Monday, 3 May 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - The Tough family

The Tough family at Bell Farm.

Charles Tough was manager of Council-owned Bell Farm. This photograph, taken around 1908, shows Charles and his wife Annie (both seated, facing camera). The other adults are believed to be Annie's sister (seated right), and Archibald Chew with Charles and Annie's niece Annie F Moore standing on the left. Archie Chew and Annie Moore married in 1910, and like the Toughs, were pillars of the Methodist Church in Eton Wick.

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

Monday, 26 April 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - Press Gang

The History Group meeting on the 3rd March 1998

Press Gangs and the Kings shilling!

A talk about Press Gangs presented by Dr. Judith Hunter

I believe the general picture of a Press Gang is that of a gang of seafarers storming around seaside towns, knocking chaps on the head and bundling them on board ship to act as crew; or for the 'luckier' ones, tricking them by slipping coins into the poor innocents' tankards of ale and then claiming that they had entered into a contract by accepting pay in advance - and off to sea they went. But no, it is far more complicated than that, as the Eton Wick History Group found out from Dr. Judith Hunter at their meeting on 4th March. 

Armed with information gleaned from the Admiralty Minute Books, the Public Records Office at Kew and various other sources, and prompted to investigate simply as a result of curiosity triggered by coming across a reference to a Press Gang in Reading, Dr. Hunter covered the history of the Press Gang in as far as the Seven Year War against Austria, France and Russia (1756-1763). Apparently in 1754, lust before the War began the number of men in the navy was just under 10,000 but by the end of the War they numbered approximately 82,000 - the majority of whom came from Merchant Navy ships. The Royal Navy ships would be stationed in the Channel and would send a gang, under a Lieutenant, to board inward-bound merchant ships and gather up the seaman, returning with them to the Royal Navy ships; sometimes fire would be exchanged but nevertheless the majority of sailors were impressed from the merchant ships and so could end up spending many years at sea unable to return home to far, and friends. The Royal Navy didn't train its sailors, it preferred that they came already experienced from being in the Merchant Service. Some of the coastal traders were issued with a certificate which protected them from being pressed into service; unless, of course, there was a 'hot press' which would be at a time of emergency when anyone could be taken - even from theft own homes - and a record shows that on a least one occasion the groom, best man and half the male guests from a Wedding Reception were taken; but once these impressed people had been checked over perhaps only a third of them would be retained as being sufficiently able-bodied to be of use. 

Almost every coastal village and town had its fishermen and so these areas were a natural source of manpower. A press gang, under the command of a Captain (on half-pay + £5 per week) would 'open a rendezvous' at a village and stay overnight, perhaps publicising the fact by hanging a flag outside, or employing a fife drummer. The Captain (who would probably lodge at a rather better class of Inn than that used for the rendezvous) would have two or three Lieutenants (each earning 5s.0d. per day plus 10s.0d. for acquiring each able seaman or 5s.0d. for an able-bodied landman) and these Lieutenants would be supervised and regulated by the Captain - hence he would be called a Regulating Captain. They would take seamen for preference, but they could also take land workers as well - if they looked suitably young and strong; and they would try encouraging people to join voluntarily, initially, tempting them with exciting stories of life at sea. and exotic ports of call, and the weekly ration of I lb. bread, I lb. port, 1/2 pint, peas and 1 gallon beer. 

The gangs operating under the Lieutenants were usually composed of local residents generally hired specifically for the purpose and who would be aware that they were less likely to be impressed themselves if they were part of the official press gang. The King and Government would offer a 'Royal Bounty' of £3 per able-bodied seaman, £2 for an ordinary seaman and f1 for a landman; some Mayors offered their own bounties and there is a record in Bristol of a wife receiving additional corporation bounty; so perhaps these bounties were passed on to the families of the seaman. It is hoped so because wives and families lost their breadwinner when their man was impressed and would have had to have applied to the Parish Officers for some small amount of money; soldiers' wives and children were on a starvation list. When things were warming up for the Seven Year War the Admiralty ordered that press warrants be issued to cover many towns, both coastal and inland, including Reading. There are records of the Mayor of Oxford asking that the Regulating Captain at Reading assist him by guarding five men who he had 'secured' at Oxford. Those taken were often gathered together in a gaol, or Bridewell. It is assumed that they were then made to walk to a port (London?) and if a tender was not available to take them to a ship, they would be gaoled again at the port until one was available. 

Once at sea, the impressed seamen could do quite well:. Their pay (paid out by the ship's captain) would come from the Admiralty and 'prize money' was paid out when an enemy ship was Captured 3/8 of the prize went to the Captain, 1/4 went to the Captain of the Marines, 1/8 went to the Lieutenants, and the crew and Marine 'other ranks' received 1/4 between them; and there is a record in 1762 of the capture of a Spanish frigate resulting in seamen receiving prize money of £485 each - although a more normal amount would be £10-20. Dr. Hunter read from copies of letters from Admirals and Captains dated around the mid-18th century and they made fascinating listening. Mr. Frank Bond thanked Dr. Hunter and her husband, Rip, for this very enlightening talk. 

The the following meeting held on 15th April 1998 and the topic was the "History of Local Bridges over Streams and River" - presented by John Denham. 

