Saturday 17 December 2016

Eton Wick in the 19th Century: The Village Grows

One of the most important features of the nineteenth century was the tremendous rise in the population and the growth of the towns and villages; Eton Wick was no exception.  It was by no means a constant or steady increase, nor was this to be expected but, crowding apart, it was the decades when the village saw an increase in the number of houses that also saw a rise in the village population. However, there was very little building land available; the jealously guarded Lammas rights saw to that. The alternatives were to divide the land already used for housing by either squeezing houses in between the older ones, or by shortening the gardens and building on them, or to dig up the orchard and meadow still within the village area. Of course, the reasons why any one of these things happened depended on the wishes, interests and, perhaps, the business sense of the individual owners of the land as well as the pressing need for houses.

The years after the Napoleonic wars were lean years, slump years when over the country as a whole there was a dearth in the building of cottages. Many were allowed to fall into ruin and people who had to make the best of such homes suffered.  Yet in Eton Wick at least seventeen houses had been built before the end of the 1820s. By 1841 when the first house-to-house census was taken, there were sixty-two houses, three times the number at the beginning of the century. Several were built by the owner-farmer of Bell Farm, John Atkins, such as Bell Farm Cottages, Prospect Place which used to stand between the Three Horseshoes and the Grapes, and the oldest of the Clifton Cottages opposite the Greyhound.  Others were built by Eton townsfolk who owned land in the village - Hardings Cottages which were demolished to make way for Clifton Lodge old people's flats and the Parsonage.

Most of these were rented working class cottages - the earliest were built of red bricks with peg-tile roofs, but as the century progressed yellow bricks and purple slates became ubiquitous. They were very plain houses with either one room up and one down, or more usually two; each house had a garden, though it was smaller than those of earlier centuries.  This is the housing that has mostly been demolished since the war - perhaps rightly so, for by today's standards it had many defects. Yet in its time it was very good accommodation, comparing princely with the back-to-back houses and cellar homes of so many industrial towns, or the one-room hovels of many country villages.  Several of the houses had wells and others pumps, though no doubt the brook was still used for water. Cottages were expected to share facilities as is clearly shown in a deed of 1833 which specifies the rights of the occupiers of the ten cottages making up Prospect Place to use the one well, one pump and one privy.'  

Two houses did not fit into this general pattern. One was the large six bedroomed house, built 1826 as a gentleman's residence, 'convenient to Windsor and Eton and with a very pleasant view of the Castle'. Today this is the Parsonage; but if it was built as a speculative venture, which seems possible from the advertisement in the contemporary 'Windsor and Eton Express', it does not seem to have been successful, for within a decade the house had been divided to form three dwellings. The other was Thatch Cottage, built in 1833 by Isaac Deverell for his own use. It had quite a large garden and a shed probably used as a cow stall for he was a cowkeeper.

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

The Eton Wick census record for 1841 can be found in this article 

Saturday 3 December 2016

Eton Wick Census 1841

The United Kingdom Census of 1841 was taken on the of 7th June 1841 and was the first of the UK censuses to include details of household members. The total population of England, Wales and Scotland was recorded as 18,844,434 persons.

Details collected include: 

Place: street name, house number or house name.

Houses: inhabited, uninhabited or a building.

Names of each person who were resident in the house on the night preceding the census. For individuals where the given names was unknown N.K. was recorded.

Age and sex of each person: Ages up to 15 are listed exactly as reported/recorded but ages over 15 were rounded to the nearest 5 years (i.e. a person aged 53 would be listed on the census as age 50 years).

Occupation: Profession, trade or employment.

Birthplace, but only if the person was born in the county where the census was taken usually recorded as a yes or no. If they were not born in the county there would be an entry such as S for Scotland or even an F for "born in foreign parts".

The end of each building is shown with two slashes // and the end of each household in a building is shown with one slash /.

The Superintend Registrar's District was Eton Union, Bucks and the Registrar's district was Eton. Enumeration District No. 6.

It should be noted that Eton Wick in 1841 only included the houses on the northern side of the Eton Wick Road as far west as Bell Farm. The 1841 record of houses and households is mainly limited to the roads they were on with only the three farms: Bell Farm, Manor Farm and Saddocks Farm named.

