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.

Monday 18 January 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - John W Moore

Moores Lane is named after John Moore, who came to Boveney New Town (as it then was called) from Rotherhithe, Kent. His daughter Annie (a founder of the Alma Road Methodist Chapel) was married to Charles Tough, who became manager of Bell Farm. John Moore had Primrose Cottages and Snowdrop Villas built in Alma Road; his own house was at the end of Primrose Cottages abutting Moores Lane. Boveney had its own Council from 1894 to 1934 and Moore was the first chairman. 

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

Tuesday 12 January 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - January 1941

The new year opened with a raid on Cardiff by 100 German Bombers on the night of January 2nd, this was followed the next night by a raid on Bristol with 170 aircraft. The following week, January 10th, Portsmouth was Blitzed, and stray bombs fell over Surrey, Berkshire and parts of Buckinghamshire.

Eton College having acquired Manor Farm offered the tenancy to James Kinross Snr., who having been a long-standing tenant farmer of the College with no farmhouse, took possession of the farm. Until then the farm base had been a double Dutch Red barn on the Slough - Eton Road. This barn was also known as the ‘Tramps Hotel’ and had the stabling for all the farm motive power, which at that time was twelve horses. The enclosed part of the barn was commandeered by a Government Department for the storage of supplies which at various times included such items as onions and confectionery, which was not a good idea given the rodent population. Military stores consisted of such things as Air Force blue shirts and foot powder, a medicated talc for feet, soldiers for the use of!!.

Clothes rationing made the shirts a desirable item on the Black Market and a temptation to thieves. One night, shortly after the end of the war in Europe, using a lorry, thieves smashed through the barn doors and made off with a quantity of shirts. The shirts, all one size, bore the size mark 22. German P.O.W.'s arriving for work the following morning at Manor farm espied the shirts lying around and proceeded to kit themselves out. Although Manor Farm must be over a mile from one end to the other, the news that Police CID and Military SIB had arrived at the scene of the crime spread like a forest fire. The P.O.W.'s aware of the consequences if caught in possession of stolen property, immediately set about disposing of their loot putting shirts down the toilet, into buckets and in any other suitable place. One German prisoner working out in the field had no alternative but to bury his shirt and carry on working stripped to the waist on a very chilly day. When questioned by the investigating officers, everyone swore that Willie never wore a shirt or coat when working.

The fate of the Dutch barn was sealed in 1958 when it was sold to the Slough scrap merchant W.N. Thomas, demolition being in the capable hands of Andy Skeels of the Wick.

Having learnt to drive one of the new-fangled Fordson tractors, James Kinross Jnr. set about ploughing up the hallowed turf of Agars Plough, Eton. Other recreational areas were ploughed and prepared for cereals including the recreation ground at Eton Wick. By September 1943 the Bucks War Agriculture Executive had designated many acres of grass land around the district including 150 acres of the Dorney common for cereal and vegetable cultivation.

Doris Bentley, Barbara Trimmings and Margaret McIntosh, to name three capable members of the Womens Land Army, worked at Manor Farm and Barbara became very skilled at driving the Fordson tractor. On cold mornings the tractor could be difficult to start, the engine needing to be cranked overusing a starting handle; this operation require a certain amount of strength and knack, both of which Barbara had acquired. Petrol used for starting was contained in a small section of the fuel tank, the larger section containing the vaporising oil on which the engine ran when suitably warmed up. Once her precaution of covering the engine with sacking against frost and damp almost ended in disaster; a leak having  developed in the petrol section of the tank dripped onto the sacking during the night. When endeavouring to start the beast the sacking ignited, and a jet of flame shot up; those around beating a hasty retreat whilst Barbara coolly extinguished the fire.

Harvest time.

Many P.O.W,s were sent to work on local farms and were available on a daily basis from the prisoner of war camp at Maidenhead, being generally allocated at the farmers request in gangs of eight. Max Schattke, a German prisoner of war came to the Manor farm during the summer of 1946.  He was an aerial photographer in the Luftwaffe who had been shot down over Caen in 1945 and captured by the Americans. Having been in captivity for some time on the continent Max arrived in England in late January 1946, going into the large POW camp at Reading; from whence he transferred to the camp at Ascot commencing work at Manor farm. Upon being discharged from his POW status in January 1948 he voluntarily stayed and worked on the farm for another year as a free man. During his stay Max was encouraged to converse in English with help from Mrs Kinross Senior and after having spent some time exploring England Max returned to Germany in 1951.

