Friday 12 January 2018

The Joining of Boveney and Eton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

June 1907

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 1909

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

March 1910

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

July 1911

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

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

The Boveney Family

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

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

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