The 1841 Census reveals that there were 63 households and 322 people resident in the village on the 7th June. The oldest person, Thomas Davis with a recorded age of 85, for the 1841 census he is likely to have been born between 1751 and 1756. There was one other resident in their 80’s. The youngest at one day old was a daughter of George and Sarah Deverill who had not been named at the time of the census. There were 7 babies born in the first six months of 1841.

We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about Eton Wick and publish our findings in future articles. This is the third part of our Census Project.

Click on this link to view the 1841 census transcription for Eton Wick.

Jade Garden - A Brief History


It came as a surprise in October, to all the village, to suddenly learn that Connie and family were to leave their ‘Fish and Chips’ shop and the village the following week.  With no opportunity for proper farewells, we asked Chung, their son, to give us their memorable story:-

Image from Google Street View

Jade Garden - A Brief History

In 1988 a Chinese family moved into the village to take over what was then a fish and chip shop named Gray's.  It would start as a partnership with a third party and the business was named Eton Wick Fish Bar.

They were one of the first, if not the first fully non-British family to be welcomed to the village; they were here to work hard and try to make a living in what appeared to be a suitable area.  There were local amenities nearby: schools for their children and, more importantly, plenty of people who were interested in eating Chinese food.  Business was good, with people becoming more accepting, helped by the fact the children spoke English (and the food was good).  In 1994, the business partner was bought out and the shop was renamed Jade Garden.

For the next 22 years, Connie, Kevin and Chung (and a few different chefs) would serve the village and surrounding area with a warm welcome and smiles on their faces.  Families would move out, new families move in, older folk pass on, but Jade Garden, commonly known as Connie's, would remain part of the village.  Different generations of the same family would buy from Jade Garden: couples would start families; their children would grow and themselves buy from the shop and they later might have families of their own and thus the cycle repeated.  

After working 60-70 hours a week for most of their working life, the time became right to sell the business and welcome a new era for Jade Garden.  The discreet announcement may have seemed quite sudden but plans had been quietly progressing for some months and it would not have been appropriate to publicise them until all was finalised.  Connie and Kevin may well have regretted not saying something sooner, as there was so little opportunity to say goodbye.  Rest assured, all customers/villagers/friends will be fondly remembered, especially by Connie with her exceptional memory for faces and names.

Connie and Kevin will be spending their years of retirement in their country of birth, Hong Kong; and their large family will certainly keep them occupied.  Nevertheless, they have promised to visit the UK when they can, so maybe some of you will get to see them again some day.  

From the bottom of their hearts, the family thanks everyone who has ever supported their business over the years and made it such a success.  

Chung (Connie's son)

We heartily thank Connie, Kevin and Chung for all they meant to our community during their twenty-eight years here; and we do sincerely wish them all good health and happiness in their ‘going home’.  We also wish Jenny and her team every success in Eton Wick and may they be here at least as long as dear Connie.

Eton Wick History Group

This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of Our Village, the Eton Wick newsletter. Our Village is published three times a year by the Eton Wick Village hall Committee

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Eton Wick Census 1881

The United Kingdom Census of 1881 recorded the people residing in every household on the night of 3rd April 1881, and was the fifth of the UK censuses to include details of household members. The total population of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland (all the 32 counties of Northern Ireland and what is now the Irish Republic) was recorded as 34,884,848 persons.

Details collected include: address, name, relationship to the head of the family, marital status, age at last birthday, gender, occupation, and place of birth.

The registration District was Eton, Bucks and the sub district Eton. Enumeration District No. 6 and the enumerator was John W. Harding.

It should be noted that Eton Wick in 1881 only included the houses on the northern side of the Eton Wick Road as far west as Bell Farm. 

The 1881 Census reveals that there were 104 households and 519 people resident in the village on the 3rd April. The oldest person, Elizabeth Tarrant was 82 and was born in 1799. There were two residents in their 80’s. The youngest at two months was Emily Murkett. There were 2 babies born in the first three months of 1881.

We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about Eton Wick and publish our findings in future articles. This is the second part of our Census Project.

Click on this link to view the 1881 census transcription for Eton Wick. Or copy and paste this URL into your internet browser search bar. 

