Monday, 20 May 2019

War Memorial Committee Meeting - May 1919

Committee Meeting held May 20th 1919

The Treasurer reported collection to date as £55.00. 

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

On Their Own At Last.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

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

Dear Eton Wick Historians

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

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

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

By Robin Cave

Mr Cave is a nephew of Joan Ballhatchet.

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

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Frank Bond

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

Friday, 26 April 2019

World War 2 - April 1939

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Eton Wick Census 1911

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

Details collected include:

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

Relationship to Head of Household.

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

Particulars as to marriage.

Rank, Profession or Occupation.

Birthplace, county and country.

Whether Blind, Deaf or Dumb.

Place: street name, house number or house name.

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

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

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

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

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

Consolidated Census spreadsheet.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Eton Wick and Boveney were part of Eton Rural Sanitary Authority

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

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

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

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

Public Health Act 1875 

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Woolhouse Family of Eton Wick

The Woolhouse surname was recorded in the 1841 Census and every national survey up unto the 1939 Register. There is evidence that the family had been living in Eton Wick or the Parish of Eton at the start of the 18th century. Woolhouse is the surname with the longest continuous name in the available records.

From 1841 census through to the 1939 Register there appear to have been 35 people with the Woolhouse surname. From William who was born around 1780 and was living at No.2 Prospect Place in 1851 with his wife Sarah to Edward, born in 1916 and was living in 6 Palmers Place in 1939 there is a connected story. Across the 98 years of these records they lived in 15 houses, the family were tenants of No.2 Prospect Place for more than 40 years.

From working on the land to running a business making and repairing bicycle; sawyer to builders foreman the family's employment is a reflection of the changing opportunities for work that the residents of the village had on offer during this period.

The Woolhouse Family of Eton Wick from 1841 to 1939

WW1 artifacts belonging to William Woolhouse are held in the Windsor Museum collection. The 1939 Register records that he was married to Eunice and the live at No.5 South View. This is one of the 'Homes for Heroes' built just west of the Windsor to Slough railway branch line. After being a Prisoner of War he became a tenant of the new house in 1925.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

The way things were — in sickness and in health

The treatment of illness before the National Health Service in 1948 was unbelievably different from what we have today. My earliest memories are of the 1920s — 1930s; which were themselves much improved from earlier years. Doctors were not normally afforded and the district nurse was a much-respected member of the village community. It was 1883 when the Eton Poor's Estate first paid for a nurse to attend the sick. The Eton Wick population was growing and would have been between 500 and 700. Later a resident nurse was appointed, and she lived in a wooden and thatched bungalow in Wheatbutts orchard. 

The complaints of scarlet fever, measles, diphtheria, and tuberculosis are fortunately no longer the dread illnesses of yesteryear. I was about 6 or 7 years old when scarlet fever swept through my family, necessitating a six-week spell in the Cippenham Isolation Hospital. The homesick room was sealed and fumigated, and books or soft toys used by the patients were destroyed. While in hospital, visitors could only stand outside the closed window and wave. After the six weeks of isolation we returned home and duly gave the fever to another in the family. My youngest brother, who was barely two years old, was in hospital while I was there. Mother was so worried and asked me to look after Fred. How on earth can a 6-year-old look after a 2-year-old in what I regarded as an alien world. We were ministered regular doses of filthy greenish-grey liquorice water from a dirty chipped enamel cup, presumably to keep us all 'regular'. Even now after 80 plus years, I find myself twisting my nose and mouth at the thought of it. 

By the time my family had each had scarlet fever my Mother had endured a long summer of weary treks across the 'slipes' (now we call it all Wood Lane) to the Cippenham Isolation Hospital. After WW2 it became a nurses' hostel. Ironically there was an Isolation Cottage Hospital in Eton Wick at this time, but alas, I understand, not for the use of Eton Wick residents. It had been built by the Eton Council in 1883 on the southeast corner of Bell Farm - which the council had purchased in 1875, primarily to enable sewage to be pumped from the town and College, and spread on 'sewer beds' to be located at Bell Farm. Of the remainder of the farm, seven acres were privately sold, a plot at a time, for homes on an area later known as Boveney Newtown, and the remainder was kept as a Council farm. 

