Tuesday 28 December 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - History of the Churches of Eton Wick.

The Eton Wick Village History Group was treated to a trio of presenters at their last meeting on 26th June 1996, each of the trio representing one of Eton Wick's places of worship.

1930's Chapel Plan

Neville Thorman spoke first, about the newly extended and refurbished Methodist Chapel, which was built in 1886 entirely as the result of the vision of Frances Annie Tough, a young woman who had come to Eton Wick in 1877 from Rotherhithe, on her marriage to Charles Tough who had been appointed manager of Bell Farm. Annie Tough, with her sister, had become very much involved with the Methodist Church in Rotherhithe and when she came here she soon saw the need to encourage a religious approach locally, and she spent part of her first Sunday in the village delivering tracts. She found travelling to the Primitive Methodist Church in Windsor inconvenient and was rebuffed when she asked them for money to help build a chapel here; she tried Maidenhead and they decided to support her by sending a Mission Band to Eton Wick; she went to the Windsor Congregationalists' services in 'The iron Room' on the Common but, initially at least, found them uninspiring. Annie Tough's mission was to build a chapel and eventually the present site was obtained, through a certain amount of bargaining with a developer, James Ayres, who gave her the land as a reward for her perseverance. The small, congregation of Primitive Methodists set to and found the £300 that it cost to construct the Chapel, some by paying one shilling per week as a pew rent, and it opened. in October 1886. Frances Annie Tough died in 1930 aged 76. The first extension to the Chapel cost £519; and this most recent refurbishment (the 2904 Project) has cost £130,000. Many of the people who have done a lot for the Chapel are commemorated with plaques on the walls of the Chapel Mr. Thorman concluded his most interesting talk with slides showing the refurbishment in progress and also how the Chapel serves the community.

St Gilbert's 

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Gilbert was built in 1964 and Chris Stevens was able to tell the Group where the clergy for this Church came from and how it is only in the last five years that St. Gilbert's has had a secular clergy_ There is no recorded Catholic Church between Windsor and Boveney until 'Our Lady of Sorrows' was built in Eton in 1915 (Lord Bray - an Old Etonian thought that the Catholic boys at the College were lacking in instruction and so had the church built), although there may have been a 'Chapel of Ease' or Chantry for the groups who would go on pilgrimage, tracking along the river. For some years prior to the building of St. Gilbert's, Mass was celebrated on Sunday mornings in the Village Hall - hired for the princely sum of four shillings per week. Chris Stevens told the Group how an original and attractive design for the church was rejected by the Diocese but was later used for the church at Wargrave. St Gilbert's was built, at a cost of £16,000, to a different design on land which was purchased for £1,500. The church was blessed but not consecrated - perhaps it could be consecrated on a appropriate anniversary? St Gilbert, the son of a rich man, wanted to be a priest but initially was turned down because he was a cripple, but. he persisted and became one of the great teachers of religion_ St. Gilbert's is in the Parish of Burnham.

St John the Baptist

Finally, Peter Kreamer told the Group how the Church of St John the Baptist was built in 1866 and so is the oldest church- in Eton Wick. Peter regards himself as the Church's odd-job man. The Church of England became interested in Eton Wick in the 1830's when one of Eton College's chaplains, Henry Harper, encouraged the building of a school room on the corner of Eton Wick Road and The Walk, which doubled as a church. However, by the 1806's the local worshippers needed a larger building, this was recognised by the Provost of Eton College who still then had responsibility for Eton Wick, and by 1867 St John the Baptist, had been built and consecrated, with a lot of the financing contributed not only by Eton College, but by the people of Eton and Eton Wick - the site itself was given by Queen Victoria and she also gave £100 towards the construction costs. The architect was Sir Arthur Blomfield, whose son went on to do many designs for the War Graves Commission. The cost of the construction of the church was E1,573, and the church remained under the auspices of Eton College until 1875 when the Church of St. John the Evangelist was built in Eton. In 1891 the 'Children's Window' was installed - paid for by offerings collected at the children's services In 1892 the first licensed burial took place in the new ecumenical churchyard -that of a six week old child of the Langridge family, who were at Manor Farm at that time. In 1897 the church was licensed to conduct marriages. Mr. Kreamer then went on to speak of when the church was flooded in both 1894 and 1947, of the installation of gas lighting (1935) and subsequently electricity (1951); and of the many local activities prompted by the Church, often in competition with other local organisations.

But it is good to note that there are times when all three Churches work together; just to give two examples: all are represented at the Remembrance Day Service at St. John the Baptist; and the ladies all get together in one of the churches for the Women's World Day of Prayer.

Mr. Frank Bond thanked the speakers. He mentioned that The Pound was to be officially locked with ceremony on 12th July. The next meeting of the group will be on Wednesday, 4th September, when Mr. R.J. Clibbon will speak on 'The History of the Local Council'.

During the 1990's the Parish Magazine of Eton, Eton Wick and Boveney reported on the meetings of the Eton Wick History Group. A member of the audience took shorthand notes in the darkened hall. This article was published in the September edition of 1996.

Monday 20 December 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - J.T. Ireland

 J T Ireland

 At one time the village firm of J T Ireland employed around 60 men and apprentices. James (Jimmy) Ireland started his business on leaving the army after the Second World War and built extensively in Eton Wick and Dorney. Eton Wick developments include east side of Tilstone Avenue and the eastern end of Queens Road. In this photograph Jimmy is presenting a gold watch to Charlie Simpson to mark his 25 years' service with the company. Mrs Ireland is on the right. 

Jimmy was a great supporter and benefactor of the village Scouts and the Youth Club. He became an Eton Urban District Councillor in 1947 and served as Chairman of the Housing Committee, and then as Chairman of the Council up to 1954. 

Between 1952 and 1981 he served on Buckinghamshire County Council as Chairman of Works, Planning, Staff and Finance and also as Vice Chairman of the County Council for 10 years, besides various other appointments. In 1957 he became a Magistrate and served as Chairman for 15 years. In 1975 he became Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire and in 1982 was appointed Commander of the British Empire (C.B.E.). 

