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”.