Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village April 2008

The Eton Wick Village Hall committee published a newsletter for a short time in the 1950's. In 2008 the Committee revived the idea and have been publishing a magazine three times a year since April that year delivering it free of charge to every house in the village. The Eton Wick History Group are delighted to have their kind permission to share these insights into village life on this website. We will be showing the front cover and the regular Village history feature articles many of which were written by Frank Bond on the front page. There will be a link to images of each complete Our Village that we republish at the end of each post.

Eton Wick and Boveney

We are very fortunate in Eton Wick to have open country all around and the river so close by. This should not be taken for granted. A village, albeit very much smaller, has stood here for hundreds of years and very probably people were living here, close to the river, before the village had its Anglo Saxon name.

Although the village boundary reached east to beyond the rail viaduct until the 1920's and the west boundary to Bell Lane until 1934, most of the homes before the 19th Century were concentrated along Common Road between the Wheatbutts and Sheepcote. At the beginning of that century there were approximately 100 villagers and by 1860 about 300 (probably one tenth of today's population). Of course this included the six or seven farms which were a little north of the residential Common Road and marginally on higher, less likely to flood, ground. 200 years ago Sheepcote was not an inhabited road, but a muddy farm track alongside the Sheepcote fields which belonged to the crown. The Walk was non existent.

The early dwellings mostly had very long gardens which stretched from Common Road to the main road; and the few 18th and 19th century homes along the main road had extended gardens to Common Road. The Three Horse Shoes' pub's garden was likewise, as was the tiny ten terraced cottages east of that pub. Unable to build on the lammas, common or crown lands, and west of Bell Lane being in the different parish of Burnham, the long gardens were sold off as building plots. The green spaces of today were yesteryears jealously guarded grazing rights. These rights never did extend beyond Bell Land and of course still do not.

With old Eton Wick filling up it looked like a stalemate until in 1870 the Eton Council purchased Bell Farm, to be used as the town's sewage farm. The farm was bigger than needed and in 1875 they sold 75 acres of mainly pasture that was west of Bell Lane.

Although Bell Farm was just inside the Eton Wick boundary, much of its actual farm land was the other side of Bell Lane and consequently came under Burnham. In fact the farm had already built farm cottages for its employees along Bell Lane and on adjacent land.

Soon after the initial sale of the 75 acres it passed into the hands of local man, Mr Ayres. Roads were laid out in Alma, Inkerman and Northfield and he sold plots of the land parcel by parcel. At last room to expand, but being in the parish of Burnham — not Eton Wick. Being close to old Boveney it was called Boveney Newtown. It had its own council, a chapel and two shops. This was during the last two decades of the 19th century. Although not part of the scheme it triggered off building along the main road and establishing Victoria Road, a cul-de-sac with its long terraced row.

Village organisations predating the 1934 unifications under Eton Urban are generally known as Eton Wick and Boveney i.e. Women's Institute, Scout Movement, War Memorial etc. Development west of Moores Lane all came after World War 2 — another story.

The crown lands are now Eton College owned and will surely be protected in their own interests. I like to believe their interests are mostly the same as ours, preservation of Lammas and common lands as far as it is reasonably possible. Without small holdings, livestock on the farms, the need to glean and graze, a general apathy believes all will take care of itself and we will keep the centuries-long pastures. Perhaps it is later than we think.

Submitted by Frank Bond

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Joining of Boveney and Eton

The Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, Boveney
In 1892 a temporary arrangement was made with the Vicar of Burnham by which the Vicar of Eton undertook the spiritual care of the growing population in New Boveney.

In December 1906, a new temporary agreement, for two years only, was being negotiated between Eton and Boveney. 

It involved two changes if it came off, viz: that Eton should take over the services' at Boveney Church and that Burnham should pay Eton £50 a year instead of £20. 

It was hoped that there would be an announcement the following month that this had been agreed to, as both parishes and their officers were in favour of it and it would be a big step towards the only satisfactory settlement of this question, viz:  the union of Boveney with Eton for parochial purposes. 

The above question considered by Church Council which met at the Parish Room on Thursday, November 15th, 1906 at 6 p.m., sixteen members being present. The following resolutions were carried unanimously:

“That the agreement receives the approval of the Council” and also “That a vote of thanks be given to the committee for all the work they have done in the matter.”

The Committee of the Council had been appointed on March 24th, 1904 and consisted of the Rev. J Shephard, Mr Williams, Mr Drake, Mr Haygate, Dr G E Hale and Mr Tarrant, whilst Mr Broker and Mr W S Evans were added on May 16th, 1904.