 “My daughter and I visited Mr and Mrs Kinross at Manor Farm in 1998 and have  memories of Doris Bentley who left in late 1945 to marry a Canadian Police Officer, Barbara who left the farm in 1946, and Margaret McIntosh who married Peter French”.

(Max Schattke)

For the first weeks of January there was no enemy activity in the sky over Slough - Windsor to disturb local residents but the Cities of Cardiff, Bristol and Portsmouth suffered from attacks by the Luftwaffe. This respite did not last, for on the morning of February 3rd., a dismal morning with snow falling, a German aircraft dropped bombs on Upton and Ditton Park, Slough. The sound of machine gun fire sent Eton Wick village school children to seek shelter under their desks and although the. damage was slight but the blast from the exploding bombs caused two panes of glass to crack at the school.

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

A list of Prisoner of War camps in the UK can be found on the WW2 P.O.W. Camps in the UK website.

Monday 4 January 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - An Everyday Story of Farming Folk

On the 16th September 1998, the Eton Wick History Group heard how, at one time, four of the farms in the village were farmed by Tenants. Peter Tarrant, who worked not on a farm but at the Airport, was the guest speaker - he had spent much time researching his family's history and was able to tell his audience that his family had been associated with farming since the late 18th Century. The origin of the name 'Tarrant' was De Trent' (c.1100); and early Christian names were often Reginald and ralph. His family tree diagram clearly showed links between the various Tarrants.

It was most interesting to see maps showing the original layout and names of fields in the area, and to see 'turn of the century' photographs of various farms and cottages and compare them and their surroundings (many Elm trees then) with the way they look today. There were photographs of haymaking in the 1920's; and how nice to see the beautifully thatched round ricks; to see the old threshing machine by the Dutch Barn (in 1948) when the threshers would move in at the appropriate time and sleep in barns wherever they happened to be working. To the non-farmers in the audience, it was perhaps a surprise to hear that, in the past, every tenant farmer had to scour his ditches by 30th November, hedges had to be trimmed or layered by 1st November, animals had to be branded (no substitutes allowed), and farmers were allowed to grow 5 acres of turnips in every 20 acres they farmed.

Hammer Stannett - the last Hayward.

We all know now about the Hayward - he was paid 6d. when the cattle were turned out (apparently not until after 6.00 p.m. on 1st May each year) and 4d. per week after that, and no-one was allowed to stop the cattle from grazing. There were about a dozen dairy farmers up until the 1930's and we heard tales of cattle eating wild garlic and subsequent complaints about garlic-flavoured milk!

Mr. Tarrant was able to outline the history of many of the farms in the area; and not just the farms but also the tracks which run through them. For example, the one from our Common Road through the fields to Common Lane at Eton is called 'The Meads'. If you follow the Meadow Lane track right through to Boveney - where it reaches Boveney it is/was referred to as a turnpike.

During the War, prisoners of war used to work on farms in Eton Wick; and, as a reminder of those times, Mr. Tarrant had brought with him some memorabilia including the head of an anti-aircraft shell, part of an incendiary bomb and some brass cannon cases. He described the posts and trenches in the fields - constructed to prevent glider landings.

We saw pictures of the 1947 floods and the severe snow of1963; and heard about Bob Bond's haystack burning down; and the barn which was blown down in 1987, which was also when the roof was blown off Mr. Tarrant's father's cottages.

Then there were the chickens; Mr. Tarrant senior had bred chickens for show as well as for egg production - specialising in Buff Orpingtons and Silver Lace Wyandottes. The final photograph was a beautiful sunset - seen beyond some Elm trees.

Frank Bond thanked Mr. Tarrant for his fascinating talk and highlighted the 9th December meeting when each member is asked to bring one item of interest for a 'MEMBERS' EXHIBITION'. The Committee invited suggestions for the 1999 programme.

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 1998 edition.