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

Monday 13 December 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - December 1941 - War in the Far East and The National Service Act No. 2

Before the end of 1941, the war spread to the Far East with the attack on December 7th by Japan on the United States of America. Countries of the British Empire were also invaded (Burma, Malaya, Hong Kong, and Singapore) and to these new theatres of war Eton Wick servicemen went; some were to die in action, others of malnourishment and disease after being taken prisoners of war. 

The National Service Act No.2 received its Royal Assent on 18th December and it enabled the Government to conscript Women aged 20 to 30 years for munition work or for the Armed Services; later it was to cover age groups 19 to 51 years. This Act altered many women's lives as they were directed to aircraft factories, munitions, shipyards, public services, or the Armed Forces. The demand from the factories for labour to replace the men called up for military service soon found women from the village drafted to munitions. Two such people were Mrs Edie Miles who was drafted to work on the production of shell caps in Slough and Edie Stacey who went to work at Hawkers Aircraft. 

This was a far different life from that to which she was accustomed having been in domestic service at Eton College. Her brother Frank recalled the trials of walking the three miles to work at that time. The winter weather of 1941/42 was first wet followed by frost which made the muddy track from Eton Wick known as the Slypes, (Wood Lane Fields) to Slough very treacherous. The track being very narrow the only way to keep one’s balance and to get along was to resort to hessian bound over our shoes. On one occasion Edie had to wait sometime after getting to work for the added hessian sacking to thaw to enable her to remove her feet from her footwear.

Clothes rationing had put a coupon value of seven on a pair of shoes or boots. To lessen the interruption from air raids to munitions production, machinery was installed in suitable premises of any size and one such workshop was at Ernest Martins, Undertakers of 92 Eton High Street, to manufacture
DZUS Fasteners that were used to retain inspection panels on aircraft and other equipment.

This is an extract from Round and About Eton Wick: 1939 - 1945. The book was researched, written and published in 2001 by John Denham. 

Monday 6 December 2021

The History Group Programme for 2022

Well, we have had our first two ‘après-covid’ talks and they went very well, and we were pleased to see very encouraging audience numbers (you do know that these events are open to all, there is no membership list?). The first talk was given by Josh Lovell and his topic was ‘Thomas Lawrence and the Waterloo Chamber’ – Josh’s presentations are always extremely professional and full of information and illustrations – Thomas Lawrence was commissioned to paint many of the portraits in the Waterloo Chamber, of people (mainly military) who were significantly involved in the Battle of Waterloo; you will see, in our 2022 programme, below, that Josh has kindly agreed to entertain us again next April, with his talk on Frogmore House in Windsor Great Park. The event we enjoyed in October was a talk given by the eloquent Nigel Smales on ‘Willie and Ettie: The Souls of Taplow Court’ – a fascinating account of the heady days of fun and frolics that various members of the aristocracy and other notables (probably all listed in the ‘Who’s Who’ of the time!) enjoyed there; often, an over-spill had to be accommodated ‘up the road’ at Cliveden! Taplow Court’s current inhabitants are the gentle members of a religious sect: they open their doors to the public on one or two occasions every year so that individuals can have a look around and (certainly prior to Covid) enjoy afternoon tea.

Our final talk in 2021 will be at 7.30 pm on Wednesday, 8th December, when Dr. David Lewis will entertain and inform us with his talk titled ‘A Window on Windsor’s Medieval Past: the town’s property deeds’; after the talk, there will be ‘festive refreshments’.

Our Programme for 2022:

12 January ‘A History of Herschel Park, Slough’ with Elias Kupfermann

23 February ‘The History of Natural History at Eton College’ with George Fussey

13 April ‘Frogmore House in Windsor Great Park’ with Joshua Lovell

25 May [Speaker invited – awaiting response.]

13 July [Speaker invited – awaiting response.]

14 September ‘The Village History Through the Website’ with Steven Denham

26 October ‘The War Horse Memorial’ with Alan Carr MBE

14 December ‘Woman of Wax’ (the story of Madame Tussaud) with Tony Weston

The programme is currently incomplete and is subject to change.

This article was written by Teresa Stanton, History Group Honorary Secretary and was first published in the December 2021 edition on The Eton Wick Newsletter.

Monday 29 November 2021

Old Days of Eton Parish - The Beginnings of the Church in Eton A.D. 925 to 1212


BEFORE attempting to trace the first beginnings of the Church in Eton, it will be well to review very shortly the history of the Church in this country generally, and especially in that part of it with which we are concerned. 

There is no evidence to show that the British Church which existed in our island, from the second to the fourth century, had extended to the neighbourhood of Eton. At least with the expulsion of the Britons by the Saxons, all signs of Church settlements disappeared, and heathenism again reigned supreme. 

Nor are there any proofs that the mission of St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, reached as far as the north bank of the Thames. 

The first mission that penetrated Wessex, as this part of the country was then called, was led by Bishop Birinus, who was consecrated in Italy by the Archbishop of Milan. With a band of monks from Northern Italy, he landed on the Hampshire coast, and passing Winchester made his way gradually along the Thames valley; eventually he penetrated as far as Oxfordshire, and established his cathedral at Dorchester (1). There in 635 this Bishop of Wessex baptised Cynegils, the King of the West Saxons, and his eldest son. 

The growth of Christianity, in the country through which he passed, seems to have been surprisingly rapid and of a sturdy character. 

These Anglo-Saxons, like the Old British Christians, were free from all foreign interference, their Services were said in their native tongue, their Christianity was untainted by any of the later Roman developments. Though they were a rough people and sometimes given to violence, they were staunch believers, and nobly generous in their support of the ancient faith.

The first settlements of converts had probably to be content with the periodical visits of a monk or priest, who would hold an outdoor service, in their native language, at the foot of a Cross set up in their village ; and then a little later they would build a simple Church and perhaps support a resident priest. 

In Anglo-Saxon times, before the coming of the Normans, most of the Church buildings were small and poor. Here and there are found remains of Churches built of stone, but they were generally made of rough timber cut down from the oak forests, smeared with rough-cast, and thatched with reeds. They showed little beauty of architectural design; they were however the beginnings of better things. 

