|Bell Farm at the edge of the Parish of Eton|
Bell Farm was bought from William Goddard in 1870 for the sewage farm, and the land freed from lammas rights in the early months of the following year. Compensation for this loss of rights was negotiated by a committee appointed at a meeting of persons entitled to commonable rights and included George Lillywhite of Manor Farm. However, it was to be six years before Mr Tough took up his appointment as manager. Perhaps this was the remaining length of the lease of Mr Aldridge, farmer of Cippenham Court and tenant of Bell Farm. Not all the land was needed for the disposal of sewage, and year after year in the Minute Books of the Authority an inventory of produce, livestock and implements is given.
In earlier years after the initial purchase, some of the land was sold, but under the management of Mr Tough the farm prospered and more land was leased. The farm continued to give employment to workers from the village and indeed treated them well, as judged by a decision of 1881 to pay a man who broke his ankle at work the then princely sum of 8s 6d a week while he was off sick.
Perhaps the achievement of the Board which must have given rise to the most bitter feelings in the village was the building of the Cottage Hospital. The story began with a young man of Meadow Lane who had the misfortune to catch smallpox, but who was determined to not be considered a pauper and so be sent to the Workhouse Infirmary at Slough. There was nowhere in the parish where he could be isolated and treated. Medical help could be obtained from the Windsor Dispensary, thus putting at risk other patients. The disease did spread, not in Windsor, but in Eton itself. It was not yet possible to prevent such outbreaks, but it was now understood how they could be contained by isolating the patients. The need for an Infectious Diseases Hospital was now obvious to members of the Board.
Plans were drawn up, sites inspected and central authorities consulted; so much is clear from the Minute Books, but underneath the meagre statements is the hint of conflict between the Board and the village. Plans for converting the Bell Farm Cottages into a room for the nurses and living quarters for a caretaker were well ahead and negotiations were progressing towards the purchase of the adjoining land, when suddenly there was a change of mind and suggestions of the inadvisability of building a hospital so near the village. An alternative site was found on the Board's own land between Bell Farm and Saddocks, quite isolated from other houses. By 1883 the building was completed and its first matron, a Mrs Sarah Hopkins, was engaged at £40 per annum. A brougham was bought to do duty as ambulance and the latest disinfecting apparatus in-stalled. By May, 1884 the first patients were accepted, a mother and her three children, all suffering from smallpox.- Did they recover ? We do not know.
This is an extract from The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 to 1977 by Judith Hunter.