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 April 1998 edition.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Tough Assignment - A Chapel of Their Own 1886

At first Mrs. Annie Tough met with considerable opposition from the owner of the land; she was after all in no position to offer a fair price for a plot, however small. There were no rich patrons offering a hundred guineas or more as there had been when St John the Baptist's Church was built, and however dedicated the band of Methodists, they were few in numbers. We know the names of only a handful of them - John Moore, Ada Moore, John and Emma Lane Mr & Mrs Thomas Green and Henry Goodman. Annie's father had left Rotherhithe and bought land in Boveney New Town on which were built Snowdrop, Primrose and Shakspear Cottages. He and his family lived at Primrose Cottage. Annie's younger sister, Ada, already an adult woman, also came to live in the village. John Lane was a master builder who, after being widowed, had met and married a member of the Maidenhead Church and was thus brought to Primitive Methodism. Henry Goodman came from Dorney where his family had been prominent Primitive Methodists since the 1850s. No doubt these and other loyal workers supported Mrs Tough to find a site for the chapel, but it was she who finally wore down the resistance of James Ayres, the developer. As a businessman he was far less impressed by her ardent Christianity than her sheer persistence! At long last she 'obtained from him a conditional promise that if a certain gentleman effected a purchase of land that day she should have a site for a chapel.' The sale went through and he kept his word. 'I give it to you', he said, 'as a reward for your perseverance'. 

The stage was now set for the next great effort - raising the money to build the chapel. The land was a gift, though as Mr Ayres had refused to give it to anyone except Mrs Tough, it had first posed a problem, solved in the end by the property being invested in her as Trustee. The cost of the building was only to be about £300, not a great deal even in those days for a church, but a considerable amount for the Primitive Methodists of such a small community to find. But find it they did, and in a very short time there was sufficient money guaranteed for the work to begin. 

It was a proud moment that first Sunday in October 1886 when the chapel was at last officially opened. We can still see the building with its yellow bricks, porch, and arched windows, and its inscription 'Primitive Methodist Chapel 1886.' From Alma Road it looks very much as it did a hundred years ago. No doubt it was viewed with immense pride that day, but no records survive to tell us the details of the occasion. Imagination must paint the picture of the congregation crowded into the tiny chapel - Mrs Tough supported by members of the Moore family, John Lane, skilled tradesman and foreman with Henry Burfoot (who built the chapel), village and circuit members of the Methodist Church, as well as many other well wishers from the neighbourhood. 

 In spite of the rain the meeting held the next day attracted a good congregation. It was a circuit as well as chapel affair and Mr Lodge of Maidenhead acted as chairman. Addresses were given by church members from Maidenhead, Dorney and Slough as well as by John Lane of Eton Wick, who was the chapel treasurer and one of the eight trustees. This was a time for congratulations, a time for appraisal of successes achieved - and the work yet to be done. No doubt the speakers talked of the spiritual life of the chapel, but it was the more practical considerations that the local newspaper reported. over £130 had already been raised towards the building fund, but a further £145 was still required to clear the debt. 

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - April 1941 - Incendiary Bombs Fell On Eton Wick School.

German aircraft continued to fly over the district most nights throughout the months of April and May to raid the cities of Birmingham, Coventry, Leeds, Sheffield, and London.

Len Downs, now residing in Dorney, was serving with 273 Bty. H.A.C. A.A. equipped with 3.7" mobile guns, machine guns and searchlight and he recalled that the troop were frequently called to action whilst stationed on Dorney Common during this time. 

Whenever the guns were in action there was always a danger of injury and damage from falling shrapnel but sometimes no air raid alert sounded and with no warning the guns would commence firing. My experience of falling shrapnel was whilst using the public phone situated near the village hall, when the firing began and odd pieces that fell onto the road ricocheted hitting the phone box with a loud frightening bang. The intense gunfire rattled doors and windows, greenhouses and garden sheds also suffered from the explosions. At night, even if the guns did not fire, those living close by the camp were awakened from their sleep as commands of range, height and bearing were shouted to those manning the guns.”

(Joan Ballhatchet)

April 14th

Fortunately, the local schools were on holiday as bombs and incendiaries fell in the district. Two incendiary bombs fell on Eton Wick school, one falling on the roof whilst the other fell through into the infants’ room where a cupboard was set on fire doing slight damage.

“A number of incendiaries had dropped across the allotments below the school in Sheepcote Road. Searchlights were sweeping the sky in search of the enemy planes whose dull drone seemed to be continual. I rushed about the allotments piling soil on the burning bombs. Within minutes the flames would burn through the soil and the operation was repeated. It was on this night my father became Eton Wick's only air raid casualty. The school like most public buildings had a wall of sandbags about six feet high along the old buildings main wall. 

My father, an Air Raid Warden, was on duty near the school and could see the incendiaries burning inside the building. Realizing that the blaze had to be tackled immediately he climbed onto the protective wall of sandbags and using one of the bags broke the window to gain entry. He then climbed through to extinguish the fires. On getting through the broken glass, he cut his hand. After the fire was extinguished it was pointed out to him that all his effort to affect the entry was unnecessary as the school door was always left unlocked for just such an emergency."
(Frank Bond).

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

Saturday, 10 April 2021

HRH Prince Phillip 1921 - 2021 - A Unique Man


Prince Phillip at the official opening of the New Recreation Ground.

The Eton Wick History Group mourns the passing of HRH Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh. He visited the village on October 14th, 1952 to officially open the Stockdales Road Recreation Ground.

Gill Tarrant, the chairperson said:

“I remember the Duke’s visit and the opening ceremony very well. I was a pupil at Eton Porny School and was taken to Eton Wick in the Blue Bus.”

Peter Tarrant, a History Group committee member added that Prince Phillip spoke to him and Bill North, another village boy as they were in the front row.

HRH Prince Phillip has a unique place in the history of village and is remembered on this website with an article that includes a clip from the British Pathe newsreel of his visits to open 6 playing fields in Buckinghamshire that started at Eton Wick. He was President of the National Playing Fields Association from 1948 until 2013.