Although monks and monasteries had in later days an ill repute, and more or less deserved it, it must be borne in mind that many of the stories told against them were exaggerated by those who wanted an excuse for enriching themselves at their expense. At any rate, at the time with which we are concerned, they were doing a vast work towards the future of England. 

Besides Christianising the country, these colonies of monks were busy erecting mills and farm-houses, making roads and bridges, draining marshes, clearing forests, cultivating wastes, opening up communication both by land and water, and so laying foundations for the civilisation and prosperity of the people. In fact England owes them a debt, which, in spite of subsequent failures, should not be forgotten. But just when Christianity was gaining ground, there came a check, which seems to have been severely felt in most parts of the country, and to no small degree in the county of Bucks. 

Again and again in the ninth and tenth centuries, Wessex was ' harried' by the rough heathen Danes, and a general sense of unsettlement prevailed. These raids were specially directed against the monasteries, which they plundered of their wealth, often slaughtering the monks without mercy. In the north of England they quite swept away these centres of learning, and even in Wessex, when in later times King Alfred rescued it from their violence, he found it necessary to reconstruct the system of civilisation, and to revive the religious studies which had been brought to a standstill. 

Eventually the Danes, attracted by the appearance of the country, settled down amicably in Wessex among the Saxons, adopted their religion, their laws and customs, and intermarried with them. The county of Bucks largely recovered its normal prosperity under Earl Godwin in a peaceful forty years before the Norman Conquest. 

But there is another factor to be noticed, which besides monasticism had also far-reaching effects on the religious future of the country, and had already made itself widely felt. 

In 668, when most of England had become Christian, an Eastern monk Theodore, a native of Tarsus, St. Paul's birthplace, was chosen to fill the office of Archbishop of Canterbury. He was ordained and consecrated in North Italy, and with wonderful energy, although he was sixty-six years of age, he travelled through the greater part of our island, organising fresh monasteries and schools, and set himself to unite in one Church the Christians con-verted by the various isolated missions, and to make it a compact society with a definite government and a general synod. He largely increased the number of Dioceses, appointing to each a Bishop with a settled sphere of work. He also is credited with originating the parochial system, under which every Diocese was divided into parishes, in each of which a definite person (persona ecclesiæ, or parson) was to be placed, and to whom was committed the care of all the souls within the parish boundaries. It naturally took some time to effect this arrangement, but it is important as marking the real beginning of the national Church of England.

So it was that, some time between A.D. 902 and 925, when Wessex (2) was included in this measure, Eton found itself constituted a parish, containing 786 acres (3) separated from its neighbours by well-defined landmarks, and for the present with the rest of the county under a Bishop whose seat was at Dorchester-on-Thames (4). 

There are as yet no Episcopal registers which will help us to determine what provision had been made for the spiritual needs of the people. It is not till we approach nearer the Norman Conquest that we have any certain information to guide us. 

There is, however, evidence of another kind which seems to indicate that some time before this the Church had established a firm hold on the parish. 

There appear, as we have already noticed, to have been two separate manors within the parish boundaries, the township of Eton and the Manor of Eton cum Stockdales and Colenorton as it is now called, and wherever such townships or Manors existed, it was an understood thing that the thegn or Lord of the Manor should make proper provision for the spiritual welfare of the people on his estate. In most cases the responsibility was accepted with astonishing generosity, and the thegn either voluntarily gave a tenth part of the produce of his land to some monastery willing to supply clergy, or constituted himself patron of the living by endowing it with this tithe, as a perpetual charge on his estate, and often in addition he surrendered certain fields, which henceforth became Church property. 

That some such provision was made in Eton may almost be taken for granted. 

It appears from the Domesday Survey that the previous holder of the Manor of Eton was Queen Eadgyth, the wife of Edward the Confessor and daughter of the famous Earl Godwin who was the leading nobleman in the Kingdom of Wessex. With her high character (5) and well-known piety and her devotion to good works, it is  hardly possible to conceive that she would have allowed her tenants in Eton to lack the spiritual care which was held so necessary a part of the Christian religion.

At the same time, no positive proof is forthcoming, till we learn that Walter, of the family of Other, who succeeded the Queen on the Manor, held the advowson or patronage of Eton and Ortone (Horton) as well as that of Burnham. 

At least, then, about this time there was a priest in charge of the parish, and in all probability there was a Parish Church of some sort and a parsonage house as well. 

Where the earliest Church stood, we can only roughly conjecture. There is a local tradition that it stood in King's Stable Street on ground occupied by a malthouse which was pulled down in the middle of the nineteenth century, and tradition further asserts that there was once a vicarage house on the site of 33 King's Stable Street, close to the river. Seeing that in those days nearly all the Churches were planted on the river bank as the most accessible highway, and that Edward the Confessor had himself chosen such a site for Old Windsor Church, these seem to be probable traditions. At the same time there are strong grounds for believing that, at least in later days, the position of the Church must have been changed and a new and more substantial building erected on a more convenient site. Professor Willis gives good reasons for supposing that the Parish Church, when the founding of the College was contemplated, was situated in the Churchyard to the south of the present College Chapel. 

The next available information as to the spiritual care of the parish is of later date. 

Among the religious orders introduced into this country after the Norman Conquest was the Order of Canons Regular of St. Augustine. They took their name from that Augustine who was Bishop of Hippo in 395; their order was founded in 1061. When they came into England in the next century, they met with a warm welcome, and soon had as many as 170 houses or centres of work. 

They were known as the Black Canons, from wearing long black cassocks and black hoods. Unlike the monks, who were close shaved, these Canons wore beards, and caps or birettas instead of cowls. One of their most famous houses was planted at Merton in Surrey and known as the Priory and Convent of Merton. This Priory for many years to come had much to do with the religious life of Eton. 

The Black Canons seem to have served the parish of Eton as well as the parishes of Hupeton (Upton), Taplow, Colnbrook, Wexham, Horton and Hitcham. Their services would generally, as mentioned above, be invited by the Lord of the Manor, or, to relieve himself of all responsibility, he would hand over to the Priory the advowson of the living, together with the tithes, the glebe, and offerings for the maintenance of the parish priest. This appears to have been the case at Eton. 