Text of the agreement between the Vicars of Burnham and Eton:- 
(1) This agreement shall be for two years from January 1st, 1907 to December 31st, 1908 and shall then cease.
(2) That for the mentioned period the Vicar of Eton shall undertake the charge of Boveney (Old and New) and the services at Boveney Church, but not the upkeep of the fabric of Boveney Church.
(3) The Vicar of Burnham shall pay to the Vicar of Eton a sum of £50 per annum during these two years.
(4) The permanent attachment of the Parish of Boveney to the living of Eton, an income of not less than £60 per annum must be secured to the Vicar of Eton by the Vicar of Burnham, in which case it is understood that an annual grant of £40 will be secured to the Vicar of Eton by Eton College.

We are happy to be able to add that the College has most generously promised to add £30 each year to Burnham’s £50, so that we start this year with a better prospect of making both ends meet in the Assistant Clergy Fund than we did last.

June 1907

As we all know by this time we are now responsible for the services at Boveney Chapel though it is not yet at any rate united with the Parish of Eton. So far Evensong has been said at 3 o’clock except of the fourth Sunday of each month when Holy Communion is celebrated at 9.45 am. In June we intend to try the experiment of putting Evensong at 4 pm as the position of the Chapel on the river bank seems to suggest the advisability of offering an opportunity to many strollers to attending service in the course of their walk.

The Chapel of St Mary Magdalene is most interesting from an architectural point of view and historical one, and it is a quaint and delightful little church to worship in. In 1377 there were 28 inhabited houses in the Liberty of Boveney, 33 families and nearly 165 inhabitants, but the Chapel must have been built at least 150 years before this and seems from the earliest days to have been connected with Burnham.

In 1737 an Act of Parliament was passed for converting Boveney into a district Parish but proceedings seem to have stopped there for the want of funds. In later years the regular services were undertaken by two Eton masters, Mr CT Abraham, afterwards Bishop of Wellington, New Zealand and Mr WA Carter, afterwards bursar of Eton College. In this work they were succeeded by FG Otley so there has been plenty of connection with Eton in the past, apart from which came through the connection with Burnham and the College.

There is a tradition that the Chapel was in some way intended for the Thames Bargemen, and as the authority to which we are indebted for the above points out, if that is true it proves that the ancient Bargemen must have been greater churchgoers than of the present day.

As a matter of fact, Boveney was a village of quite ordinary proportions in the past and the existence of the Church needs no special explanation.

There are now about 700 inhabitants but nearly all are living in the part adjoining Eton Wick and the remains of the old village are still untouched, and if the 28 houses referred to have gone, at any rate, there are some of very considerable antiquity.

August 1909

We very much regret to hear that there has been a serious hitch in Burnham’s scheme for raising the money for the Boveney arrangement. It is hoped that things may yet get smoothly though. We hope that the Charity Commissioners may be induced to change their minds, and make possible an arrangement so clearly in the interests of both Boveney and Eton Wick.

March 1910

There is, I think I may say, now no doubt that the proposed union of Boveney with Eton will take place. The legal formalities will be sure to take time, but the end is in sight. When it is done all the inhabitants of Boveney will have full ecclesiastical rights in Eton Wick Church and Churchyard. The union will, of course, not affect anything but these purely ecclesiastical things, the ancient charities will remain quite unaffected as they were left to the inhabitants of Eton Parish as it was, not as it might come to be, and the same applies of course to Boveney Charities (if any).

July 1911

I am very glad to be able to announce that at last Boveney has been formally and legally separated from Burnham and joined Eton. From July 1st, it will be part of Eton Parish so far as things ecclesiastical are concerned, an all inhabitants of Boveney will have full parishioners’ rights in Eton.

These extracts are taken from Eton Parish Magazines of the period
This script was originally written by T. R. C. Scarsbrook.

The Boveney Family

We learn from the records of Merton Priory that the Prior had become possessed of a messuage in Burgagio (l) de Eton with an acre of land called Sudmed (South Meadow) and a croft called Chelvescroft (Chalvey) near the ville of Eton. This is mentioned a lease (2) of this land in 1198, to Robert, son Hugo de Boveney. 
(1) If a settlement was defined by a mound and a ditch instead a tun or a quick hedge. 
(2) Heal's Merton, p. 54. 

The old of Boveney Liberty must come from this. Liberty, Lloyd's Dictionary - a place or district within which certain privileges or franchises are employed. 
“The Bells of all the parishes of the City and liberties were rung.” 
MacauIay, History of England, Chapter viii.