The Duke donated the Oak Tree that the History Group planted on Eton Great Common in celebration of the Queens Diamond Jubilee on June 5th, 2012.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - The Tarrant Family

The Tarrant family 

A Robert Tarrant and family first appear on local Parish Records in the mid-1700s. The appears to have had their roots in the west Berkshire/Hampshire/Dorset areas. This photograph, taken between 1900/05 shows seated, left to right: Robert's descendant James Tarrant, his wife Julia (nee Hawkins of Pigeon House Farm, Dorney) and George Lowman (landlord of the Three Horseshoes); and standing, left to right: son Alf Tarrant and wife Charlotte (née Bunce) who took on Little Common Farm, Percy Holden (proprietor of a gun shop near Windsor Bridge), daughter Rosie Tarrant (a teacher at Silchester House School, Taplow), an unidentified young man, daughter Fanny (taught at Eton Wick School, married name Woolhouse) and son Arthur (then of Manor Farm). Besides acquiring four farms, James was a warden at St John Baptist church.

Missing - the photograph is his son George Tarrant (Crown Farm and father of Reg) and daughter Minnie (married French, grandmother of French Brothers, Windsor The photo was taken in the garden of Saddocks Farm and is embossed 'Photographers Spearman, Eton Wick'.

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

Monday, 29 March 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - The Great fire of Windsor Castle

The History Group meeting on the 29th September 1999

The meeting started on a sombre note when Mr. Tony Cullum sadly informed the audience of the death of John Denham's wife, Elizabeth, and two other local residents; Bill Welford and John Frith. Elizabeth was a strong supporter of the local branch of the Women's Institute; John Frith was a professional photographer and used to manage Hills and Saunders; and Bill Welford,- well, Bill was always ready with a smile and a cheerful word. Our sincere sympathies go out to the bereaved. 

The Group was cheered to hear that a Millennium Grant of £4,200 had been awarded to complement the money the Group had already raised to fund the Millennium Book, with which good progress was being made. Mr. Cullum reminded the group that the 10th November meeting would comprise a social evening the with punch and food and a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the railways coming to Windsor; admittance for that evening would be £1.

Image of Windsor Castle scanned from the November 1999 Parish Magazine.

Mr. Cullum then welcomed Sheila and Patrick Rooney who were to talk about 'The Fires and Restoration of Windsor Castle'. We heard first that the origins of the present Castle went back to the 11th century and that there was mention of Windsor in the Domesday Book in 1086. This actually referred to the old Saxon Palace at what is now Old Windsor, but a timber fortress had been under construction on the mound at the present site since 1070; its rebuilding in stone took place during the 12th century. Henry Ill arranged for many improvements to the buildings including the construction of apartments fit for royalty; however, much of his work was lost in a fire in 1295. There are few records of early fires at the Castle; there was a fire in the Deanery in 1604; and what is referred to as "The Great Fire" in 1853 which occurred in the Prince of Wales' Tower. It was Easter and Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the Royal Family had just arrived on the Saturday evening for their Easter holiday; during the course of the evening one of the staff found his room full of smoke and smoke was seen issuing from behind panelling; fire brigades were sent for, including the London Fire Establishment. By 11.00 p.m. the fire was at its height and all the local brigades (including Eton) were in attendance, as were Scots Fusiliers and 2nd Life Guards. With the help of an abundant water supply, fortuitously designed and installed at the instructions of Prince Albert and from a source at Cranbourne. the fire was almost extinguished by 2.00 a.m. when the London Fire Brigade arrived, by train, with two powerful pumps. The Queen, who was eight and a half months pregnant with Leopold, then calmly went to bed; and by 4.00 a.m. the fire was completely out. Unfortunately, the royal food supply had gone too, in that the troops, when tired of fighting the fire, had repaired to the royal kitchen and eaten everything! The cause of the fire was not confirmed, but it may have been that the new gas-fired central heating system overheated a chimney and the surrounding timbers caught fire. There was much relief that the Royal Family had not been harmed in this fire and certainly no question of argument about the cost of restoration. More recent records list minor fires at the Castle: in 1971, a fire in the roof of the Brunswick Tower; in 1983, a fire in the Cloisters - caused by a magnifying glass setting fire to papers; and later in that year, a fire in the roof space of the King Henry VIII gateway.

This brought us to 20th November 1992 and the great fire which destroyed or greatly damaged the Prince of Wales' Tower, the Chester Tower and the Brunswick Tower, the State Dining Room, the Crimson and Green Drawing Rooms, the Private Chapel, the Grand Reception Room and St. George's Hall. It happened at a time when considerable renovation work was in progress, including rewiring and the installation of a new fire alarm system. Fortunately, because of this work many of the Castle's treasures and pictures had been removed for cleaning and so much was saved which would otherwise have been lost. Pictures from the Waterloo Chamber had been removed to the Queen's Private Chapel, where they were packed up to be restored. It was thought likely that the fire had stated in there; that a tungsten spotlight had inadvertently been left switched on and had come into contact with a curtain against which a picture was leaning, pushing the curtain back against the spotlight. The burning curtain would have fallen into combustible material on the floor, and the flames would soon have travelled along St. George's Hall and also towards the Brunswick Tower. 200 Firefighters attended from Berks, Bucks, Middlesex, Oxford and Surrey; 350 people took part in salvaging all the contents (and to you know that the order is that the first item to be rescued must be Henry VIII's armour - because if it go too hot it would be immovable! it is now on display in the Lantern Lobby); each work of art was listed and removed to an appropriate location. The troops laid metal roads over the lawns of the Quadrangle in case the heavy vehicles should crash through into cellars which run underneath. The 9 Fire Brigades' 36 pumps used 500,000 litres of water per minute from 19 internal hydrants and from the Thames; and from a high pressure pumping station at Romney Lock, specifically designed for this purpose (after a little difficulty in finding someone who knew how to switch it on). The restoration and refurbishment took five years and was completed on 20th November 1997 for the 50th Wedding Anniversary of The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

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 November 1999 edition.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Tough Assignment - Annie Moore - From The Iron Room to Planning a New Chapel.