The map of Eton Wick was first published in The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 to 1977 by Judith Hunter

Sunday 9 October 2016


Charles William Hammerton (Rifleman) - 1/9th London Regiment (Queen Victoria Rifles) - 169th Brigade - 56th Division - 1st London Territorial Army

Charlie's youth was spent as an Eton Wick boy in a family of three brothers and two sisters. He was born on June 14th, 1894 as the oldest son, but second child of Mr & Mrs Edward Hammerton.

He attended the village infants school until at the age of seven he went to Eton Porny School. At that time the family was living in The Cottage, Boveney Newtown. There was at least one other move to Rosedale, Eton Wick Road, before they finally settled in No. 2 Clyde Place in the same road. He was a regular school attending youngster and was held in high regard. Charlie passed the exam to become a "Porny Scholar" and left the school on July 28th 1908 at the age of 14 years to work at No. 17, Eton High Street for the printing and bookshop of Spottiswood & Ballantyne Ltd. By 1914 he was a trained librarian.

His younger brother Fred is listed in the Parish Magazine of October 1914 as being a soldier, but Charlie is not listed until the following year. This, of course, is not evidence of when he enlisted.
The 1/9th Battalion landed in Havre on November 5th 1914 as part of the 13th Brigade in the 5th Division, and on February 10th 1916 the Battalion became part of the 169th Brigade in the 56th Division serving in the Hallencourt area.

St. George's Day 1915 saw the Brigade in action in the battle of Second Ypres after only a few days' respite following a devastating ordeal on Hill 60. A report of this action states:

The troops although weary from the march went straight into action. It was a wonderful effort, but one without any hope of success. In the face of heavy enemy fire the Brigade gained to within a varying distance of 30 to 200 yards front its positions with courage and discipline of the grandest order but could not get farther.

When the battle of the Somme opened on July 1st 1916, the Queen Victoria Rifles, as part of the 56th Division, was one of the two Territorial Divisions on the extreme left of the line with the diversionary task of attacking Gommecourt. Although reasonably successful the day was not a good for all the British army units. Casualties along the 20 mile front were very heavy and barely any advance into enemy held positions had been achieved. Throughout the summer of 1916 the Somme battle raged, until on October 8th the Battalion was loaned to 168th Brigade to help them dislodge the enemy from his strongly entrenched positions on the Transloy Ridge, preventing the British advance toward Bapaume.

Gunpits on both flanks of the enemy trenches had taken a steady toll of the 168th troops on the 7th October, and in particular of the London Scottish. On the 8th the London Rifles and the Queen Victoria Rifles were sent up in support. An assault was made at 3.30 p.m. but again with no appreciable success. At 10.30 p.m. all the troops were withdrawn. On October 9th they were on the brink of success but artillery support was inadequate, due to absence of aerial pinpointing of opposing guns and the destruction of useful landmarks. As the weather deteriorated with the onset of winter the much hoped for breakthrough never materialised.

It was on October 9th that Charlie was killed, either just before, or during the attempt to drive the German defenders off the Transloy Ridge. That night the 56th Division was relieved.

He has no known grave and his name is engraved on the magnificent Thiepval Memorial, five miles north east of the Somme town of Albert. The memorial records 73,412 names of the missing who fell in this sector of France during 1916 and 1917.

A Parish Magazine report stated:

We wish to offer our sincere sympathy to Mr & Mrs Hammerton in their bereavement. Charles Hammerton bore the highest character from boyhood, and by his devotion to his church and her services, even when on short leave, showed that he continued in the army as he was in the home. We have no details of his death at present but we are sure he proved himself a true comrade and a gallant soldier.

Two years later Mrs Hammerton had more welcome news when she was told her younger son Fred had been awarded the Military Medal for carrying messages under heavy machine gun fire. He survived the war.

Charlie was single and 22 years old at the time of his death. He is commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial, on the Eton Church tablets and on the family grave in Eton Wick Churchyard.

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

Sunday 2 October 2016

Eton Wick Census 1891

The Census of the population of the United Kingdom was undertaken on 5th April.  The population of the UK that included England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (all the 32 counties of Northern Ireland and what is now the Irish Republic) was 37,732,922.