We learn from the Records of Merton Priory that the Prior had become possessed of a messuage in Burgagio (6) de Eaton' with an acre of land called Sudmed (South Meadow) and a croft called Chelvescroft (? Chalvey) near ‘ the ville of Eton.' This is mentioned in a lease (7) of this land made in 1198 to Robert son of Hugo de Boveney. It seems also that the Church in Eton, in addition to the tithes previously secured, was possessed of thirty acres of arable land and six acres of pasture land. These were rented in whole or in part by one Ralph Cajun and the rent was paid to the Prior of Merton. 

About the same time the Priory increased their property in Eton and acquired a field called Bullokeslok (Bullock's lock) with rights of fishery and four eyots appertaining, and land which now is known as the Playing Fields. 

In the Merton Records of June 11, 1212, mention is made of a Commission held at Wexham Church to assess the value of the Vicarage of Upton, and among those appointed to serve on the Commission are the priests of Eton, Wexham and Wyrardisbury (Wraysbury), and here occurs the first mention by name of the priest in charge of the parish. He is entered as Richard de Eton. No titles are given in this record, so that we are left in the dark, as to whether Richard was Vicar or only a priest removable at the will of the Prior. 

There are however certain side lights which may help us in a small degree, and at least are of interest. 

We learn that where patrons of Benefices had handed over advowsons and Church property to religious communities, the monks obtained licence to be perpetual Incumbents of these Churches, without applying to the Bishop for institution or induction. This accounts for the absence of any records of institutions to such parishes in the early Diocesan Registers. But it is also clear that by this period corruptions were creeping in, and monastic bodies were often in the habit of diverting the parish endowments they received to other purposes, and con-tented themselves with providing very scantily for the needs of the parish. Often they left the parish without a resident priest and kept up the services and other duties by the occasional visits of one of their brethren. Naturally parishes suffered, and the fabrics of the Churches too. It seems that the Black or Austin Canons were among the chief offenders in this way. 

Now it so happens that, just at this time with which we are concerned, there were three successive Bishops of Lincoln who set their faces firmly against this palpable abuse: William of Blois 1203, Hugh of Wells 1209, and Grosseteste 1236. All three were active in enforcing on these communities the settlement in all their parishes of a resident Vicar with a small but proportionate share of the parish endowments (8). The second of these Bishops established more than three hundred Vicarages in his Diocese. A list of them is still in existence (9), in which appear both the Chalfonts, Hedsor, Stoke Poges and Upton, and there is a mention of Eiton,' but it cannot be claimed as the Eton in which we are interested. It is most likely the place of the same name in Bedfordshire, which several topographers (10) have con-fused with Eton. Whether, under one or other of the above-named Bishops, Eton in those days was constituted a Vicarage, must remain an open question. We only know that after some few years, as we shall see presently (11), the patronage passed from the Priory into private hands, and the Incumbent is thenceforth designated Rector. 

OLD DAYS OF ETON PARISH by The Rev. John Shephard, M.A. was published in 1908 by Spottiswoode and Co Ltd. The text is has been copied from the original book that is now out of copyright.


1 Dorchester in Oxfordshire, the parent See of the Dioceses of Winchester, Lincoln and Oxford. 

2 See Bp. Stubbs, Constitutional History. 

3 In 1839 estimated at 783 acres 2 roods 11 perches. 

4 In consequence of the Danish occupation the Bishop of Lincoln removed his See to Dorchester for some years. In 1074 we find the Bishop again settled in Lincoln. 

5 The Queen was married in 1043 and died in 1075. A Latin verse of the day contrasts her with her rough father : " Sicut spina rosam, genuit Godwinus Egitham." 

(Like a thorn rose, Godwin begat Egitha.)

6 If a settlement was defined by a mound and a ditch instead of a 'tun' or quick-set hedge, it was called a 'burh,' whence come the forms borough, burgh and bury. Ransome, Hist. of England, P. 43

7 Heale's Merton, P. 54. 

8 The creation of Vicarages, as distinct from Rectories, seems to date from this period. 

9 Liber Antiquus, Lincoln Registry, translated by A. Gibbons. 

10 e.g. Lipscomb frequently in his valuable book on Buckinghamshire. The Eiton in Bedfordshire is now known as Eaton Socon. 

11 Chapter IV. 

Sunday 21 November 2021

O. A. BROWNE - XXX Corps - Eighth Army

Omar Alfred Browne (Lance Corporal No. 6912447) - 2nd Battalion The Rifle Brigade - 7th Armoured Division - XXX Corps - Eighth Army

At the time Omar was born, on February 26th 1916, his father Alfred was serving on the Western Front with 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. In fact Alfred was destined to be killed the following year and it is unlikely that he ever saw his baby son. When he had married Esther they made their home in Violet Villas, Boveney Newtown. He was killed on July 31st 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium and left a widow with an infant daughter named Hetty and baby Omar. Esther married again and as Mrs Wicks had another daughter, Gladys, in 1922.

Omar attended the Eton Wick Infant School when he was five, and on April 10th 1923 he registered for school at Eton Porny. Because his father had been a professional soldier Mrs Wicks decided he should complete his education at an army school. He left Eton Porny on January 21st 1927 and six days later, one month short of his 11th birthday, he went to the Duke of York School in Kent. It was here Omar joined the band, and it was here he developed a dislike of brass buttons. The band was to result him becoming an accomplished musician and able to play six different instruments. With his stated dislike of brass polishing he decided against a career in the Grenadiers, as his father had chosen, and instead joined the Rifle Brigade as a bandsman. On April 1st 1931, when he was 15 years three months, he reported to Devonport, as number 6912447, 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade.

Omar Browne (foreground, centre) in a funeral party at Halm between the Wars.

In September 1933 the Battalion sailed from England for Malta where they served for more than four years, until in December 1937 they embarked for Meerut in India. In 1939 they sailed to the Middle East, and as part of the 23rd Infantry Brigade served in Palestine and Trans Jordan. By this time Omar had grown from a, boy into a fine soldier, who loved many sports, including football, hockey, cricket and swimming. With the threatening upset of war the Battalion moved to the Egyptian frontier. Italy entered the war with Germany against the British, and with possessions in Libya, immediately struck east toward Egypt and the Suez Canal.