Annie was much encouraged by the continuance of the Sunday School and the improved services at the Iron Room, but she was by no means satisfied with this and began holding meetings in her own home. This did not please the elders of the Congregational Church, but such classes were to Annie an essential feature of a Christian life, and she was as determined as ever for Eton Wick to one day have its own Primitive Methodist chapel. Many months passed and Annie began to get discouraged. Although she was very busy helping the families of the farm hands at Bell Farm and her efforts were appreciated, she seemed no nearer to leading any of them to Christ. Even the attendance at the Iron Room was dropping. She now approached the Congregational Church and asked permission to arrange for Methodist friends to hold mid-week services in the Iron Room chapel.

These were held and one Christmas Eve, Thomas Green, a carter at Bell Farm whom she had helped several times, decided to attend. This in itself was a remarkable event, for Thomas Green usually spent most of his free time, Sundays included, in the public house. It would seem that at last the 'bullying' by Annie had had an effect, and somehow - or as Annie would have said -through God, the words of the testament and hymns spoke to Thomas with so clear a message that he became a new man in Christ.

Annie learnt of this after the service as she and Thomas made their way back to Bell Farm for he still had work to do in the stables. She was determined to make certain that he remained true to his conversion and hurried over to his cottage and offered to help his wife and convert their cottage into a clean and bright home rather than a drunkard's hovel. Annie does not quite say so in her memoirs, but it seems likely that Mr and Mrs Green were her first real converts to Methodism in Eton Wick, and now very considerably heartened she decided to formally approach the Primitive Methodist Church for help. The time was ripe, for although there had been no land free for development in Eton Wick on which a chapel might be built, the situation was now changing. Land across the parish boundary had been bought by James Ayres, who soon proceeded to lay out the area in streets and building plots. By 1884 the first road and houses were under construction. Although an extension of Eton Wick, because the development lay within the adjacent parish, it became known as Boveney New Town with Alma Road the main street of this busy new community. There was now a possibility that land could be found for a chapel, and abundant new people to be brought within the fold.

When Mrs Tough came to the district Windsor was part of the Maidenhead Circuit, but in 1882 the Circuit was divided into two, Windsor, Bracknell, Winkfield Row, Chalvey and Slough becoming the Windsor Circuit, leaving Marlow, Maidenhead, Cookham Dean and Cox Green in the smaller Maidenhead Circuit. The Windsor Churches declined to embrace Eton Wick in their Circuit because all their available energies were directed towards the growing society at Sunningdale.

Mrs Tough, therefore, decided to approach the Primitive Methodists at Maidenhead. They were doing well. Their new chapel had opened in Queen Street in 1882 and membership was increasing. Hopes for the future were bright and under the Rev George Doe they were ready to face new challenges. Eton Wick was now missioned by the Maidenhead Church - preachers from that Circuit visited the village to hold Sunday services. The mid-week class became official and the newly formed society became part of the Maidenhead Circuit. Mrs Tough could now put new effort into finding a site for a chapel.

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history on this website.

Monday, 15 March 2021

The Eton Wick Newsletter - August 2008 - Church Report

The first edition of the Eton Wick Newsletter included reports from the three Churches serving the community in 2008.

St. Gilbert's Church, Eton Wick

(In the Parish of "Our Lady of Peace" Burnham)

It was in 1954 that a Father Dunstan (formerly a Torpedo Boat Coxwain!!) 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, construction 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, assisted by the Prior and Chapter from the community of Canons Regular at Datchet. St. Gilbert's was built at a cost of £16,000 on land which was purchased for £1,500.

During the 1990's St. Gilbert's came under the auspices of secular clergy; it was no longer to be served by Datchet, but by the Parish Priest based at 'Our Lady of Peace' at Burnham, and this arrangement has worked very satisfactorily. Attendance at St. Gilbert's Sunday morning Mass is flourishing. Parishioners are fortunate to be able to have Mass celebrated most Sundays by Father Brian Godden, who is ably assisted by a Deacon, Paul Lipscomb, and about once a month Mass is celebrated by our Parish Priest, Father Michael Turner. Father Michael kindly celebrates 'First Friday' Masses at 8.00pm on the first Friday of every month and, whenever possible, there are 7.30pm Masses on Holydays of Obligation.

A thriving youth club (called 'Charlie's Angels' after a former Parish Priest — Father Charles Napier) for children of from 5 to 12 years old meets on Friday evenings; the club run by a Lady Parishioner, Mrs Mary McCarthy, with an assistant; and a luncheon club on Tuesdays.

At the beginning of March the church was host to the Women's World Day of Prayer ecumenical service; the three Eton Wick churches take it in turns to host this annual event. Needless to say, Eton Wick's Catholic parishioners are very fond of their church, they look after it well; and they very much appreciate the arrangements made to enable services to continue to be held there.

Teresa Stanton

St John the Baptist Church 

Eton Wick

You would receive a very warm welcome at any of our services or activities. Our weekly service is at 11am and each month follows a similar pattern. On the 1st Sunday of the month we have a very child friendly family service. The 2nd and 4th are services of Holy Communion and the 3rd is a service of morning worship. Activities for children take place on these three Sundays. Once a month we have an informal evening service at Eton Church.

During the week we have various groups going on from a cinema group to groups that meet to discuss their Christian faith in people's homes. For pre-school children and their parents/carers Little Fishes meet each Wednesday in term time at the church from 10am -11.30am.and includes stories, songs as well as time to play.

Each Thursday 10am -12pm Gateway also takes place in the Church room. This is a time to meet for a cup of coffee and a chat and to make some new friends. The church is always open during Gateway if you want to spend some quiet time in there.

For any more information then please look on the notice board outside the church or on our website:

Rev Lucy Holt

Methodist Chapel

We extend a very warm welcome to everyone who comes to our Chapel as a member or simply as a visitor to one of our meetings and events.

We are a village chapel built over 100 years ago, at the height of Primitive Methodism, to serve the community and provide a focus for free worship other than that of the Roman and Anglican Churches who also operate in the village.