Eton Wick is described as the part of the civil parish of Eton comprising all the houses and cottages west of the Great Western Railway including Eton Wick, Lillywhites Farm, Saddocks Farm and Eton Sewerage Farm. The whole in the parliamentary division of South Bucks.

The registration District was Eton, Bucks and the sub district Eton. Enumeration District No. 6 and the enumerator was John Langridge.

It should be noted that Eton Wick in 1891 only included the houses on the northern side of the Eton Wick Road as far west as Bell Farm.  The map of around 1875 gives an indication of the extent of the village.

The 1891 Census reveals that there were 102 households and 456 people resident in the village on the 5th April. The oldest person, William Woolhouse was 86 and was born in 1805. There were three residents in their 80’s. The youngest at less than one month was George Greenfield. There were 4 babies born in the first three months of 1891.

We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about Eton Wick and publish our findings in future articles. This is the first step on our Census Project that will over time cover all the records from 1841 onwards.

Click on this link to view the 1891 census transcription for Eton Wick. Or copy and paste this URL into your internet browser search bar. 

The map of Eton Wick was first published in The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 to 1977 by Judith Hunter

Wednesday 28 September 2016


Alfred Thomas Iremonger (Sergeant No. 7937) - A Company 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment - 6th Brigade - 2nd Division

Alfred was born in Eton Wick around 1890, although no early trace has been found of him in the records checked. His parents were Arthur and Catherine Annie Iremonger, and when they moved to the village they lived at No. 1, Tilston Villa, Tilston Lane, Boveney. This is now known as the Eton Wick Road, Eton Wick.

He had at least one sister, who later married and became Mrs Sharpe of Somerville Road. Arthur enlisted in Maidenhead and served with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Berkshires, which was one of the regiment's two regular Battalions. At the outbreak of war the Battalion was stationed at Mandora Barracks, Aldershot. On August 13th 1914 they arrived at Rouen, and 10 days later saw their first action against the Germans, during the long, weary retreat from Mons. At this early stage their casualties were relatively light. Presumably Arthur saw none of this as he is reported as enlisting on September 9th 1914 as a lance corporal. This suggests he may have been a regular soldier a few years earlier and was rejoining his regiment. The facts of this have not been positively established however.

The 1st Berkshires next saw action in the First Battle of Ypres, fought between mid-October and mid-November 1914. On this occasion their casualties were heavier, and so many officers were wounded or killed it became necessary to commission N.C.O.'s in the field. First Ypres has often been referred to as the graveyard of Britain's, small, but very professional army. We do not know when Arthur joined up with the Battalion. He was not in uniform early enough to have been in the Mons retreat, but if he had been a peacetime soldier, reserve or territorial, as the rank suggests, he could have been at Ypres. Certainly he quickly gained promotion, as 12 months after entering the army he was a sergeant in the Battle of Loos.

The battle started in the north of France on September 25th 1915 with the objective of dislodging the enemy from defensive positions in the mining region between La Bassee and Loos. North of the canal, on the extreme left flank, were Indian troops and south of the canal was the 2nd Division. Despite early gains along the front, they were not sustainable and casualties were very heavy. Arthur was reported missing on day three, September 28th.

From The Windsor and Eton Express, we first read:

Iremonger - A.T. Sergeant of 1, Tilston Villa, Eton Wick, enlisted as a lance corporal 9.9.14, is reported as wounded in France, September 28th 1915.

Again on December 25th 1915 the same paper reported:

Sergeant Iremonger  of Eton Wick as "missing".

Nine months later the Windsor & Eton Express, dated 2.9.16., printed an appeal for information with “regard to the notice of missing'". Four weeks later, on October 7th 1916 the same local paper stated that Alfred was now confirmed as killed on or about the date of December 25th 1915. This was the date he was originally reported as missing.

In the confusion of battle, with about 60,000 casualties, ground being gained and then lost, and many men being taken prisoner of war, the uncertainty is not surprising. Not quite so understandable though is the information given by the C.W.G.C. whose report states that he was killed on September 28th 1917 (approximately 21 months later) and that he has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier 11, Face D. The local paper had first reported him as wounded on September 28th 1915, and I can only conclude that there is an error of the year recorded by the C.W.G.C.