To counter these moves the British entered Libya, and the important harbour of Tobruk, situated along the strategic coast road, fell to Australian forces in January 1941. Cyrenaica fell to British troops, and Tripoli itself was threatened. With the rapid collapse of the Italian army the Germans dispatched strong armoured units under the command of Erwin Rommel, to halt the British advance. At this time a political decision was taken in London to send many of the much needed troops from the Middle East in support of Greece and Crete. The German drive to take Tobruk and ultimately the distant prize of Suez was sustained and very determined. The harbour garrison held out against the enemy although the Germans did become established in the desert and along the coast at distances as advanced as up to 70 miles east of Tobruk, effectively isolating the British garrison there other than by sea.

Omar was now in the Support Group, with the 7th Armoured Division, XXX Corps, of the Eighth Army, and as a bandsman was almost certainly serving as a stretcher bearer or other medical service assistant. On November 19th 1941 the 7th Armoured Division and Support Group struck north from the desert to take Sidi Rezegh, approximately 30 miles south east of Tobruk, while other Eighth Army units attacked Sollum and Bir el Gobi. Sidi Rezegh was captured a couple of days later but changed hands yet again the following day. Fighting was particularly fierce, involving tank battles and many casualties, as the Germans strove to take Tobruk and the British strove to relieve it. The 21st and 22nd November was perhaps the climax of the battle, when the XXX Corps was obliged to disengage, having lost two thirds of its armour.

Omar died in the Sidi Rezegh battle on November 21st 1941 at the age of 25 and is buried in the Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Libya, which is situated 15½ miles west of Tobruk and a few miles from Acroma. The cemetery contains 3,649 burials, including 10 soldiers whose graves could not be positively identified. The Knightsbridge War Cemetery was so named because a strategic point of the "box" desert defences in the area had been known as Knightsbridge. Graves and small battlefield burial places were concentrated at Knightsbridge after the war.

At the time of researching Omar (1995) the cemetery was not very accessible on account of strained diplomatic relations between our respective countries. Consequently a recent photo of the grave obtained through the C.W.G.C. looks tidy but lacking the customary beauty of plants.

Omar Browne was the only serviceman of W.W.II from Eton Wick whose father had been killed in the previous world conflict. Both were professional soldiers, and both are commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial. Omar also commemorated on the W.W.II plaque on the wall of the Village Hall. In each instance his name is spelt as Browne (with an "e"). His father, Alfred, is commemorated as Brown (without an "e") except at Eton where he Browne.

Omar Browne's page on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Monday 15 November 2021

Tough Assignment - 50 Years and Missionary Work

The mid 1930's was a period of change and increasing expenses.

These last two years had been very expensive ones for the chapel, for as well as the new Hall and all its attendant costs there had been a considerable increase in the ordinary expenses of running the chapel. The most crippling of these had been the quarterly quotas to the Circuit Funds which were first imposed in December 1933 at £8, and then increased to £10 per quarter a year and a half later. In 1935 the chapel was also redecorated throughout, both inside and out and there were several other new incidental expenses and increases. All of this meant that annual expenditure, and therefore income, doubled from 1933 to 1934, and then again, the following year. 

Annual expenditure stayed above £80 for the rest of the 1930s - a far cry from the 1920s average of a mere £13 per annum. The chapel keeper now had far more to do, and her salary had been substantially increased. The extension had brought other added expenses, such as water rates, increased insurance, and higher gas bills. More money was paid out to various funds, and small repairs to the chapel together with the necessary purchase of items of furniture and fittings were frequently recorded in the account book. Never again was income or expenditure to revert to the low figures of the pre-extension years, and at first sight it comes as a surprise to find the chapel ceasing to collect pew rents in 1938. Such rents had long been recognised as a regular source of income, but the idea was now considered old fashioned and undemocratic. Financially they were no great loss for they brought in less than £2 per year, and the 'envelope system' of voluntary contributions which was introduced a few years later proved more satisfactory. 

In 1936 the chapel was fifty years old and the anniversary was celebrated with a summer garden fete (held at Bryanston, the home of Mr and Mrs Chew) a jubilee service and an evening lecture. The Rev. Dr. Dinsdale Young of Central Hall, Westminster, was the chief speaker and he attracted members and ministers from the whole Circuit as well as a crowd of other people. He was a large man in stature and personality and one of the most well known and loved Methodist preachers. More than this he was recognised nationally as a superb speaker in an era that still set great store by such talent. It was both an honour and a delight that he was willing to preach at Eton Wick. 

The chapel was certainly showing no loss of vigour. Small it might be, but its members were ready, willing and able to serve their Lord and the wider community of the Circuit and neighbourhood. The first of the new groups or organisations which appears to have been started about this time was Christian Endeavour. It had been formed about 1929 and consisted of some dozen young people who met on a weekday evening for bible study, prayer, discussion and talks given by their own members.

Members of the group, were expected to be active Christians, willing to help at services and to prepare themselves for becoming local preachers. It was an inter-denominational organisation and some of them did preach at various churches in the district, Baptist and Congregational as well as Methodist. 

In the end, although several of the young men and women served the chapel in many capacities, only one of them became a local preacher. This was Bill Templeman, an ICI scientist (described in 'The Times' as one of the makers of the 20th century) who found Christianity at Eton Wick and also a wife in Mabel (the eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Chew). He later became Circuit Steward of the Windsor and Maidenhead Society. 

Missionary work had almost certainly long been a concern of the chapel, but it is not until the 1930s that we have any details of the work, by which time it would seem to have become a more organised activity. Since the mid-thirties there have always been secretaries concerned with the activities and collections made for Home Mission, Overseas Missions and the Junior Missionary Association (JMA). The first recorded officials were Miss Winifred Jewell (Overseas Missions, 1934), Miss Sylvia Chew (JMA 1934) and Mr Arthur Morris (Home Missions 1936). The Sisterhood was still functioning and was now under the presidency of Mrs Chew. Its programme was changing as the work sessions and readings were replaced by talks given by invited speakers. Class meetings also continued, though there appears to have been only one class at this time. Mrs Chew was the leader, assisted by Arthur Morris in 1935 and Harry Cook from the year after. In 1936 Mr Morris distributed tracts to 250 houses in the local area hoping thereby to achieve some small measure of good influence. There was also a Women's Work Committee and secretaries to the chapel's prayer union, Bible reading group and Temperance and Social Welfare. With so small a chapel membership, those that were active and willing served in many capacities! 