You can turn up at any of the meetings or services being held, everybody is welcome whatever their background or circumstances. If you eventually feel you would like to extend your commitment to the Chapel by becoming a member, then this can be arranged through our Minister who will be happy to explain the process involved.

We have a weekly notice sheet, plus a monthly newsletter which also tells of other events in the Windsor churches. We are linked beyond Windsor to other Methodist churches in Slough and Maidenhead to form the Thames Valley Circuit.

Two services are held each Sunday, at 10.30am and 6.30pm. We also have mid-week meetings which many people find are more relaxed ways of considering social and religious matters. Amongst these are a fortnightly Bible Study, a monthly 'Pie and Praise' evening, a weekly Thursday Fellowship Afternoon, a fortnightly Tuesday evening Ladies Club and a Wednesday Lunch Club. A Parent & Toddler Group meets weekly on our premises.

Several of our members operate a 'Community Care' service which transports people to the local surgeries and hospitals in Eton, Windsor, Slough and Ascot. This service is funded by voluntary contributions and a monthly 'Coffee Morning'.

Peter Morris 

This article was originally published in the Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village and is republished with the kind permission of the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee. Click here to go to the Collection page.

Monday, 8 March 2021

Photographic History of Eton Wick and Eton - Eton Cinema

The cinema was owned by Willis & Sons, cycle makers (located where Budgens are now, having previously been the location of Eton Garages). It was built before the First World War behind No. 53 High Street, Eton, and remained in business until the mid-1920s. The ticket price was 1d on a Saturday morning. 

The projectionist was Mr Carmen; his projector broke down frequently. For many years after the cinema closed, the building (above) was used as a furniture store, and later, as a meeting place for Christian Science gatherings. The new development on the left-hand side of Kingstable Street (below) replaced the old cinema building.

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

Monday, 1 March 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - Burnham Beeches

The 14'h April meeting commenced with congratulations to Mr and Mrs Pidgeon and Mr and Mrs Denham who were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversaries at about that time. (Mrs Denham, Mrs Lund and Mrs Olney gave a talk to the April Eton Wick WI meeting).

Newspaper cutting from the Windsor and Eton Express

The Group was then introduced to Dr Helen Read; she was to give them an insight into the history and management of Burnham Beeches. But how much could there be to learn about a bit of a wood? Suffice it to say that by the end of the evening the interest was such that the Group was left still wanting to hear even more. Apparently there have been trees on the Burnham Beeches site for hundreds of years; within the area there is an Iron Age hill fort which is a scheduled Ancient Monument. The land is referred to in 1086 in the Domesday Book with mention of 600 swine and wood for plough shares. There is evidence of a moat which dates from 1250 and within which probably stood a single dwelling with a well; there is a shallower outer ditch, and it is one of the best moated sites in the Southern region. The owner of the area in 1250 was a William Allard and from 1518 to 1812 it belonged to the Eyre family and was known then as the Common Wood of East Burnham — it consisted of well-spaced trees with grazing land underneath them. In 1812 it was sold to Lord Grenville of Dropmore and then in 1878 it came up for auction, advertised as "Land suitable to build a large country house on", but a Francis Heath who wanted to purchase it could not afford it (despite writing to Queen Victoria for assistance) and it was finally purchased in 1880 by the Corporation of London, under the Open Spaces Act of 1878, and the Corporation manages the site to this day. This original area was of 140 hectares and, subsequently, adjoining land was purchased by the Corporation until Burnham Beeches reached its present 218 hectares.

During all this time the land had been used for the supply of timber and for grazing animals, but the Corporation were very strict, and the local people were not allowed to use the Beeches for anything, whether grazing or cutting timber, without a licence — the locals got a bit fed up with this and on at least one occasion they threw the Head Keeper in the pond. But gradually the area became used for recreation and in Edwardian times was heavily advertised in London. Families would come out to enjoy the fresh air, take donkey rides and relax with refreshment at the tea rooms; they enjoyed having their photographs taken with interesting trees in the background — a particular favourite, which now no longer exists, was named the 'Elephant Tree' because of its huge and gnarled girth.

During World War li the whole of the Beeches was fenced off and used as a Reserve Depot and for Army vehicle repairs. The Army had a camp within the Beeches — on top of the Iron Age hill fort! The Group was told that at one point about 10,000 Army vehicles were hidden within the Beeches. One tank, in testing a new waterproofing system, disappeared into Swilly Pond; the waterproofing process worked perfectly and was later used on craft in the D-day landings.

The Group learnt about coppicing (cutting back at ground level) and pollarding (cutting back to higher up the tree so that cattle, sheep etc. cannot get at the new shoots). Pollarding the beech trees prolongs their maximum life, which would normally be 250 years, to over 450 years; it also gives the trees their gnarled and lumpy appearance which makes an ideal habitat for small creatures. In the 17th Century the Beeches contained about 3,000 pollarded trees: in 1990 there were just 530 — a cause for concern? There were strict seasons for carrying out pollarding, even in 1523 when it was written: "Let him begin at nethermost bough first and not when the wind in North or East." We learnt that if you cut all the branches off a beech tree it will die and it must also have some light; the fungus you see on trees actually eats away at the dead wood in the middle of the tree — hollow trees can survive very well. There is an extremely rare moss which is found on only 20 trees in Britain and 6 of those trees are in the Beeches. There are bats and there are thousands of beetle and fly species.

Dr Read told us so much more, which we lack the space here to record. Except perhaps to mention that when walking in the Beeches these days you should watch out for film crews (a very popular location) and artists, and look out for the animals: there are 2 Exmoor ponies, 3 British White cows, 10 Jacob sheep, 2 Berkshire pigs and copious Keepers. Lois Parker thanked Dr Read profusely and we all hope she will come back and talk to us again.

