Wednesday, 19 June 2019

The Closure of St. Gilbert's Church

St. Gilbert's Church, Hayward's Mead
It was at the beginning of December when we were informed that St. Gilbert's was to close and that our last service would be on 6th January (The Epiphany). We knew the 'writing was on the wall' as, for the past few years, services had been reduced to one Sunday and one Friday Mass per month (plus Christmas Day and Easter Sunday) but we really had hoped that this might be allowed to continue, for whilst we had those few services it did at least mean that there was a visible Catholic presence in the village and the Catholic church was available for baptisms and funerals etc. In recent years, a retired priest, Father Bosco Clarke, generally came over from Maidenhead to celebrate the Sunday Masses (ably assisted by our Deacon, Paul Lipscomb); and our Parish Priest, Father Andy Richardson, was always on hand for the Friday evening service, and for special celebrations. 

A letter from our Bishop, which outlined the reasons for closure, referred to the reality of there now being fewer priests. The letter also mentioned the need to spend a lot of money on the church on maintenance issues; we had always tried very hard not to cost the diocese too much money in upkeep: for example, the interior had not been redecorated for over twenty-five years, and the interior plumbing and wiring was as installed in 1964; but inevitably major work would be required in order to bring the building up to a legally compliant modern standard. Hence, the Diocese, who are having to prioritise with many other churches around the diocese in a similar situation, took the difficult decision to close St Gilbert's and sell the land. 

The St. Gilbert's congregation always enjoyed sharing the church with our other local denominations and were often involved in ecumenical happenings: we took our turn with them in hosting the Churchyard Committee meetings, the recently established 'Thy Kingdom Come' prayer breakfast, and the annual (Women's) World Day of Prayer (some of us got together to represent Catholics at the recent one at St. John's). We even opened St. Gilbert's to an impromptu hosting of last December's 'Carols and Dress-Up Nativity Play', which couldn't take place by the village Christmas Tree due to very strong cold winds — Father Andy was represented by Father Emmanuel Okami. For more than twenty years, Mary McCarthy ran a youth club (called Charlie's Angels) at the church for children from 5 to 12 years old. We will very much miss having the opportunity to share in this way. 

As many of you will already know, it was in 1954 that a Father Dunstan (formerly a Torpedo Boat Coxswain!!) encouraged Eton Wick's Catholics to strive to finance the construction of their own church in the village. At that time, Sunday morning Mass was being celebrated in the Village Hall (for which the hire charge was 4 shillings per week and the clearing of Saturday night's debris); and, prior to that, villagers had made their way to 'Our Lady of Sorrows' at Eton. A committee was elected, a raffle held and the £3 raised was the first contribution to the fundraising. A few years (and a lot of jumble sales, bazaars, and dances) later, the funds had reached £4,000 and money subsequently pledged realised the total required for construction to commence, with the foundations being dug by the parishioners themselves. Ten years after Father Dunstan's challenge, on the day before Palm Sunday in 1964, the Roman Catholic Church of St. Gilbert was blessed by Bishop Leo Parker. St. Gilbert's was built at a cost of £16,000 on land which was purchased for £1,500. We are thankful that none of those who worked so hard to provide this Catholic church remain to see its closure. 

Interior of St. Gilbert's
Eton Wick Catholics have scattered, for a variety of reasons, to various local churches (although we officially remain in 'Our Lady of Peace' parish) and we have lost our physical `home'; but we are still together in our faith. It just remains for us to say 'Thank you' to all those villagers (whether Christian or non-Christian) who have supported St. Gilbert's in different ways throughout the past 54 years, your various kindnesses have been much appreciated and we will remember them in our prayers. 

Written on behalf of St. Gilbert's Clergy and Congregation 

This article was first published in the Our Village April 2019 edition.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Work of the Eton Wick Council after WW1

A few items in the Minute Books make amusing reading today such as that of August 1919 when it was proposed that an application should be made to the County Council for a speed limit of 10 mph through the Wick. Motor traffic was travelling at an estimated speed of 20 to 25 mph and causing a considerable dust nuisance, but this would continue for many years until the road was tarred. 

In view of national opinion and later events one entry in 1918 is very unexpected. It was proposed that the reply to a letter from the Eton Rural District Council (RDC) should state that no need existed for working-class housing in the parish. The RDC were planning to build the first council houses in Eton Wick - 'the homes for heroes' of World War I. Perhaps there really was no need for such houses in the village, though it is likely the difficulty of finding suitable building land was uppermost in their minds. Whatever the reason the opinion of the Parish Council was disregarded and plans went ahead with no further consultations. A public meeting was held in Eton and the lammas rights were extinguished on part of Broken Furlong near the relief road. Once again the Parish Council tried to make their voice heard , but in vain. By 1921 a Housing Advisory Committee had been formed, and very soon a list of applicants for the eight houses was being drawn up. Five of them were ex-servicemen and within a very short time the first tenants were in residence. The new houses were named South View and with their red tiles sloping low over the front of each pair of houses they stand apart from the other houses in the village both in style and by distance. Accepted housing standards had changed and these houses were built with three bedrooms and a bathroom: there were few others in the village with such luxurious accommodation. 