Eton Wick had no main drainage until the mid-20th century, about 60 years later, so could not have benefitted from the sewage farm, and was denied the hospital also. In the early 1800s raw sewage was often disposed of in open ditches and subsequently found its way into the river. In Eton there was just such a ditch along Baldwin Shore (by Baldwin Bridge) surely an unappealing sight and stench in the college area of Eton, albeit up to the 1840s, when it was covered over. The need to use Bell Farm was undoubtedly justified. 

In 1893 an epidemic of measles caused the Eton Wick School to close for a week but undoubtedly the really dreaded complaint before the NHS came into being was TB (Tuberculosis). Improved drugs and treatment in the post-war years brought hope and comfort for the sufferers. Even naming the illness was often avoided and it became known as 'consumption'. During my own school years of the early 1930s several of my childhood contemporaries died of TB and one particularly poignant memory is of a sad family walking from Alma Road to the village churchyard with a child's coffin held between them. The day of the limousine had not yet arrived, although generally the village builder, Alf Miles, who was also the undertaker, provided a bier. Perhaps even the comparatively minimal cost of a bier was prohibitive. Times were hard but nobody glibly talked of poverty as is bandied around today. 

In 1913 we had yet another amenity that to my knowledge never did be of any service to the
village. This was a mortuary that was mostly used for drownings at a time when the river was popularly used for bathing, swimming and sometimes for a 'soap and soak' wash down after a hot day's work. The river was fairly safe for local people who knew it well, and not so safe for the many day trippers who came to Windsor by rail and finished up on the Brocas at Eton. Many will remember the old mortuary which stood in a very dilapidated state for many years after WW2 — long after its infrequent use of the 1920s — 1940s. The Jubilee Oak planted in 2012 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II 60 year on the throne is approximately 20 metres southwest of the Mortuary and about 120 metres southwest of the Isolation Hospital. Before the mortuary was built in 1913 corpses were often kept in the cellars of local public houses. Perhaps a 'cool keep' but it must have been a deterrent to drinkers wanting a cool pint from the cellar after a hard day's toil. 

Family medicine cupboards would probably have included Syrup of Figs, Zam-Buk for chilblains, Sloans or Ellimans ointment, eucalyptus for colds, Wintergreen ointment, Iodine, Germolene, cinnamon for fevers and of course bandages and plasters. My family chest also had linseed oil that was mixed with oats when the workhorse had a cold and cough. Dad's greengrocery round required a fit horse at all times; consequently, after cold, wet days the horse was top priority for a dry and vigorous rub down; only after the horse was comfortably stabled would Dad think of changing his own wet clothes. All traders gave their horse this love and care. When trucks displaced the animals the loving concern ended, also bringing, perhaps, a different attitude to work. 

In the pre-WW2 years, and before NHS, visits to doctors and dentists were avoided as much as possible, despite the facts of chilblains and toothache causing regular trouble. As a village cub around 1932, I well remember a visit to the pack from a Gibbs Dentifrice representative. After distributing hands-full of peanuts to us we were told to chew them for at least 24 times before swallowing. I think perhaps he was the original 'nut case'. Few of us knew about hygiene, and regular cleaning of teeth - it seems incredible now, with so much attention to such matters. We were told we could purchase Gibbs Dentifrice for tuppence (less than 1p). It came in an all tin about the size of a shoe polish tin, and it was pink and hard. nothing like today's range of tubed pastes. A small jigsaw puzzle also came as a 'freebee' with the Dentifrice. Yes! all for less than one new pence. 

An extraction in the 1930s cost around 3 shillings and 6 pence (17% new pence) and when prescription charges for medicines were first introduced in 1952 it was one shilling (5p), only to be abolished in 1965 and re-introduced three years later. 

One middle-aged lady very dear to me had all her teeth extracted in one visit to Windsor and then walked home to Eton Wick. Again this was the early 1930s. 

