Wednesday 28 November 2018

Church of England at work in the village in the late 1800's

It must not be thought that the Church of England was inactive in the village. Sunday Services were held and in the 1880s more than a hundred children attended the Sunday School for which there were seven teachers and two superintendents, one of whom was always the schoolmistress. Parish work was now a recognized part of a clergyman's duties and it took a variety of forms. It was usually centred on Eton, but the villagers were included because they were parishioners, and in time successful ventures were often extended into Eton Wick. A few were simply charitable, the richer subscribing to help the poorer.  The laying-in charity, which was started in 1866, came into this category. Through it expectant mothers could borrow linen and a first layette from it and were given five shillings (25p) for the doctor's fee and two shillings (10p) for groceries. Mostly, however, there was an element of self-help in each scheme. Probably the first to be set up was the Provident Club, formed in 1840 to encourage the habit of saving and thrift by the Provident Club, formed in 1840 to encourage the habit of saving and thrift by giving a bonus to all depositors who saved for a whole year.  The money and bonus had to be spent on clothes, shoes and coals at particular shops. Nearly forty years later this idea was extended, and a Penny Bank was formed in Eton and Eton Wick; though these did not last long for they were being superseded by a Government Scheme managed by the Post Office.

Two other ventures were begun in 1866. The first was the Eton Soup Kitchen which was opened on New Year's Day. Broken meats, bread and other leftovers were sent daily to the Kitchen from the boys' Houses in the College, and were re-cooked to form nourishing stews, soups and puddings which could be purchased at nominal prices - not by all comers, but by the poor and needy who had been given tickets by one of the conducts or the parish doctor. By the end of the year the Kitchen had become self-supporting and in most years there was a small balance that could be used to keep the Kitchen open during the school holidays.  Before many years passed the conducts were being helped by District Visitors; at first, there were only three of them for the whole parish, but before the end of the century there were five for Eton Wick itself.  In 1872 the newly formed Church of England Temperance Society helped to establish the Three Lilies Coffee Tavern as an attractive alternative to the public houses.  For the first time in the parish, there was a place where people could meet and not feel obliged to drink alcohol.

In 1885 the Eton Wick Branch of the Church Temperance Society was formed with eighteen temperance members, thirty total abstainers and sixty-three children. Both branches worked towards obtaining land which could be used for allotments and three years later the first three acres in South Field were leased from the Crown. No thoughts of freezers acted as an incentive to these first allotment holders, who made time to cultivate them in spite of at least a seventy-hour working week. Poor wages, insecurity of employment, large families and the diminishing size of cottage gardens were sufficient spur.

Already a parochial library had been started in the Girls' School at Eton, though in its first year it had only 147 books and the borrowings had to be restricted.  The parish schools continued to be an important consideration to the church: every year money was needed and regularly raised by subscriptions for their maintenance, .but as town and all parts of the village grew more money was required.  A gallery was built to accommodate the infants in the village school, but still, it could not keep pace with the increasing number of children of school age. There was even talk of refusing entry to newcomers from New Town, and by the 1880’s the schoolroom was so overcrowded as to be 'unwholesome'. No longer could the Government Inspector give a favourable report; this was disastrous for without it no grant would be forthcoming.  

A new school had to be built; meetings were held, the Provost took the chair and inevitable Subscription Lists were started. The Crown granted half an acre of land and the lammas rights were relinquished. At last, building began in 1888 and by the February of the next year, the children were in their new classrooms - one for the infants and one for the girls.  The boys after the age of six or seven went to the Porny School. There was a new schoolmistress, for Miss Wheeler, after twenty years service, was now found unequal to her task under the new Government regulations.  School was now compulsory, and as infants' and girls' school it had entered a new phase in its history.

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

Wednesday 21 November 2018

A Soldier Who Lived In Eton Wick Whose Name Is Not On The War Memorial.

Frederick Albert Boxall, 1880-1917 - Private, M2/130622 Army Service Corps

Frederick’s father, Robert Boxall, was a gardener from Kirdford, Sussex, born c1827. His mother Elizabeth was about 15 years younger. (Her maiden name was also Boxall which suggests she may have been a cousin.) Robert and Elizabeth had at least seven children; six boys – Charles Robert, William George, James Percy, Alfred Ernest, Frederick Albert, Jehu John – and a daughter, Florence.

In the 1871 census they were living at Maybanks Lodge, Ewhurst; in 1881 at Meers Cottage, West Chiltington (where Frederick was born); and in 1891 they were at Pol Common, Pulborough.

Stableboy at Upper Gatton.