Perhaps the most vital work of the chapel, took place in the Sunday School. Classes were held twice each Sunday and the numbers of scholars stayed comfortably in the sixties with nine or ten teachers and sometimes two or three helpers as well. The surviving minute book of the teachers' meetings begins in 1939 when there were four classes for boys, five for girls and two for the infants. But perhaps the most fascinating details given in the minutes are those concerning prizes. It was resolved that year that scholars making: 

100 or more attendances should receive prizes valued at 1s 3d (6½p)

90 to 99 attendances should receive at prizes 1s valued  (5p) 

75 to 89 attendances should receive at prizes 9d valued (4½p) 

60 to 74 attendances should receive at prizes 6d valued (2½p) 

Every child who sat the scripture examination was to receive an extra 6d and there was to be a special prize for the scholar with the highest marks, and another for the boy or girl who had the highest attendance record. That summer, the last before the war, the Sunday School outing was to Hayling Island. Tea was taken at the Grotto Café and 1,000 half price tickets for amusements were purchased from Butlins!

Thursday 11 November 2021

Eton Wick Remembers The Fallen

East Face

Henry Ashman  1993  21/08/1915  Gallipoli
Cyril Ashman  746  26/10/1917  Passchendaele
George Baldwin  16671  24/04/1918  Amiens 
George Bolton  7993  24/09/1915  Loos
Alfred Brown  11811  31/07/1917  Ypres
Ernest Brown  T/202287  24/10/1917  Passchendaele
Angus Bruce  19160   27/03/1918  Arras
Thomas Bryant  9813  11/11/1914  Ypres
Fredrick Buckland  G/3615  17/12/1914  illness
Arthur Bunce  39794  17/07/1917  Ypres
Albert Caesar  12472  01/09/1914  Villers

Omar Brown  6912447  21/11/1941  Libya
Clifford Chew  116439  24/3/1945   Luxembourg
William Farmer  1603478  10/4/1944  United Kingdom

North Face

Frank Church  3760  19/07/1916  Somme
John Clark  630936  23/04/1917  Roeux
Fred Colbourn  185017  31/10/1918  illness
Horace Dobson  32908  15/07/1918  illness
Charles Godwin  2556  08/06/1918  Arras
Charles Hammerton  5335  09/10/1916  Somme
Henry Hill  K/18991  03/09/1917  Chatham air raid
Robert Hobrough  40782  30/09/1917  Passchendaele
Arthur Iremonger  7937  25/12/1915  Loos
Ernest Jordan  33180  20/08/1916  Iraq
Charles Miles  K/25314  09/07/1917  HMS Vanguard
Harry Quarterman  7570  30/10/1918  Asfold POW camp

John Flint  T/I27600  19/5/1943  Italy
William George  1529768  14/11/1942  Egypt
Richard Hood  5385945  13/5/1944  Italy
Thomas A McMurray  105151  17/6/1940  France

West Face

Henry Moss  M2/097873  21/10/1918  Roisel
James Newell  1232  11/04/1917  Arras
Joseph Newell  9534  24/05/1917  Turkey POW Camp
Walter Payne  12050  12/03/1916  Ploegsteert Woods
George Percy  34891  15/04/1918  Outtersteene Ridge
Herbert Pithers  24307  28/02/1917  Ancre
Arthur Richardson  10060  02/05/1915  Gallipoli
Joseph Springford  94017  15/02/1918  Passchendaele
Isaac Springford  197731  02/07/1918  Orpington
Albert Stallwood  4176  24/10/1918  Wassigny
Peter Knight  30958  26/10/1915  Aegean Sea

William Prior  5434  22/8/1947  England
William Pates  1152080  15/1/1943  France
Albert Prior  7689948  12/11/1943  Burma
George Prior  14603226  13/12/1947  England

Wreaths laid on the Memorial 14th November 2021
Photograph courtesy of Councillor Samantha Rayner

This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  

and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Monday 8 November 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - George Batt, Verger


George Batt, Verger 

In 1993, to mark 60 years of faithful service to the village and St John's Church, George received a certificate from Neville Thorman, secretary of the Churchyard Fund Committee. George has served as choirboy and choirman, Sidesman, Church Warden, and has held the post of Verger for many years. The occasion was the 20th anniversary of the Churchyard Fund Committee. 

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

Monday 1 November 2021

Eton Wick Youth Club 75th Anniversary

The Former Youth Club Member who attended the 75th anniversary celebration. 

A report by Helen Branscombe-Davies

Thank you to all the past members of Eton Wick Youth Club who came along to the 75th Anniversary event yesterday evening at the Village Hall.

Dorothea Vaughan
Almost to the day, 75 years ago, our Youth Club was formed in the shadow of World War 2. It was revolutionary in at least two ways. Firstly, it was a mixed club with both sexes replacing the young men only club established pre-war by village benefactor Toddy Vaughan. Secondly, the age limit was set at 21 which meant conscripted men were eligible. The Youth Club was established with Dorothea Vaughan, Toddy's widow, as President so Eton Wick was an early supporter of gender equality.

Our Youth Club has since had an illustrious history with well over 1,000 young villagers being members over the 75 years and all based at our ancestral home, the Eton Wick Village Hall.

Today, in the shadow of the pandemic, youth clubs face different challenges in a different world. After 75 years the Eton Wick Youth Club is currently dormant with possibilities for a future relaunch being assessed. Last night we acknowledged the past and shared fond memories of the youth club throughout the decades. We look forward to embracing the future which could be as part of a Community Hub in our Village with activities supporting a great variety of age and interest groups.

We realised too late into the evening that we should have organised a register of attendees with names and dates of Youth Club attendance. If you are able to help us, put together this information then please leave a message in the comments box at the end of this article, thanks.