Hospital patients, of course, were fed, but certainly no menu to choose from, and weekend visitors often took jam or dripping to add a little extra to the afternoon tea. Perhaps I should have titled this article 'Lest we forget'. 

By Frank Bond 

Click here to read Our Village August 2012.

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

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

War Memorial Meetings - March 1919.

There were two meeting about the proposed War Memorial held in March 1919 and these are the abbreviated minutes.

A Public Meeting was held in the Institute on Wednesday, 5th 1919 at 7.30 p.m.

Those present being the committee, W. Lowman, G. Buckland, J. Pert, W. Hammerton, A. Nottage, E. Woolhouse, J. Stroude, Mrs. Ashman, Mrs. McAnally, Mrs. Nottage, and many others.

The Chairman reported that the Vicar could not give a definite answer regarding the suggested site for the Memorial. The Church Council of Vestry had to be consulted. A faculty fee of £4.14s.6d would be payable to the Chancellor of the Diocese. The meeting expressed indignation that a charge be made and the Chairman was asked to write to the Chancellor asking for the fee to be remitted. The Chairman also pointed out the fact that whichever design the meeting chose it would be subject to approval by the Diocese Committee appointed by the Bishop. Proposed Mr Pert, seconded Mr Moss that one of the two suggested designs be selected. Carried.

Moved by Rev. McAnally that a collection be started and other designs be obtained. Carried. Proposed Mr Ayres, seconded Mr Nason that Mr Nutt's design be accepted. 25 For. Proposed Miss Ashby and seconded Mr Burfoot (Junior) Mr Blair's design be adopted. 15 For. The Chairman declared Mr Ayres proposition carried. Agreed subscriptions be collected by Mrs Percy, Mrs Miles, Mrs Howell, Mrs Stroude, Miss Nottage and Miss Ashby. Mr Vaughan donated £10.00 and a further £2.10s.0d. from another person, through him.

Committee Meeting held March 10th 1919

Decided to start collecting at once and open an account in an Eton bank. Agreed to display a drawing of the proposed design in the Church Porch. Mr Moss offered to frame the drawing. Burfoot to send a design tracing to the Chancellor of the Diocese. 

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

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The Story of Oliver James Stannett in his own word - A Job on the Railway and Getting Married

After being at home for several weeks I was seventeen and a half years old. The Railway did not take boys over sixteen but when they read the reference that Mr. Stillwell had given me I was told to start work on Monday morning at eighteen shillings a week.

The shifts were 8 am. to 4 pm. , 6 pm. to 3 am. and 11 pm. to 8 am. There were twenty four of us, working in six gangs of four. I enjoyed the night work because we had time and a quarter from 10 pm. to 6 am. On Saturday nights we were paid time and a half from midnight to 8 am. which gave us an extra 8 shillings a week. The trouble was that we had to do this in turns, the gangs being rostered for six weeks. I had a little extra for myself.

When I was in the stables Mum gave me sixpence pocket money every week. Most of us went to the 'pictures' every Saturday night which was tuppence (2d.). When we came out we had 'one and one' on a plate at the fish and chip shop in Peascod Street in Windsor. A large piece of fish and the plate piled up with chips. None were ever left and we did enjoy them!

We had no money to take girls out. I still did not have a shirt on my back and I was very shy where girls were concerned. There were several in the village who had tried very hard to get me to take them out but how could I with no shirt to wear. I still wore the suit that Bert Horton had given me.

I had to walk across the fields to Slough for three years night and morning because I did not have a bike. I liked autumn the best because I went through the fields of turnips and swedes. I had no supper at home so I had a feed of turnips, swedes and wheat which lasted me until 3 am. when we stopped for an hour to eat.

Should a coalman, tube cleaner, boiler washer or lighter up not turn up then one of us had to go on the job for which we received an extra shilling a week for doing labourers' work. Their rate of pay was eight shillings a day so I was able to save a few shillings.