The Thiepval Memorial records the names of 73,412 missing men with no known graves. It is situated in a commanding position five miles north east of the town of Albert. Presuming the newspaper report to be correct, Arthur was 25 years old. If the C.W.G.C. is correct, he was 27. There is no apparent evidence of married status. Arthur Iremonger's name is on the Eton Wick Memorial, and also on the Eton Church Memorial Gates. 

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

Saturday 20 August 2016


Ernest Jordan (No. 33180) - Signal Company - Royal Engineers - 13th Division

Ernest was born in 1884 and was one of a family of nine children: seven girls and two boys.
One of ten small terraced cottages
of Prospect Place, built in 1823. 

Home was a small terraced house known as Prospect Place and situated between The Three Horse Shoes and The Grapes public houses. The 10 houses in the row were mainly of one room downstairs and one room upstairs, but because the Jordan family rented an end house next to The Grapes, they were blessed with a second small bedroom. In a deed of 1833 the 10 houses were required to share one well, one pump and one toilet. Just when the facilities were improved has not been established, but certainly by the time the houses were demolished during the 1920s and late '30s tapped water and a shared toilet block had been provided.

By present standards it is difficult to understand how the large family managed. Ernie attended the Eton Wick Infant School until February 2nd 1891 when, at seven years old, he went to Eton Porny School. The Porny records state he was an orphan, although his mother, Jane, still managed the family. Apparently the father had died, and it was not uncommon to be considered an orphan if one parent had gone. Ernest left school on October 3rd 1898, and doubtless the family budget was eased by whatever he was able to earn. As the family married and left home the living conditions too were eased. Some of the family are still well remembered. Sally became the wife of a village coal merchant (Bill Parrot), and William and Frances remained unmarried and lived on in Prospect Place for many more years. Ernie was 30 years old when the Great War started, but he quickly volunteered for military service.

Historians of the war are so used to concentrating upon the Western Front that they often refer to other theatres as the "side shows". Ernie's service and ultimately his life was spent at the side shows of Gallipoli and Mesopotamia (Iraq). For many thousands like him these were certainly anything but side shows. The Gallipoli offensive was launched on April 25th 1915. For several weeks little progress was made against the Turkish defenders until in June it was decided to send strong reinforcements. The only trained and uncommitted troops available were the 10th, 11th and 13th Divisions. The 13th arrived in early August and consequently had the advantage of serving in trenches alongside battle-experienced men near Cape Helles, at the foot of the Gallipoli peninsula. They later fought at Anzac Cove, north of Helles and overlooking the Aegean Sea.

By the end of the year the decision was taken to evacuate all the troops. The 13th Division returned south to Cape Helles and there formed a rearguard defence, allowing other Divisions to embark. By early January 1916 all had been successfully evacuated from Gallipoli. It had been an ill prepared venture, meant to indirectly help the Russians. Most of the Divisions were transported to the Western Front, but the 13th was taken to Mesopotamia, where the enemy was still the Turks. British and Indian troops had been on the offensive there since October 1915 and had pushed forward to within 20 miles of their objective, Baghdad.

After sustaining much sickness and casualties they were forced to withdraw and came under siege at Kut al Amara. The Kut siege lasted 147 days from December 7th until April 29th, by which time the food and general conditions made it impossible to continue and the force surrendered. During the siege a relieving column, which included the 13th Division, made several determined attempts to break through the besieging Turks. Illness was widespread in the inhospitable climate, with cholera, malaria, dysentery and fleas being endemic. With the failure of the relief column to take Kut al Amara in April 1916 it was to be several weeks before a stronger force could be assembled and moved up the long narrow country.

Ernest Jordan was reported as dying on August 20th 1916. His overseas service had taken him far away from the European theatre of war, and had resulted in him serving in two very inhospitable regions, surrounded by much climatic sickness and death. It was sickness which caused his death, and not direct enemy action. He was a single man and 32 years of age. He is buried in the Amara War Cemetery, Iraq, Plot 9; Row B; Grave No. 18. There are 22,000 graves in Iraq and more than 41,000 "missing" are commemorated on memorials as the consequence of the Great War of 1914-18. The Amara Cemetery contains 4,621 graves. Different materials and headstones were used in Iraq to overcome a problem caused by the destructive salt nature of the ground. Ernest is commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial and also on the Eton Church Memorial Gates. 