Several past Youth Club members brought photographs of activities that they remember and are shared with this article. The cups and trophies will be cleaned, and I will post a photo when they are all restored.

EWYC - Adelphi Slough -1956

May 1957
Barrie Watts as May Queen with
Alan Quartherman and Barry Hood as his
attendants.Tony Clark as the Mayoress.

May 1957

Youth Club Football Team - Undated

Youth Club Camps

EWYC Camp1956

EWYC Camp1957

EWYC Camp1959

EYWC Zennor Arms 1959

EWYC Camp year unknown

EWYC Camp year unknown


Lands End 5th August 1966

"Socially in my green years I tried to serve youth, and in my grey years, the seniors. In the late 1940s I developed an interest in village youth football that led me to being the Youth Club Leader from 1951 to 1961 and then the Chairman. This resulted in 'Wicko' Carnivals 1967-81 initially to raise Youth Club funds for a building project."

Monday 25 October 2021

Old Days of Eton Parish - Eton Before and After the Norman Conquest


In all the books published about Eton, the great College and School naturally form the absorbing centre of at-traction. Very little attention has been paid to the history of Eton itself, and yet there is much about it which many would like to know. It would be interesting to trace its first beginnings, as a town and parish; to discover what people first settled there, what their occupation was, and what brought them there.

It would be a matter of interest, to find out whether the place was inhabited at all in the days of the ancient Britons, or only in the days of the Anglo-Saxons or the Normans; whether the first settlers were Christians; and, if so, what spiritual provision was made for them.

But we have to curb our curiosity. The materials to help us to any complete knowledge are somewhat scanty and uncertain. Eton seems to have no Roman or British remains, nor any buildings old enough to throw light on those very remote times. Buckinghamshire is not like some counties, fortunate in possessing the records of ancient chroniclers.

Until about the year 1030, no written records are forthcoming, and for many years later only sundry scraps of information are available.

But something may be learnt from the study of names and existing customs; enough at any rate to form strong circumstantial evidence.

First, as regards names, there is hardly any trace of Danish influence in this corner of the county, but the neighbourhood abounds in names with the well-known Saxon termination of 'ham' or 'home.' Burnham, Farnham, Wexham, Cippenham and many others will at once occur to our readers. Another common sign of Saxon settlement is the termination ' ton,' as in Upton, Horton, Cole Norton, and Eton itself. We shall see presently how this throws light on its early history.

Field Map by H. Walker 1839

Then within the limits of the parish itself, many of the old names of the fields bear distinct witness to Saxon origin. A glance at the map of Eton Parish reveals several: 'shot' (e.g. two acre shot), butts' (e.g. wheat butts), Mill ‘furlong' or furrow long, ‘ward,’ ‘croft,' even 'acre' itself, are Saxon words; and what we still call 'eyots' and ‘weirs' were Saxon terms too, though ‘weir' had then a wider significance, and was used also for wattled baskets and other such contrivances for catching fish.

Further we find the same evidence accorded by certain institutions and customs, which, although slightly modified and altered in name under Norman rule, were undoubtedly Saxon, and were firmly established before either Danes or Normans appeared.

There are three such in Eton. The first of these is the existence of Common lands, of which Long Common and Little Common are samples. These commons take us back to the times of the earliest settlers, when, besides the wooden hut and the enclosed plot of ground (described as a 'close,' see map for many examples) which each settler cultivated as his private holding, there were certain pasture lands or woods which the community or tribe shared together, and into which they could turn their cattle or pigs under certain agreed conditions.

But apart from these Common lands, which of course exist in most parts of England, much of the meadow and cultivated land in Eton is open and unenclosed, and subject to what are known as Lammas rights.

These rights entitle householders, according to their rate, to graze so many head of cattle on these fields from the 1st of August to the 31st of October.

This too is an institution which has come down from the seventh century. The name Lammas ' has its origin in the first day of the grazing season, viz. Lammas Day. It is derived from Hlaf-masse, Loaf-mass, or Bread-feast. The day was observed in Saxon times as a day of thanksgiving for the first fruits of the harvest; a loaf made of the new corn was offered at the Mass, as even in those days the Holy Eucharist was popularly called.

These Lammas rights have been jealously guarded by the inhabitants both in ancient and modern times. But for these, much of the open land in Eton would long ago have been in the hands of speculating builders and covered with bricks and mortar.

It is said, by good authorities, that the open or Lammas meadows were generally in old days allotted to tenants in strips, ' butts ' or shots ' as they were called. Another glance at the map shows how this custom prevailed as regards both meadow and plough land, and how in several instances the old names are preserved. It is also interesting to know that to this day very many of these old divisions of the land are still in use, and parts of fields are leased as separate holdings, although there is no visible boundary mark.

There is also a third institution closely connected with the two already mentioned, namely the Manorial system.

It is doubtless the case that the term ' Manor,' as well as most of the quaint old-world names connected with it, are of Norman invention, and the whole Manorial system with its Courts was developed somewhat under Norman rule but the best historians seem agreed that the system itself existed in substance in Saxon times and is hardly distinguishable from it. The lord in those days was called 'thegn' or 'thane,' the 'manor' was then the 'ham' or 'tun' (the township), or in Latin villata 'rendered in French ville.'

Many ratepayers, in response to a formal summons, attended a Court Leet, or General Court Baron, and a View of Frankpledge,' held by the Lord of the Manor or his steward in the dining-room of the Manor House of Eton; but it is as likely as not, that, in obeying this now very occasional summons, they have little realised that they were taking part in proceedings which were going on a thousand years ago, and some four or five hundred years before the College was founded.

Nowadays the Court and its jurors are only concerned with such small matters as the swearing in a new Bailiff or appointing someone to the office of Hayward, or possibly the amending some by-law or fining some offender for the breach of the same, but in early days this Court was of real importance to the whole village community. It was part of their system of local government.