One day I happened to walk indoors and saw Mabel Brewer who was our neighbour. I never forgot the picture she made sitting in front of the fire in a long pink dress. So we got talking and Mum suggested that I take Mabel to see The Beggar's Opera which was on at a Windsor theatre and we both agreed. I liked Mabel very much, she was a proper tomboy and was the only girl who would play with us when we were younger.

When she left school she was put into service where most of the girls went at that time. She was working at St. Winifred's Girls School in Eastbourne as Head Chambermaid. We wrote to each other and I longed for the school holidays so that we could become engaged.

Then after two years Mabel got a job at a hotel in Staines as Parlour Maid. After eighteen months we were married in 1925. We found two rooms in Church Street, Slough at 22/6d. a week. My income at that time was £2-0-6 a week after stoppages, so we had 8/- to live on.

There was a retired Jew across the road who used to put boxes of fruit and veg. outside. On this occasion, he had put a box of tomatoes at three ha'pence a pound and we could not find the three ha'pence to get any. We had a grill to do the cooking on. Mabel was carrying Ron at the time. We used to get a nice sized piece of meat for the weekend and Mabel usually made soup with the bone. I came home from work at 2 pm. and Mabel asked me if I wanted some soup. I said, "Yes please!" and I had two plates full. Mabel did not have any because of the babe. I asked, "What did you put in it, some rice?" "No“ She said, "Oh! It must have been the bone that was flyblown!" But it must have given it a flavour because I had two plates of it and it hasn't hurt me.

Then came the 1926 General Strike. I was out of work for ten days so the committee decided to give us ten shillings a week as they were now in funds. I went to the Working Men's Club where all the strike meetings were held. I had decided to go along and see how things were shaping. On the way home through Slough High Street I saw a loaf on the path and people were walking round it so I picked it up. It must have dropped from somebody's basket. A little further along I saw a shilling, I could not believe my eyes. Mabel was very pleased with it. Everything seemed to improve after that and I was very glad to get back to work.

This is an extract from the autobiography written by Oliver James Stannett (1903 - 1988) and republished here with the kind permission of his relatives who still live in Eton Wick. The collection of Oliver Stannett's articles can be found by clicking on this link.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Enclosure of the Parishes near Eton Wick

Enclosure Map for Upton cum Chalvey
courtesy of the Berkshire Records Office
The Eton Wick we know today surrounded by green fields is the result of the protests made by the residents of the village and Eton that stopped their enclosure in the late 18th century. The Berkshire Records Office website, has images of the maps of the areas that were subject to Enclosure Acts and plenty of information about the change that happened. 

Enclosure map for New Windsor and Dedworth
courtesy of the Berkshire Records Office
The Berkshire Records Office website has the Enclosure records for Upton-cum-Chalvey of 1809. This document includes a mention of John Penn who was unsuccessful in his quest to enclose the Parish of Eton 17 years later.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Village Community in the 1800's

In 1872 the Eton Work Society was also founded under the auspices of the church. It was a bark-back to ideas of earlier centuries whereby materials were bought by the parish and given to the poorer people to work. In Eton, it was to the women that the scheme was aimed. They did needlework during the winter months; they were paid for their labour and the garments were sold at cost price. It was an admirable scheme for the times and reflects the attitude of the clergy and parish workers of 'helping the poor without pauperising them'. Many of the parish poor lived in the 'poor out-district of Eton Wick'.

Earlier in the century, however, ordinary villagers, if not the poorest, had managed their own affairs quite successfully. The Eton Wick Friendly Society had been founded in 1811. It met on the first Monday of each month at the Three Horseshoes. Only those who could maintain themselves and their families could join; the entrance fee was five shillings, and there was a monthly payment of 1s 9d.  Meetings were meant to be an enjoyable occasion and there was an annual feast, but the rules of behaviour were strict. The most important function was as an insurance society. In times of sickness or infirmity a member would receive 10s 6d weekly for six months and then half of this for as long as the sickness lasted. Widows too were helped. Members took it in turns to be stewards and visit ailing members. For at least twelve years the Society prospered, but no records later than 1823 have survived and in all probability it became bankrupt in the lean years which followed.