These were not the only houses built in Eton Wick in these years. The dreadful floods at the end of the nineteenth century hastened the emigration of many families from Eton and the lower parts of Windsor, and some of them came to Eton Wick. Many moved into New Town, but others, especially the more prosperous of the families, had new homes built along the Eton Wick Road towards Dorney Common. Mr Vaughan lived for a few years in Boveney Cottage, Mr Kemp, fishmonger of Eton, at White Cottage (no 69) and the residents of Tilston Villa, The Ferns, Dayrell Villa and others were included in the 'private residents' section of the local directory, a subtle distinction we would find hard to draw today. Many of these houses were built by the expanding firm of Burfoot & Son; Henry Burfoot himself moved premises to a more prominent position on the main road. His home and business premises still stand out with its hard red bricks contrasting sharply with the yellow bricks and pebble-dash of most of his neighbours. 

Gradually much of the land south of the Eton Wick Road, or Tilston Lane as it was then known, was transformed as it was sold plot by plot by the Palmer family of Dorney. At the turn of the century it was still mostly farmland, but by 1930 Victoria Road had reached its present length ; houses, gardens, allotments and orchards and the yards of Mr Nuth's pig and rabbit farm covered much of the area. Only behind the Shepherd's Hut did there remain one last piece of meadow - Meux's Field, still cut for hay and grazed in summer. Few people can now remember this southern part of the old Tilston Field, for the last plot was sold in the 1920s, but other memories linger on, such as the long lines of drying rabbit skins and milk being sold over the bar at the Shepherd's Hut . Meux's Field was also the scene of a fun fair which brought excitement of the usual kind to the village for a week each summer. 

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

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Our Village April 2013 - The way things were - The Village Grows

I am sure that some readers of the previous magazine were surprised to learn that just 50 - 60 years ago so many pigs were living among the homes of Common Road and of course in other parts of our village. This gives cause to reflect on what was here years ago. My memory may cover the last 80 years, but only hearsay and records can go further back. Of the latter there is scant to call on, other than Dr. Judith Hunter's book of 1977 on Eton Wick. I know of no other book of any era exclusively on Eton Wick's general history. It is said that with its Anglo Saxon name it probably pre dates Eton College (1440) by several hundred years, albeit perhaps no more than a supplier of fuel, thatch and food to the place of Eton, itself not the town that we understand today. Only 150 years ago the small village had no church, no public buildings and a small school of little more than two decades old. There was no drainage, piped water, and of course no gas or electricity. Some lucky homes had a pump in the garden, which was probably shared, and wood fires, candle and oil lamps were the norm. Perhaps of small wonder that the population of around 300 justified four pubs, where at least a roaring log fire and company were great attractions. Of all the pub names surely there was a need for a 'Linger longer Inn.

If we look at village geographic changes of that last 150 years we must remember that Eton Wick's west boundary was at Bell Lane; originally a farm track linking Bell Farm to the rutted, muddy track (allegedly an old Kings Highway, still in situ), with Eton's Brocas Street, Windsor, and the river ferries. I can think of no buildings along the north side of Eton Wick Road that would have existed 150 years ago; between the Slads and Cattle Pound and Sheepcote Road, apart from perhaps the College Sanatorium (1844) and small cottages behind it.

Eton Wick Church had not been built (three years to go), the rail viaduct was little more than ten years old, and built of wood. Three farm houses would have been visible, but were at least 120 metres away, and bordered the Great Common. Incidentally the site of the Sanatorium (now The Sandles) was considered for an Eton workhouse for the homeless in 1834, but the project was dropped in favour of a larger workhouse in Slough (Upton Hospital today).

During the 1880 - 90s era the Temperance Guild was very influential in its aim to combat the effect of alcohol and to hopefully engage the men in worthwhile pursuits. Locally they probably brought about the first allotments in I believe 1894. (Dr. Judith Hunter suggests a year or two earlier). These were on a three acre plot, opposite the Old Parsonage. (These allotments closed in 1994 when the lease expired.) More allotments soon followed. A large site covered what is now Hayward's Mead and extended to the St. Gilberts RC Church. More allotments were created on a strip of Sheepcote Field between the school and Common Road. The Haywards Mead estate ends abruptly opposite Vine Cottage. The Council of the day - Eton Urban - would have liked Hayward Mead to extend further east, but it was not possible to release the Green Belt land, as others have found out since. Incidentally, the land opposite Vine Cottage was worked by my father during the Great War, and had German POW's providing the labour. I often wish I had got more details from Dad, but we all say this when it is too late.
During the 1930s the land now occupied by the Scout Movement was used as a camp site. Perhaps never more than six to ten tents, mostly at weekends, but surely an attractive place for Londoners and others. Unfortunately the campers needed to use one of the two paths through the allotments to the village shops and pubs, and they were frequently blamed for produce being stolen from the vegetable plots. 150 years ago the village itself was very different. Along the main road we had the Old Parsonage (then a large residential home with no church connections); a small school (1840) at the main road/Walk Road junction; The Grapes public house (now Silk Route Chinese restaurant), a terrace row of ten small houses (Prospect Place) and 'The Three Horseshoes' pub. Between these sparse dwellings, apart from the two end houses of Prospect Place, which had two rooms up and two down, I understand the other eight of that row had only one up and one down. The toilet blocks were probably 20 yards behind the houses and were shared. 