The speaker at the following meeting, on 26th May, was Mr Tony Cullum and the topic 'THE CHANGING FACE OF ETON AS VIEWED THROUGH THE LATE MARK BELL'S SLIDES'.

Dr. Read's paper on Burnham Beeches

Monday, 22 February 2021

Tough Assignment - Annie Moore - Arrives in Eton Wick

Mrs Frances Annie Tough
When Annie Tough came to the village in 1877 almost every family had some contact with the Church, be it Congregational or Church of England. Yet according to her biography published in the 'Christian Messenger' of 1903, 'she was impressed by the godlessness of the young people in the village' and spent part of her first Sunday in the village distributing tracts. Her memoirs confirm the truth of this but bring to light more detail of the mood and circumstances in which the events occurred. Disappointed to find there was no non-conformist service which she could attend that first Sunday morning, she did indeed 'set forth, armed with a bundle of tracts' to distribute throughout the village. Much to her surprise on the following day, she found herself the topic of conversation but, as she confessed in her memoirs, she did not regret the morning's work for it gave the people in the village an 'insight into what kind of person had come to live amongst them' and herself 'a footing in the place'.

Even so she keenly felt the loss of fellowship with her own Church and people. As soon as she could she joined the Primitive Methodist Society at Windsor but found the two mile journey too great to allow her to attend more than once each Sunday. She was made welcome by the Church of England but, of course, as she explained politely to the clergyman, her own Methodist faith meant she strongly opposed the doctrine of his church.

Instead she attended the services in the Iron Room, though she found them dull and uninspiring. The congregation was small and none of those who went to the services were actually members of the Congregational Church. As she wrote in her memoirs 'Conversions were an unheard of thing'.

To suggest, as the author of her biography does, that Annie Tough filled a Christian vacuum in the village is nonsense and belittles her achievements, but there is no doubt that her faith made an impact on the village, and in her own words 'got her into a little difficulty'. Seeing 'about 20 big lads and girls romping on the Common', one Sabbath afternoon she 'seated herself on a fallen tree', and 'got into conversation with several of them'. Before 'long, the others had gathered round, and she began to talk to them of Jesus, some listened attentively, others jeered, and ridiculed. She sang several hymns to them and left'. A report of this small incident reached the ears of the Congregational Church at Slough, which now had oversight on the Eton Wick Iron Room chapel. The church elders were told that she was trying to start a Primitive Methodist Society in the village, and in their indignation at her supposed effrontery actually asked her to a meeting to answer for her behaviour. Knowing nothing of the purpose of the meeting until she arrived, Annie could only quietly explain what had occurred - and then receive their sincere apologies. Annie herself was more than a little indignant at having been called into question in this manner, and now, if not before, she was firmly resolved that 'by the help of God.. she would not rest until a Primitive Methodist Cause was gained' in Eton Wick, where she could labour according to the dictates of her own conscience'.

She set about trying to rent a place to use for worship, but met with no success, and instead turned her attention to improving the Congregational meetings. Conditions there had begun to improve. Services were by now being held in the morning as well as afternoon, and she eventually had the courage to suggest that children's services should also be held each Sunday for she felt that little was being done for the children of the village. Her suggestion was favourably considered and a 'good brother, who was not a member anywhere, but attended both Church and Chapel, offered to conduct the services "if Mrs Tough would assist". The little Sunday School was an instant success, drawing a great number of children to it, even though many of them must have already attended the Church of England services and Sunday School. Indeed it was so successful that it incurred the displeasure of the village schoolmistress and the curate.

The children were questioned at day school on Monday morning and given detentions, and eventually the curate wrote to Mrs Tough:

'Dear Mrs Tough,

I have heard that you have been holding a Sunday School in your chapel for sometime past, and that our children are in the habit of attending it. I shall be most obliged to you if you will not encourage them to do so, as I have forbidden them to attend, as I wish them to attend our Church Sunday School only, as both they and their parents are members of our Church, and as such ought not to attend Chapel Sunday School which is entirely different in its teachings. I address my letter to you as the children tell me you are, as it were the Superintendent of the Sunday School. Hoping you Will understand my meaning and take it in good part.

I remain, Yours faithfully, W.W. Keating'

It is not too difficult to understand why the Rev Keating should take this stand. The Church of England in Eton had only just become established on an independent footing and he was the first of the curates to have a special oversight on the village. He was also quite young, and perhaps as fervent a Christian as Mrs Tough. She, however, was equally determined in her vocation and as tough by nature as by name. The ensuing correspondence, which was taken up by local and national newspapers, did little good for the Eton church, but no doubt a lot for Annie and the Christian cause of Methodism.

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history on this website.

Friday, 19 February 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - February 1941

Wednesday February 19th

During the night the Germans carried out the first of three consecutive raids on the city of Swansea and throughout the night the local anti-aircraft sites engaged any stray bomber that came within their range. About 9pm an enemy bomber evading the gunfire dropped bombs on Windsor causing damage and casualties at Gardeners Cottages and Duke Street. A family from Vansittart Road sitting at supper together with an Air Raid Warden died in this attack.

The ever-mounting demand from Eton Wick residents for air raid shelters in the village had met with some visible success. Blast walls at the village hall to give protection for the L.C.C. school children had been completed and air raid shelters for the village were nearing completion. Fifty years on some older residents had fond memories of the shelter in Common Road, near the Greyhound public house, as being a good place to do one’s courting. Design, construction, and location of brick-built surface shelters had to comply to certain specifications. Upon inspection a number of surface shelters built in Eton were condemned by the Ministry for having been built with lime mortar; it fell upon the contractors to rebuild them at their own expense to the required standard.

This is a report that appeared in the Daily Telegraph about the air raids that hit London and Swansea on February 19th 1941.


London and Swansea were the main targets of German air attack.

