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.