In 1878 a group of villagers began another enterprise - the Eton Wick Horticultural and 
The Eton Wick Horticultural Show circa 1900
Industrial Exhibition, or Horticultural Society as it was later known. Its first meeting was held in  August that year.  Prizes were given for the usual classes of produce and crafts: fruit, vegetables, flowers, needlework and livestock. There was no doubt about its success, and by the following year it had become a parish affair open to all competitors from the town as well as the village and also Boveney and Dorney. Competitions were now arranged according to the class of the competitor- cottager, allotment holder,   professional and amateur. Special prizes were given by the Temperance Society. It was the highlight of the village year, an event to be looked forward to months ahead and talked about for weeks afterwards. There was no shortage of entries. Rabbits sleek in their cages, and bantams, hens and ducks in their coops formed a double line in one corner of Wheatbutts Field. The smell of hot, freshly cooked potatoes and new bread filled the air, complemented in later years by the sound of Eton Wick's own fife and drum band. Among the prize winners were one or two now very familiar names, such as Bond and Borrett, which make their first entry in the records of the village.

Two other events which caused considerable excitement in 1878 were also reported in the parish magazine, and although the information given is meager, each appears to be the first of its kind in the village. Both took place in July on the common; the first was a political meeting and the second a steam circus. As the century drew to its end several other innovations were taking place in the village. A cricket club was started in 1889 and a football club some time previously. The football team won all its matches in 1885. The old schoolroom became the meeting place of the Eton Wick Working Men's Club, and there was also a Young Men's Club. Treats and concerts were becoming quite usual features of village life. Vans and wagons took the children to Langley Park and another year the Sunday School treat took place on Fellows' Eyot. The Temperance Society visited Cliveden; village parties were held to see in the New Year, and public teas were held in the schoolroom in the summer, followed by entertainment in Mr Nottage's orchard. Christmas 1885 was marked by a magic lantern show at the school. There were many concerts, but one of them merits special mention, for it appears to be one of the earliest known occasions when the village organized a collection to help one of its members. The proceeds were given to the widow of young Arthur Benham who died after catching a chill in the floods, leaving a wife and seven children.

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

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Memorial Committee Meetings - February 1919.

There were two Memorial Committee meeting held February 1919 and these are the abbreviated minutes.

The committee met at the Institute on February 5th.

Proposed and agreed Rev. McAnally be Chairman, Mr E. Ashman be secretary and Mr Howell be treasurer. Resolved Mr Percy be co-opted. Proposed Mr Moss that a stone monument 10 or 12 feet high, surmounted with a cross, be erected in the Churchyard between the porch and vestry, with the names of the fallen suitably inscribed on the base, seconded Mr Howell and carried unanimously. 

Mr Percy agreed to obtain specifications from Mr Nutt. Mr Vaughan and Mr Burfoot promised to get particulars in time for the next meeting to be held on Monday, February 24th.

Committee Meeting held 7 p.m. 24th February 1919

All present. Mr Vaughan produced a model of a proposed monument from J. H. Morecambe of Leicester. Approximate cost £90.00, also a model from W. Blair of Eton, approximate cost in Portland stone £120.00, or in Bath stone, with slabs £90.00. Mr Percy produced several designs of memorials from Mr Nutt. Rev. McAnally stated there would be a exhibition of various memorials in London, at some later date. Mr Bunce thought the committee should proceed with the matter at once. Seconded Mr Percy and agreed. Proposed Mr Burfoot, seconded Mr Bunce that the two designs be selected and submitted to a General Meeting on March 5th.

Proposed Mr Ashman, seconded Mr Burfoot that designed number one of Mr Nutt’s surmounted with cross design number three be chosen. Mr Percy to obtain an estimate of the same. Proposed Mr Bunce and seconded Mr Barrett that Mr Blair’s model be submitted.

Mr Vaughan agreed to see Mr Blair regarding the slenderness of the top portion and to obtain an estimate in Hopwood stone. 

Mr Moss expressed a view that a definite location for the monument be submitted to the General Meeting, and he thought the parishioners were expecting it to be placed on “the spare piece of ground between the Church Porch and the vestry”. Rev. McAnally agreed to approach the Vicar regarding permission.

