'I spent a long time in Egypt —four and a quarter years'; 'I read of the sinking of the ROYAL OAK and wondered who was in that ship'; I read of one of many veterans who, 'for three and a half years, worked under appalling conditions in constructing the notorious Burma railway'; one of you had 'vivid memories of moving the bodies of the congregation from the Guards' Chapel in London, after it had been hit by a flying bomb'. Hilly Hilliard there, his Mosquito was 'damaged in attacking a submarine but he made it home to base and landed without brakes and with just ten gallons of fuel left' — which is not much.

 I am going to pause at this point. Hilly had severely damaged the German U-boat, U-960, and I have a message here from the Captain of that German submarine: this is a message from Gunther Heinrich, the Commander of U-boat 960: he pays tribute to the Eton Wick veterans of World War II gathered here today; he writes: 'All warriors, friends and foes, experienced hard and tough times and yet sometimes there were happy times to remember from when they were fighting for their country.' He further says he wishes 'all the veterans an honourable and dignified day on
the 15th August at the Village Hall in remembrance of the end of the war; best wishes for a joyful get together'. He thanks the organisers of the event, and especially John Denham and Frank Bond for the booklet he received which depicts a record of the conflict. He also mentions that he and some of his crew of U-boat service pay tribute every 19th May, at the U-boat Memorial north of Hamburg, to the thirty-one men who were lost at sea when their U-960 was sunk in May 1944 in the Mediterranean. He quotes from a prayer called 'The Sailor's Grave': "Auf einem Seemansgrab, da bluhen keine Rosen" - 'There are no roses on a sailor's grave.'

A little more optimistically, I find in this book: 'I was on Luneburg Heath at the time the German generals signed the final surrender'; 'I was in Trafalgar Square on VE night'; 'back at Broken Furlong, work was resumed after a six year break'. I make no claim to voice my own experience of the passing horrors that you went through, but I do think I have at least some awareness of it. I was fascinated actually to find one physical connection between what all of you here did and the easier life I have led: George Wilson served in the fast and modern HMS ULSTER in 1944: she was still fast but she was not modern when I joined her as my first ship for navigation training in 1970.

I have no illusions about why it is that I have been able to have a life less threatened than yours: it is because of what your generation did in those dark years of '39 to '45. Of course, there has been conflict since then and probably you were involved: Korea, Malaysia, Suez, the Falklands, and Iraq, and now religious fanaticism; but it is nothing like '39 to '45 when the whole world suffered. That people like me have had a less troubled life is of your making. Memories fade and society moves on; babies born when man first walked on the moon will soon be grandparents; recently, at a school in Bexley in Kent, none of the pupils knew what the Battle of Britain was; and their teacher didn't know either. When one thinks that some, and I do mean some and only some - when one thinks of some young people in Eton Wick, one thinks more of vandalism than of a valuable contribution to society, and yet they have much more than you did when you were fourteen, when you went to work and then to war; but they can't take away the legacy of peace that you gained with your sacrifices, suffering and hardship.

I think this reunion is a wonderful achievement by those who thought of it and made it happen, and by you who are here. You have given me the privilege to stand here and take this opportunity, which I am very glad to take, to thank you on behalf of my generation and those following for what you and your generation have given us. I salute you and I thank you. I said a moment ago that they all came back to Eton Wick, but of course they did not all come back: Stanley Bond, Alfred Brown, Clifford Chew, William Farmer, Thomas Flint, William George, Richard Hood, Thomas McMurray, William Pardoe, Walter Pates, Alfred Prior, and George Prior did not come back, and some who did come back are not with us today. I will ask you to stand, once again, and drink to absent comrades.

A message from Commander Andrew Wynn which was read to the audience on  8th July 2015 after the film of the 'Recall 60 Years On' event:

I was very touched to be reminded about the 'Recall 60 Years On' that was arranged in 2005, and to be told that the speech that I had the honour of making on that special occasion is to get a second hearing at this evening's meeting of the History Group. It is sobering to think that ten years have passed since then. It was such a pleasure then to see so many Second World War veterans from Eton Wick, and in the 60th anniversary year of VJ Day to speak in their praise and to thank them. Now we are near the 70th anniversary, and Old Father Time has been at work as he always has and always will. So the veterans with you are fewer than in 2005. But our debt to them, and to the spirits of their comrades who have gone ahead of us, is every bit as great now as it was 10 years ago. I would like to congratulate the History Group on making sure that the memory of the hardships and sacrifices faced by so many in the Second World War still stay alive.

I salute the surviving veterans of Eton Wick. Those who have died, let us remember in the words of the imperishable Royal British Legion Exhortation: "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them."