Upper Gatton House,
watercolour by John Hassell, c1822
By 1901, Frederick was working as a stable boy, living in rooms above the stables at Upper Gatton in Surrey. He was one of four young men living there; the others were a coachman, a carriage groom, and another stable helper.

Gatton was a small parish, north-east of Reigate; half of it was taken up by the 550-acre Gatton Park Estate. Upper Gatton was owned by Alfred Benson, a director of J W Benson Ltd, a firm of jewellers, watch and clock-makers, based in London’s West End.

According to Mr Campbell Beverly Smith (1881-1977) whose memories were published in the Lower Kingswood Newsletter in 2014:

“Each member of the [Benson] family had a personal coachman. The Bensons also employed seven gardeners, seven strappers for the horses, 19 maids plus a ladies maid, a butler, a footman and a pageboy! Mr Benson always made sure before employing anyone that they were cricketers – he had his own team. There was a cricket pitch with two pavilions in his grounds, one for the family and one for the rest! Amongst his greenhouses, he had a special buttonhole house where the special flowers for the family’s buttonholes were grown. His wife even had a special buttonhole room.” The Bensons’ neighbours were the Colmans who were known for their extravagant parties. “Sir Jeremiah Colman’s family lived nearby, at The Hall, Gatton Park; he was known as ‘The Mustard King’ and all their carriages were painted yellow to show they belonged to the Colman mustard family.”

A move to the coast

By the time of the 1911 census, Frederick was living in Brighton. He listed his occupation as coachman/chauffeur, rough-rider, and domestic odd job man. (A rough rider is usually a rodeo rider, or someone who breaks horses, riding without a saddle. Perhaps he learned this skill while he was at Gatton?) Sir Jeremiah Colman had a cousin, also Jeremiah Colman, in Hove, Brighton. It’s not known if Frederick found a job in the area through his contacts at Gatton.

Frederick was living in four rooms at 271 Eastern Road, Kemptown, Brighton (since demolished). The 1911 census recorded him with a wife and child. He had married a Devonshire girl, Mary Ann Davey from Dalwood, in November 1907 at St Anne’s church, Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales.

Frederick and Mary Ann went on to have four children in total; Robert, born in Brighton c1909, May also born in Brighton in 1911; John born in Stafford in 1913, and Ethel whose birth was registered in Eton in 1916. The birthplaces of these children suggest the family was moving around, perhaps following Frederick’s work.

Joining the army

An extract from Frederick’s
military records
When Frederick enlisted in October 1915, he gave his address as 1 Castleview Villas, Eton Wick. He was 34 and working as a chauffeur. The army made good use of his driving skills and he became Private, M2/130622, a driver in the mechanical transport section of the Army Service Corps, part of 569 Company, a Motor Ambulance Company. His service records describe him as 5’7” tall, weighing just under 10 stones, with a chest measurement of 37½” fully expanded, 34” at rest.

Family in the Datchet?

Sometime after Frederick joined up in October 1915, Mary Ann and the children moved to Datchet, to 28 Green Lane. There were other Boxalls, Matthew and Clara and family, living in the village at Green Lane in the 1891 and 1901 census and at the Parish Council Office in 1911. It is very possible they were related to Mary Ann and Frederick but this hasn’t yet been confirmed. Two of Matthew and Clara’s sons also fought in WWI.

Illness strikes

It wasn’t long before Frederick was promoted to Sergeant but after six months in France, in mid-April 1916, he became ill with typhoid. He was brought back to the UK and treated at various hospitals: University War Hospital, Southampton; Addington Park War Hospital, Croydon; The Enteric Depot, Woldingham; and then tested monthly at Catterick and Southport. Eventually he was well enough to come home to Datchet on leave in February 1917. Sadly, he contracted pneumonia while he was here. He died in a military hospital in Wiltshire on 1 March 1917.

A military escort

Windsor & Eton Express, 10 March 1917:

Frederick’s grave has a
War Graves Commission headstone
"Frederick was buried in Datchet. The Windsor & Eton Express reported on 10 March 1917: “We regret to record the death of Sergt F Boxall, ASC, which took place at Tidworth, from pneumonia. The deceased, who was formerly a chauffeur joined the ASC in October 1915, and almost immediately was sent to France. Last May [1916] he was taken ill with typhoid and was brought to England. Eventually he got better and about a month ago came home on leave before again going back. The Saturday previous to his departure he contracted pneumonia, from which he never recovered. His promotion took place only a short time prior to his illness. He leaves a wife and four young children, to whom the greatest of sympathy is extended. The funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon last and was witnessed by many sympathisers. A party from the Coldstream Guards met the funeral cortege at the house, and the drums and fifes played farewell music. At the conclusion of the service three volleys were fired, and the ‘Last Post’ sounded. The Rev J H Harvey, M A officiated and Mr G Hunt had charge of the arrangements. The mourners included: Mrs Boxall (widow), Mrs Boxall (mother), Messers E., W., and P [Ernest, William and Percy] Boxall, brothers, and others and there were many floral tributes."