CWGC Graves registration report.

CWGC Graves register.

CWGC Memorial 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. 

Saturday 30 July 2016

30th July 1966

England played Germany in the World Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday 30th July 1966.  Bobby Moore was presented with the Jules Rimet Trophy by HM Queen Elizabeth 2nd after the thrilling 4 v 2 victory.

Tickets for the tournament must have been easy to obtain for at least some of the matches as I was a spectator at the Mexico v Uruguay match that was played at Wembley on 19th July. I went along with my two brothers and a friend from Devon. It was a sunny day and the score ended 0 v 0 just as England v Uruguay had ended in the first game of the World Cup.

You may think that the population of Eton Wick and every other community in England would have been glued to their black and with TV for the final, but that was not the case.

John Coke took me and other members of the 1st Eton Wick & Boveney Scout Troop to South Wales for a week’s camp. All the tents and other camping gear was loaded on the back of one of Bob Bond’s Bedford lorries and driven to the Neath Valley by John Fennel. I personally have a distinct memory of going down the long hill on the A4 going into Marlborough in Wiltshire as the M4 had not opened the way to Bristol.

When we arrived at our destination we scouts discovered that the camp site was some distance from the road so all the equipment and supplies needed to be carried. This was done with the troop’s trek cart. Each patrol taking turns to race down the track with the cart fully loaded. Scary to recall with its potential dangers, but I certainly remember it was great fun at the time. My overriding memory of the week is of rain and there was plenty of it during the seven days we were in camp. This memory is equally shared with the brilliant week that we had.

Another group who were not in the village on World Cup Final day were members of the Youth Club who were in St Ives in Cornwall enjoying their annual camp. Frank Bond says that a neighbouring farmer invited to campers into his home to watch the match.

My brother Andrew told me that much to his annoyance he was taken by our mother, Betty Denham to the Royal Tournament at Earls Court on a trip organised in the village. My sister Amanda says as an 8 year old she found the event very loud and action packed too.
Rev. Alan Paice

And yet another group of young people were on a trip to the Isle of Arran with Alan Paice, Priest in charge of St John’s the Baptist. My brother Michael was in this group who stayed in the Scottish National Trust hostel in the grounds of Brodick Castle. He remembers listening to the final on a radio as there were no TVs at the hostel.

Ford Transit mini bus and hostel accomodation

Rhododendron clearing. 

So one of the greatest day in the history of English Football found four village organisation taking young people and old out to participate in other events. Remarkable, do you think that the same would happen now?

If you were in St. Ives with the Youth Club, Ystradfellte for the Scout Summer Camp, Brodick Castle with the Church youth group, the trip to the Royal Tournament or any other organised outing please let us know what you remember of 30th July 1966. If you have any photographs we would be delighted if you share them on our website site.

Tuesday 19 July 2016


Frank Reginald Church (Lance Corporal No. 3760) - 2nd/4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment - 184th Brigade - 61st Division

Frank was born in Windsor in 1887, the fifth child of Thomas and Alice Church. The family home was at 64, Oxford Road, Windsor. He attended St Stephens School, Vansittart Road, Windsor and after leaving school he trained as a French Polisher. He married Sarah Ann Barrett on 24th December 1910. They had 2 children. Sarah was the daughter of Mr & Mrs Barrett of Brook Villa, Boveney. In all probability this was a Boveney house, alongside the stream by the Common gate.

After moving to Eton Wick he became Assistant to the village Scout Master. When war came he joined the 2nd/4th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. In peacetime the regiment had two regular serving Battalions and two reserve and territorial. Soon after the outbreak of the war another territorial Battalion was formed at Reading, and this was designated the 2nd/4th. Frank enlisted in Maidenhead and nominated his parents as his "next of kin".

These men were commanded by Colonel Hanbury, and they were initially accommodated and trained on the Hanbury Estate at Hitcham. Clothing and equipment was in very short supply, and the men trained for war with wooden rifles. Eventually though, training was completed, and on May 27th 1916 the Battalion was shipped to Havre.

A little over four weeks later, on July 1st, the Battle of the Somme started. Although the 2nd/4th was not involved on the Somme Front, they were engaged a mile or two north of the line in an attempt to prevent the enemy sending troops from the sector to re-inforce their comrades in the main battle area.