The assembled freemen or land-holders met under their thegn or reeve, and determined whether some would-be settler should be admitted to the privileges of the Manor or Township, and what strip of land should be allotted as his holding. The jurors had to witness every surrender of land and every new tenancy, and to see that the terms were duly carried out. They were sureties responsible for the general good conduct of all on the Manor and for the good order kept. Some of what we now call petty police cases were brought before the Court, and the local Court assisted the Court of the Hundred and the Shire Court in enforcing their regulations.

Many other matters also were managed by the Court, as e.g. the keeping up of fences and dykes, the arrangement of crops, etc., to be planted in particular fields.

But what concerns us now, is that the existence of these three institutions is circumstantial evidence for there having been a settled population in Eton in Anglo-Saxon times. Moreover, the fact that a large portion of the land held by the Lord of the Manor is subject to Lammas rights, and that his Court is still charged with the due maintenance of both Lammas and Common rights, seems to show that these rights were fully established in the parish before Norman days and were accepted as part of the territorial system which prevailed throughout Wessex.

In other words, we may safely infer that Eton begins its history somewhere far back between the seventh and tenth centuries. At any rate, long before the Conquest we may picture in the higher ground of the parish (perhaps near the Manor Farm, Eton Wick, or in Northfield near Cole Norton) a cluster of small homesteads, occupied by agricultural folk who lived for the most part a peace-able life, who ploughed with their oxen their own strips or plots of land, or at stated times worked on the land of their thegn. These would meet together in their little community to discuss and settle matters which concerned their common benefit, and, at long intervals, would be called to arms by their thegn to join in resisting the inroads of some marauding foe.

It may be conjectured that this colony was known as Cole Norton or North tun; 'town' or 'tun' in Anglo-Saxon being the name given to the enclosure or hedge which surrounded the homestead of the thegn and his dependents.

But what of the town of Eton itself? Old maps and engravings, as well as information which belongs to the time of the Foundation of the College, make it clear that the river and its tributaries present a very different appearance to what they did even in the fifteenth century. The main stream has considerably shifted its course. Several of the streams have been diverted, some have disappeared altogether. Going back still further, we may conjecture something of this sort. If we could have taken a bird's eye view of the southern corner of the parish nearest the river, or even if we could have looked down on it from the chalk hill on the Berkshire bank, which in later days was crowned with the Round Tower, we should have noticed several intersecting streams and a cluster of islands, and especially a stream of some width flowing out of Cuckoo Weir stream and passing along the lane  on the north side of South Meadow into Barns Pool, re-entering the main stream to the left of the College Eyot.

On the principal island thus formed, we may conjecture that one of the early warrior-chieftains chose a sited for his homestead which would command the river and be secure from sudden attack, while his retainers built their log huts or cottages round him, protected by his fenced enclosure or tun; and out of this small nucleus the ' town ' little by little grew.

In old documents Eton is very variably spelt. It most often appears as Eyton, sometimes as Eiton, in Domesday Book it is Ettone, and we sometimes find Etone or Eaton.

The first spelling suggests that the name properly signified the Island Town, or the Town on the Eyot, and that this name was in course of time extended to the rest of the parish.

When the parish first appears in the pages of chroniclers, it was in the division of Bucks which was known as the Hundred of Burnham, but it seems to have been afterwards, either wholly or in part, transferred to the Hundred of Stoke.

Most of the land in very early days was probably, like the country on the opposite bank of the Thames, thickly wooded, but by the time of the Domesday Survey, taken by the order of William the Conqueror in 1086, Eton already was a place with some resources and importance of its own.

The land had been largely cleared and was partly in pasture and partly cultivated, although there were still woods and copses large enough to feed 200 swine on mast and acorns. There were two water-mills valued at a rent of 20s. in the money of that day. One is supposed to have stood at Cuckoo Weir, and what is known as Deadman's Hole may have been caused by the washing of the mill-stream. The other mill stood in what is now the Playing Fields, perhaps near the gate which now opens on to the College Eyot. There were also large fisheries, yielding a rent of 1000 eels.

In the time of Edward the Confessor, 1050, there was an ancient Saxon Palace at Old Windsor (near the Priory). It was here that the royal family resided; hence the property acquired by the King in the neighbourhood. The Manor of Eton was one of such holdings. It belonged to his wife, Queen Eddid or Eadgyth, and on her death (1075) reverted to the Crown. A little later, the Conqueror granted it to Walter son of Other, who was appointed Warden of the Forest, and also was the first Governor or Constable of the Castle Keep, which was just then erected on half a hide of land in the Manor and Parish of Clewer, as a suitable military post to command the neighbourhood.

This Walter, who afterwards took the title of Baron Windsor, had on his Manor fifteen 'villeins,' tenants under their lord of strips or portions of land and working between them six plough teams, also four 'bordars' or cottagers, who held their cottages and gardens on condition of supplying the lord with poultry and eggs. He had besides attached to his land four servants or serfs. The two mills, some of the fisheries, and woodlands mentioned above, belonged to this Manor.

There was also a second Manor in this parish held of the King by Walter son of Pont; he had thirteen villeins, five bordars and seven servants, whose lands were not geldable, i.e. not subject to tax. He had two fisheries and 148 acres of pasture land.

In addition to some rent, these thegns had to aid in building forts and castles and maintaining bridges in their jurisdiction and to provide a certain number of men for the King's army.

The building of the Keep was followed by the building of some other parts of the Castle, and Henry I. is said to have held a Courts there for the first time in 1110.

What communication there was between Eton and the Castle, except by ferry, is uncertain. But, as for many years yet there was no town on the Berkshire side of the river, we may presume that the presence of the Court and garrison helped considerably to the development of the trade of Eton. At any rate it had become sufficiently large and prosperous for a weekly market, which was held on Mondays. For this, King John granted a charter to Roger de Cauz in 1204.

Of the two manors mentioned above, one only survives under the designation of the Manor of Eton cum Stockdales and Colenorton. From the titles of its Courts and their powers, it would seem to have been a Manor of consider-able importance in the neighbourhood. The other Manor is represented by what is now Crown land and by what was in later years acquired by the College.

OLD DAYS OF ETON PARISH by The Rev. John Shephard, M.A. was published in 1908 by Spottiswoode and Co Ltd. The text is has been copied from the original book that is now out of copyright.