When a London hospital was hit by a high-explosive bomb, nurses attending a staff dance ran out in their evening dresses and worked throughout the night helping to rescue the trapped patients.

The bomb scored a direct hit on a block in which there were sixty-nine patients. The building collapsed in a mass of woodwork and masonry, and beds and patients were flung in all directions.

Rescue work was carried out by the light of torches.

"I have never seen such marvellous work," one of those present stated. "I think a member of every Service was there. There were sailors, policemen, A.R.P. workers off duty, and some Army officers. The nurses did not seem to mind about their evening dresses, although by the morning many of them were torn to shreds."

From the part of the block still standing injured patients were carried across an iron bridge to another part of the hospital.

An orderly who was on duty as a fire spotter said:

"We were standing against a wall opposite the block waiting for incendiaries to drop. We could hear the music from the dance, and then suddenly there was a tremendous explosion, and we were flung into the air. When we got up, we all went and fetched blankets and hot drinks for the workers, and also helped the doctors throughout the night.

 " The last man to be brought out was a patient whose legs had been pinned down by a heavy piece of masonry for several hours. Although in severe pain, he laughed and joked with him rescuers all the time. A doctor gave him morphia, and another man gave him a cigarette."

The hospital chaplains, one Church of England and the of her Roman Catholic, ministered to the dying and comforted the injured. They had the highest praise for the medical superintendent, doctors, and nurses who worked amidst the chocking dust and fallen debris, giving hypodermic treatment to sufferers.

This was the second time this hospital had been bombed, Another London hospital - a children's hospital - was hit by two bombs, but, though the damage was fairly considerable, there were no casualties.

The German bombers which raided Swansea apparently flew in from the direction of Brest and Cherbourg. At the same time British 'planes were themselves raiding Brest and Calais.  The German bombers came over in continuous waves. The first arrivals dropped thousands of parachute flares and firebombs. So numerous were the incendiaries that the whole town was lighted up as if by an enormous firework display.

This report appeared in the Daily Telegraph Story of the War volume 1 that covered the period from war being declare don 3rd September 1939 to 2nd September 1941. John Denham was given the series that runs to five volumes by his brother.

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, 8 February 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - Mr and Mrs H. Burfoot

Mr and Mrs Henry Burfoot Jnr were active members of the community for nearly half a century. Mr Burfoot was secretary of the Village Hall Management Committee, a member of the Parochial Church Council and a sidesman. Mrs Burfoot was on the committee of the Eton Wick Nursing Association and was secretary when the Infant Welfare organisation started in 1915. She was also a member of the Church Ladies' Working Party and a founder member of the Eton Wick and Boveney Women's Institute

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

Monday, 1 February 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - Eton College Through the Archives

The February 1999 Parish Magazine reported that there have been two meetings of the Eton Wick History Group; the Festive Evening on 9th December, and the meeting on the 13th January at which Mrs. Penny Hatfield, Eton College's Archivist, gave a talk on "Eton College Through the Archives".

The Festive Evening differed from the usual format in that, as well as the customary Quiz, there was also an opportunity for members to display their own interesting artefacts and memorabilia, thus mounting an informal exhibition - perfect for browsing whilst enjoying John Denham's delicious punch and the customary generous refreshments. The Quiz was won by Mrs. Joan Ballhatchet, with Mrs. Lund a close runner-up. Mr. Frank Bond pointed out that next year, of course, we would be looking at a 'Millennium Christmas Social"! 

He issued programmes for 1999 and took the opportunity to thank the committee members and all those involved in preparation of food, donating raffle prizes, etc. over the past year; with special thanks due to Mrs. Mary Gyngell, who was away at that time and was to go into hospital. (Despite ill health, Mrs. Gyngell has provided cakes for all the group's meetings since it commence in 1992, i,e, 45 meetings).

Mrs. Hatfield commenced her talk by clarifying any doubts as to what 'archives' actually are;: they are bits of paper one produces during the course of day to day business which, once they have lost their administrative value, can by used for their historical value. She gave some fascinating examples, including one which appeared to prove that wolves had become extinct in 1400 - this was based on a Customs record of someone trying to import two (by then rotten!) wolf carcasses; the logical conclusion being that if there had been wolves in England there would have been no need to import them. It was always very important to take into, account why the document was created in the first place.

Foundation Charter 

Mrs. Hatfield went on to talk about and show photographs of the earliest records at Eton College, including the Foundation Charter - the College was founded on 11th October 1440, and the Statutes etc. - beautifully illuminated documents, one of which clearly shows the earliest representation of the members of the House of Commons. Some of the records held in the College's Archives pre-date the College and the earliest documents dates from 1091 and has on it the autographed cross of William Rufus, his brother Henry and various Archbishops - we were reminded that William the Conqueror and his sons were illiterate - hence the crosses.

Mrs. Hatfield was able to give the dates of construction of various College buildings, from the construction of the Chapel (which, after 7 years Henry felt was not large enough, so he had them pull it down and start again, only to have it reduced in size later anyway!) and Lower School in 1443. This schoolroom has been in continuous use since that date, although its present interior is probably 17th Century. Above Lower School was Long Chamber, where boys over 14 years old had beds on their own, but younger ones had to share - there was no heating and only shutters over the open window apertures, and it was said that if you survived Long Chamber in Eton you needed no medical examination for insurance because you were obviously very tough. The present Upper School was built in 1689 (an earlier one fell down after just 20 years). The College's brick buildings are some of the earliest and best to survive in this country, and the Archives even contain records of the names and trade of the people involved in the early construction work. In 1864 New Building was constructed and Long Chamber was partitioned off into separate rooms. School Hall and School Library (architect: L.K. Hall - an Old Etonian) were built as a memorial to the 129 Etonians who were killed in the South African War.