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

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Our Village April 2012 - Village Clubs and Groups

The Way Things Were

During a recent tidy-up of files and folders on Eton Wick I came upon a listing of organisations; groups and clubs dating back to the early 1800's. Part of this list was the work of the old Eton Urban Council — pre 1974, and part of it we produced in the 'Pictorial History of Eton Wick' book published in the year 2000. There are now quite sixty groups etc; on the list, and I do not pretend the list to be complete. Many may pose the question of how they originated and what caused their demise. Others may need to reinvent their title to be acceptable in today's world. This of course includes a 'Minstrel' and a 'Black and White' Minstrel group which were Eton Wick concert parties before and after the Great War of 1914 -18. Perhaps there was a social need for concert groups after the family disruptions of wars, because after the Second World War 1939 — 45, the village again had concert groups such as "The Unity Players" and "The Shoestrings". The need to raise funds also prompted some of these groups, as it did with the annual Scout fetes and gymkhanas; the Village Hall fetes, and 'The Wicko Carnivals'.

Looking at sports groups, the first mention I have of a local club is the Eton Excelsior Rowing Club dating back to at least 1826. Sports in the village did not really feature before the 1880s - around 1882 the first mention of a village football club and 1889 when the cricket club originated. Both clubs played their home fixtures on the common, there being no recreation ground until 1904. Undoubtedly there would have been some local opposition to the common being used on the grounds of Lammas misuse.

Both the Eton Wick and the Eton Recreation Grounds were purchased with accumulated funds accrued principally with the Great Western Railway compensation for the loss of Lammas rights when the viaduct was built around 1846. Eton Wick's ground, opening in 1904. Not until the village had a recreation area could it really be feasible to have regular organised sports, although it is doubtful if the small population could have fielded team sports much sooner.

The first organised group mentioned is dated 1811. Not sport and not recreation but a 'Friendly Society' at the Three Horse Shoes, which lasted for at least 12 years. This was believed to be the first of various support motivated groups, although with the low wages of that time, probably not affordable to all. It cost five shillings (25p) to enroll and a monthly payment of one shilling and nine pence (9p). In return there was a weekly payout of ten shillings and sixpence (52p) in times of sickness, for up to six months, reducing thereafter. The other pubs later introduced similar schemes which in one form or another existed until the mid-20' century; after which time the state ensured social security, and the said 'Slate Clubs' or 'Didtem Clubs' as they were known, went into decline. Other groups of a 'support' nature included 'The Temperance Guild' c. 1884; 'The Mother's Union' (1902) and the Infant Welfare 1915. Sped groups were Football c.1882; Cricket 1889; Rifle Club 1899; Harriers 1907; Tennis Club 1930; Badminton P.T.A. c.1960; Indoor Bowls 1991 and The Nomads 1949.

The Nomads were a cycle camper group of youths within the Youth Club, and the name was that used for registered membership within the Camping Club of Great Britain. They existed for about four years and cycle camped to the coast; the Isle of Wight; and twice toured the Cornish Coast — the West Coast, Land's End, Lizard, Plymouth and the coast home. In 1952 they toured an area in North France. Youth Club ages were appreciably different at that time, with all members being aged 15 — 21. Before we look at more village youth groups it is appropriate in this Olympic year to mention the Harriers Club of 1907. The following year of 1908 the Olympics came to Britain, and a villager competed in the marathon race. The 26 mile course was Windsor to London and the runner was Edwin Stacey, the second youngest son of the 'Shepherd's Hut' landlord. Incidentally our bird man, Bill Stacey, is a relative.