Datchet Parish Magazine also reported in April 1917:

“Sergeant Frederick Boxall who belonged to A.S.C. since October 1915 had a long illness, or rather a series of illnesses from May last onwards, succumbing a short time ago to pneumonia. Much sympathy is felt for his widow and her four young children.” 

The cemetery records also show
details of Frederick’s burial.
Frederick was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 15 Star. His wife was awarded a pension of 28/9 per week for herself and her four children.

This biography is republished here with the kind permission of the
Datchet Village Society. who undertook the research. Further information about the men who are remembered on the Datchet War Memorial can be found on Datchet in WW1.

Frederick Boxall: The For King & Country page.

Frederick Boxall:  Lives of the First World War page.

The Datchet War Memorial page on Buckinghamshire Remembers website.

Grave Registration Records courtesy of CWGC

Headstone Records courtesy of CWGC

Wednesday 14 November 2018

The Story of Oliver James Stannett in his own word - Part Four

Dad got a job on the Thames Conservancy repairing Boveney Lock gates. They had finished the gates and had to repair the path with bags of cement and fill in behind them to make up the path. All the materials were brought in by barge.

One day they were waiting for the barge to arrive so decided to have their lunch. P. C. Pheasant came along to see what we were doing. There were planks going out on to the barge with a couple of wheelbarrows. P. C. Pheasant walked out to the end of the plank and looked into the river. Dad put his foot against the end of the plank and pushed and P. C. Pheasant fell into the river. Then a couple of men pulled him out. Without a word he got onto his bike and went home. I think Dad was a bit too artful for our P.C. Anyway P. C. Pheasant left Eton Wick as he was made inspector for a small place in the Midlands.

But there is one thing I must tell you which might have had some bearing on his attitude towards us. Just across the stream at the bottom of our garden was a small fever hospital for Eton College boys. There was a high hedge with poplar trees all round it so it was a hard job to get in. We had to be content with the apples that were overhanging.

We were there one day when we saw P. C. Pheasant coming across the common. We all bolted to the sewage farm and of course P. C. Pheasant had to follow. There was a big bank with sluice gates so that the whole field could be covered. Every fifty yards was a sluice gate. Several of the covers had rotted. We ran along the top of the bank. I looked round but P. C. Pheasant had disappeared. We stopped and then saw him coming out of the gate. He had gone in up to his waist. We disappeared. My Mum and Dad had a good laugh about it. Of course, he had his leg pulled unmercifully by the villagers but none knew how it happened. I think he was rather glad to get away from there.

One day when I was twelve years old Mum gave me tuppence (2d.) and asked me to go to W. Hearne, the shoe repairer's shop and get Dad two pairs of boot laces. The shop was situated next to The Grapes public house. I ran to the shop and went inside but there wasn't anybody there.

I shouted a couple of times but nobody came. As the laces were hanging up in bunches so that one could pull them out I decided to go round the counter and get two pairs. I thought of leaving the tuppence on the counter but decided against it in case someone came in and picked it up.

So I pulled out the till to put the tuppence in and got the shock of my life! A bell started ringing in the back room. Mr. Hearne came dashing in, "Ha! Caught you," he said. I stood there and started to explain but he would not listen. He said, " Stop there, I will fetch the village constable." So I waited about ten minutes. I could have run away but didn't. So I was taken to the Windsor police station. I was put in a cell. Dad came to see me and I was taken home.

The case came up a fortnight later and I was found guilty and ordered to have six strokes of the birch. I have never forgotten it. You see when I walked in there were blood stains all over the walls and floor. I had to lay on a table and the punishment was administered by a very large policeman. I didn't want any more like that.

I cannot understand why my mother never gave evidence for me. Anyway three weeks after Hearne sold his shop and bought a taxi. He must have found that I had not taken any money when he counted the money in the till so he packed up the repair business.

This is the only conclusion I can come to after thinking about it over the years. 

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.

Sunday 11 November 2018

The Great War Roll of Honour


















Chatham air raid




Aegean Sea

HMS Vanguard

Henry Moss M2/097873 21/10/1918 Roisel


Turkey POW


Ploegsteert Woods

Outtersteene Ridge


Asfold POW camp



Orpington from effects of Gas