Mrs. Hatfield wove many humorous anecdotes into her talk: boys paid 3d, to see a camel(?); only the old and ugly need apply to be laundresses; the floor of Long Chamber was cleaned, annually, by pulling small boys up and down the room on rugs; the College barber was paid 15/- to whitewash over the imagery on the Chapel walls etc, etc. We hope she will come and talk to us again.

The next meeting will be on 24th February when Tony Cullum will speak on “The changing face of Eton as viewed through the late Mark Bell's sides”.

Monday, 25 January 2021

Tough Assignment - Annie Moore - her early life

2021 will see the the 135th anniversary of the opening of the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Alma Road in what was then Boveney Newtown. In 1986, the Chapel's centenary year local historian, Dr Judith Hunter publish A History of the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel, it was sold for £1.95 per copy.

Annie Moore - her early life

Annie and Emma Moore 
One Sunday afternoon in 1863 two small girls in Rotherhithe became so curious to know what there was to interest the many children attending the Sunday School in Union Street that they followed them into the chapel. A small event, perhaps, but one which was eventually to have far reaching results in Eton Wick. The elder of the two girls was Frances Annie Moore then only ten years old, the daughter of John Moore, a mast and oar maker. Her parents were not Methodists, but they allowed their daughters to be enrolled in the Union Street Sunday School. Annie, as she was usually called, blossomed under the teachers there, finding real joy and vocation in belonging to the church. As she grew older she became one of its most devoted workers, first as organist, then Sunday School teacher and finally class leader (a position of considerable responsibility in the Methodist Church). By this time Annie Moore was a young woman, and a wholehearted Christian who already believed it was her mission in life to win others for Christ. 

In 1877 Annie married Charles Tough, a sturdy Scotsman, who had recently been appointed manager of Bell Farm, Eton Wick. It was here that Annie was to begin her married life and a new chapter in her religious experience.

At this time Eton Wick was a very small country village, its houses - less than a hundred in number - mainly concentrated between Bell Lane and Sheepcote Road, and between the common and Eton Wick Road. Beyond this area there were several farms and farm cottages, and across the parish boundary into Boveney there was just one cottage. This was the Shepherds Hut. North and south of the public house were the Tilstone Fields, then mainly arable, but now only a nostalgic memory in a modern housing estate.

Bell Farm House illustration by Bob Jeffs

The village, though very small to the modern eye, had grown rapidly during the preceding decades; indeed it had almost doubled its population since 1840. Many of the houses facing the main road had been built only a few years before. They were good working class houses, their bright yellow bricks and purple slates contrasting strongly with the warm reds of the older houses to be seen on the common side of the village. The villagers were mostly working class folk - labourers, tradesmen and artisans, many of them finding their employment outside the village. The elite were the farmers, such as George Lillywhite of Manor Farm and John Cross, tenant at Saddocks; only they could afford servants. For several years Bell Farm had been uninhabited, but it had recently been bought by the Eton Sanitary Authority for use as a sewage farm for Eton. Charles Tough was thus more than just a farmer, and although the use of the land was such a revolutionary one locally, the farm and the house itself were amongst the oldest in the parish.

For centuries Eton Wick had been part of the parish of Eton and since the 15th century the parish church had been Eton College Chapel, with the Provost as rector. Until the 19th century the villagers had looked to Eton (or beyond) for their spiritual needs. The great religious revival and spiritual awakening that spread across the country as a result of John Wesley's preaching in the 18th century reached Eton Wick in the early 19th. There was a Methodist Society in Windsor as early as 1800 which grew and flourished, and a small Wesleyan society in Eton Wick itself for a few years in the 1830s, but it was not they, but the Windsor Congregationalists that first brought church services into the village. These services and a Sunday School were held for many years in cottages until, sometime before 1840, a barn was acquired for use as a church. It probably belonged to George Lilywhite of Manor Farm. Some years before the arrival of Mrs Tough to the village the barn was replaced by an 'iron room'. It was somewhere on the common, badly situated according to Annie Tough's own memories so that it was often difficult to reach without going ankle deep in mud. Services were held only on Sunday afternoons, and in Annie's opinion these were 'dead and lifeless' and greatly disturbed by the noises of chickens, ducks and cattle which came right to the chapel door.

OS Map of Eton Wick courtesy of National Library of Scotland

The Church of England had begun to take a far greater interest in the spiritual needs of Eton Wick after the arrival of Henry Harper at Eton College in the 1830s. He was one of the college chaplains and within a short time he had taken special responsibility for Eton Wick. Through his endeavours a small school room was built at the corner of The Walk and Eton Wick Road. It was used as a church day school and a Sunday School as well as being licenced for services. On 'Census Sunday' in 1851 eighty people attended the afternoon service and twenty eight children the Sunday School. Twenty five villagers went to the Congregational Church.

For several years the schoolroom served the village adequately as a church, but by the 1860s the increase in the population made it far too small. By 1865 the first moves had been made to build a daughter church (or chapel of ease) in the village; two years later St John the Baptist's Church was consecrated.

Not long after this, in 1875, Eton College Chapel ceased to be the parish church, the church in Eton High Street taking over this role with the Rev John Shepherd as the first vicar. Pastoral activities, which had begun in the 1830s, had greatly increased, and people in Eton Wick were now feeling the benefits of a shared curate, a district visitor and cheap nourishing food from the Eton Kitchen. Help also came from various new church charities such as the Provident Fund and the Lying-in Charity. The Eton Wick School was still a church school and in 1877 received recognition from the Government as a certified efficient school.

There were 106 children on the register and the average attendance at the Sunday School was reported as 41 boys and 51 girls. Under the auspices of the Rev John Shepherd and his workers there is no doubt that both the spiritual and pastoral responsibilities of the Eton Church towards its parishioners had increased manyfold. 

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history on this website.

The Acknowledgements, Sources of information and Foreword by Ray Rowland can be found by clicking this link.

The My Primitive Methodists website has an article about Annie Tough.