Of the Rifle Club it is claimed they had some very good competitors and in fact qualified to
compete at Wisley. Unfortunately they were not a good match for the other teams who were using Vernia sights on their rifles, which the 'Wicks' team had no experience of. Both the Harriers and Rifle Club had the support of the village benefactor, Edward Littleton Vaughan, who gave his time and generosity to Eton Wick and in particular to its youth. He promoted a young men's club in the redundant old school building and when in 1903 the site and building were purchased for a shop he made Wheatbutts Cottage and orchard available to the Harriers and Rifle clubs, meanwhile giving the site and building for the Village Hall (then The Institute) that we still take pride in today. It is believed Mr Vaughan was Eton Wick and Boveney's first Scout Master. He certainly had the village group at summer camp near Weymouth at the outbreak of the Great War of 1914 — 18. In 1935 at the age of 86 he started a boys club in the village. His club leaders were a local guards' sergeant and Mr Les Moreby. Unfortunately the club closed after two years when Les left the 'Wick' to take up an appointment as Boys' Leader in the newly opened and nationally prestigious Slough Community Centre.

In 1939 came the war. Our village hall was taken over for evacuees and classrooms; the recreation ground was ploughed and used for cereal growing; there were complete blackouts and many men went into the war. Others not enlisted for health or essential war work reasons all had to take on other duties such as Home Guard; Fire Service Wardens; Air Wardens; or Messengers.

Consequently, many clubs and organisations fell into decline; some never to recover. One such being the Tilston Tennis Club. Their courts were behind the village hall on the exact site of todays' large youth club games hall. After the war the youth club attempted to repair or replace the rusted and dilapidated court fencing; all to no avail. There had been allotments between the courts and the Boveney Ditch (south side of the Rec') and these were vacated in the 1950s. I presume the vacation was influenced by the building of Princes Close on the Brewers' Field c.1953-4.

Youth groupings very much included Boy Scouts; Cubs; Guides and Brownies - the uniformed groups. These were quick to establish after the war and of course much aided by having their own hutted quarters in the N.W. comer of Wheatbutts orchard (now Wheatbutts estate). Sadly arson destroyed most of the Scouting records/photos etc., in later years.

Socialist Britain in the post WW2 years established Advisory Committees to oversee youth services. Locally the committee found little to do in the Eton Wick scouting set up, so concentrated on the youth club, as a mixed sex organisation. In the first five years the club had full time paid leaders that could be barely justified in a time of post war austerity. By 1951 this had changed, and I was appointed the unprofessional club leader, receiving nine shillings (45p) an evening as recompense.

There have been other youth groups in the village run by the Church of St. John the Baptist and the Methodists. Later the Catholic Church formed a group of 'Charlie's Angels' but as is the modern trend, for a younger age range. In my youth the Sunday Schools were a big issue in the village, but I think perhaps the main reasons were twofold. Firstly, families were large and it was convenient to know where the children were on Sundays, and secondly the 'Sunday School annual outings'. There were no family cars, so without an outing we rarely left the immediate neighbourhood. Before charabancs and coaches the annual outing was to Burnham Beeches and transport was by coal cart. The horse drawn coal carts were used because they had low platforms, suitable for the coal merchants easy lifting on his back.

The Methodist Chapel were the first to use motor coaches to the seaside. This was around 1932-3. Oh! how we envied them, as most of us had never seen the sea. Within two years St. John's had matched the chapels' coast trips, so we were then able to argue the merits of which was best.

Text Box: Page 2Many villagers of eighty plus years ago would never have gone far beyond where their legs would take them, and undoubtedly the initial attraction of young men volunteering for war in 1914 had more to do with the thought of seeing France and Belgium than the mortal conflict. Social groupings in Eton Wick included The Working Mens' Club, 1890's; The Sisterhood early 1900's; The Womens' Recreation Club c.1925; The Over 60s Club c.1950; Young Wives Group c.1940's; The Mens' Club c.1930's and The Ladies Club c.1960.

There are two entries under music. The Fife & Drum Band c.1890 and The Crusader Skiffle Group c. late 1950's. There are several others, some still exist today. Perhaps the latest is The knit and natter' group held at the library. Not all the groups have had a mention as I have to keep an eye on the magazine space I can reasonably use. Perhaps as a last thought I should say that football had just one mention but there have been at least five different football clubs and probably more. 

By Frank Bond

Click here to read Our Village April 2012.

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