The Somme campaign was a very costly enterprise and on the first day the British suffered nearly 60,000 casualties, a third of whom were fatal. On July 19th Frank Church was killed. By all accounts he died courageously and at the time, the village scouts would have been very proud of him. He fell at Ferme de Bois and was buried several miles north of where he was killed.

The Windsor & Eton Express of September 1916 reported:

Church, Frank Reginald, Lance Corporal; the Berkshire Regiment, of Boveney, was killed on the night of July 19th 1916 in France. Mrs Church has since received from Major General Colin McKenzie, commanding at the front the Division in which the Berkshire (Battalion) belong, a certificate in appreciation of the act, in the following term:

`This parchment has been award to No. 3760 Lance Corporal E R. Church in recognition of the act of gallantry he performed on the night of 13/14th July 1916 at Ferme de Bois. He showed great gallantry in repeatedly going out, as a volunteer, to bring in the wounded under heavy shrapnel fire. He again displayed great courage and devotion to duty on the 19th July 1916, bringing in the wounded, but was himself killed.'

Lance Corporal Church had been associated with the Boy Scout movement for many years. After being Assistant Scout Master of the 3rd Slough, St. Mary's troop, and the Scout Master of the Holy Trinity, Windsor troop, he became, on moving to Eton Wick, the joint Scout Master of the troop there. He was a born leader of boys and had a high standard of duty in all which he undertook. All will sympathise with Mrs Church who is a daughter of Mr Barrett of Brookside Villa, Eton Wick (Boveney). We are proud of the gallantry of our fellow parishioner. R.I.P.

In a later issue of the paper:

In Memory of a Gallant Soldier. During the afternoon services at Boveney Church on Whit Sunday, Colonel Beresford of Old Place, Boveney unveiled a bronze tablet in memory of Corporal (sic) E R. Church of the 4th (sic) Royal Berkshire Regiment, (Mrs Church and her two children being among the congregation) who was killed by the enemy on July 19th 1916 at Ferme De Bois, on the Somme front, in France, while he was trying to bring in, by night, some wounded soldiers, a service for which he had volunteered. His comrades in the regiment defrayed most of the cost of the tablet as a mark of their esteem and affection. It may be added that Corporal Church had been, before the war, Scout Master at Windsor, and when he came to live at Boveney, was joint Scout Master of the Eton Wick troop.

Memorial tablet, Boveney Church

The tablet was designed by the makers, Messrs. Gawthorp and Son of Long Acre, London. No official award was made to Frank, who was killed in the performance of his brave action. Only the Victoria Cross is awarded posthumously, but had he survived he would probably have been recommended for the Military Medal or the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Frank is buried in Laventie Military Cemetery, about six miles south west of Armentieres and two miles behind the front line of July 1916. The cemetery was first used in June 1916 and contains 420 —burials: 413 being from the United Kingdom, four Australian and three German.

Frank was 29 years old. His special memorial tablet is in Boveney Church, and he is commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial and the Eton Church Gate tablets. His father-in-law, Mr Barrett, worked diligently on the village memorial committee, to ensure the village men were accorded a fitting monument.

This account of the life of Frank Reginald Church is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone and is published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond. It has been amended to include information that was not available to Mr Bond when he was undertaking his research in the 1990’s

A description and history of the Laventie Military Cemetery can be found on the WW1 Cemeteries website.

Sunday 26 June 2016

A note on the effects of the Civil War on Eton Wick

All over the country the Civil War brought an end to the wave of rebuilding and modernisation. Being so near Windsor the villagers must have been very much aware of the fighting, for the Castle was occupied by the Parliamentary forces and the Model Army used the Home Park for training. The secret burial of the executed Charles I took place one winter's day in 1649 at Windsor. The next year Cromwell's Commissioners were surveying the estates of the late king and questioning the tenants. The collegiate and parish church of Eton became known for the first time as the Chapel and in company with the other English churches was compelled to follow the puritan form of worship. For several years no children were baptised and marriage banns were proclaimed at the nearest market place.

You can read more about how the English Civil War and the Commonwealth effected Eton College in the Eton College and the Civil War page of the College website.