Originally built as farm cottages, they were occupied into the 1930s. The land between the spaced out houses would have been the long gardens of the homes along Common Road. Having been accustomed to very long plots by todays' standards, residents would have felt the need for an allotment when their land was sold for the main road development of St. Leonards Place, Harding Cottages (now the site of Clifton Lodge), Vine Cottages, Ada Cottage, Bonaccord Cottages (originally Tarrant Cottages), Clyde Place, Welman Cottages, and Palmer Place. In the fullness of time the house names became superfluous, being replaced by street numbers. Grazing cattle on common lands were controlled not by the owner but by an appointed 'Hayward'. The local Hayward had a plot for his own use as part of his 'perks' and this was by, or part of, Church Meadow, Eton. He may have had a plot in the village also, but certainly this is where the name of Hayward Mead is derived from. 

Our area is rich with gravel which is only a few inches below the surface. When this hard core was needed for farm tracks, or perhaps foundations, it was simply dug out and utilised. The consequent pits were then used as rubbish tips, there being no rubbish collections in the years the village had its own Council (1894 — 1934) intent on controlling a very low rate. One such tip was opposite St. John the Baptist Church and was much used by the village school for its empty pottery ink bottles, old slates etc., There were at least five such 'tips' in my childhood, much to the delight of scavenging boys. Perhaps the other very rural appearance of our village was the trees. 

Predominantly elms, there were a few oaks and an occasional ash. They must be a feature of all old Eton Wick village photos with many along the south side of the Great Common and probably as many as 20 round Wheatbutts Field — now an estate. It is only 40 years since most of these succumbed to Dutch Elm disease, although some with their roots in flood water (1947) blew down in a strong wind.

In my next article I hope to write about the Boveney end of the village — west of Bell Lane, which for so long seemed independent of the old village. When Eton Wick had its own Council (1894 — 1934) Boveney Newtown also had its own Council. This tended to polarise the communities. 

Submitted 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.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Saddocks Farm

This photograph dates to around the 1930s, when it was farmed by Arthur Tarrant and his family. Robert 'Sadocke' farmed here in the 1500s. The farm house and its extensive garden is on the left. The farm house is mainly 19th century, but closer inspection of the bricks and other features of the west (left-hand) side of the house show this part to be very much older. The farm buildings are, from the left, stables, the cow (milking) shed, and a dutch barn. The much older barn beyond that was constructed of reclaimed timbers, possibly ex-ships, pitched shiplap boards on a low brick wall, and clay roof tiles. Much of the barn, and the roof tiles of Saddocks Farm Cottages (opposite the barn beyond the photo) was lost in the great gale of 1987. Since Elizabethan times, ownership of the property has passed several times between the Crown and Eton College. When the farm cottages were built, the farm was Crown Estate as depicted on the date tablet on the west cottage — 1868 with `VR' and a Crown above. There are a number of architecturally similar cottages scattered around the farm estates in Windsor Great Park. A circular thatched corn rick can be seen in the rick yard on the right. Up to the 1960s, Eton Wick Cricket Club played on the meadow beyond the farm house. For many visiting sides it was a novel and popular venue, despite the long grass of the outfield, interspersed with cow pats and rabbit holes. The farm was re-acquired by Eton College around 1940. 

This article was first published in A Pictorial History of Eton Wick & Eton.

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. 

In 1886 they moved to Eton High Street. About 1890 William became apprenticed to his father, who hoped he would join him in the building trade. William worked for his father, but was particularly interested in drawing and painting, and took evening classes at the Windsor and Eton Royal Albert Institute. In 1893 his father agreed that he could leave his apprenticeship and join the National Art Training School in South Kensington. John Simmonds died in 1912, William in 1968.

William Simmonds, though born in Istanbul, could be said to have been domiciled in Eton Wick in his earliest years, then in Eton. 

I was interested in the Eton Wick connection because my mother’s family lived there for many years. My grandparents, Thomas and Mary Wing, lived at 49 Victoria Road from about 1919 to 1946. I often stayed with them as a child. My youngest aunt, Joan Ballhatchet, was in Eton Wick from about 1919 to 2017, apart from a few years in the 1940s. I may have met some of you at her funeral.

[The Simmonds family may have had two pubs, the Grapes Beer House and the Horse Shoes, or they may be the same pub. I found them in your excellent transcript of various censuses, but I was not certain about it]

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.