Monday 28 February 2022

Old Days of Eton Parish - CHAPTER IV - The 200 years Before The College was founded


IT appears that in the reigns of Henry III. and Edward I. (1216-1307) the Abbey of Reading held property in both Windsor and Eton, but there is no evidence of the monks being employed in Eton.

 A solitary relic of their presence is the Abbot's pile,' a wooden pile at the head of an eyot near Tangier Mill. This still forms the boundary-mark of the right of fishery belonging to the borough of Windsor.

Sometime before 1239, the close connection with the Priory of Merton came to an end; and the patronage passed into private hands. In that year Thomas de Lacel resigned the living and Hugo de Hoddeg, a sub-deacon, was presented for the vacant post by Hugo de Hoddeg, a soldier. After some delay owing to the defect in his qualifications, he was instituted1 and is designated Rector as holding all the tithes.

The next recorded Rector was Thomas Holte, presented to the living by the family of Huntercombe in 1299 and holding it till his death.

 A list of the Rectors who succeeded him, until the foundation of the College, will be found in Appendix I.

There were no less than seventeen during this period. From the frequent mention of exchange or resignation, it was evidently not considered a very eligible piece of preferment.2

In 1288, the tenth of all ecclesiastical Benefices in England was granted to King Edward I. towards his expensive wars and expeditions. In order to carry out this taxation, a general assessment was made. The living of Eton, then, and until 1847, in the Diocese of Lincoln,3 is mentioned as taxed at £10 13s. 4d. in the money of the time. In the same return Clifware or Clewer was assessed at £10, Upton at £13 6s. 8d., Stoke at £10, and Dorney at £6 13s. 4d.

Probably in the same reign, stables for the King's horses were built in Eton. Hence the name King's Stable Street, where, as a map in the Woods and Forests Office shows, the Crown had house property, till the middle of the eighteenth century, known as the King's Stables. In 1319 King Edward II. granted to Oliver de Bourdeaux, the keeper of the castle and forest, his lands in Eton. Soon after he also gave him all hereditaments in Windsor and Eton which had belonged to John of London and Roger de Mowbray, on condition of his finding a man with a lance and a dart to attend the King's army.

In the fifteenth year of King Edward IIl. (1341) (just I00 years before the College was founded), a ninth part of the corn, wood, lambs' fleeces, and other profits was granted by Parliament to the King to meet the expenses of a war with France. In the assessment then made, the duties for Eton Parish were set down at fourteen marks; those for Old and New Windsor together amounted to twenty marks. The return for Eton is supposed to have been less than the full amount, as thirty acres of arable land and six acres of pasture were exempted from the tax as being Church property. In 1360, William of Wykeham, afterwards founder of Winchester College, was engaged on works at Windsor Castle, and his name appears in a commission appointed by the King to dispose of certain tenements and lands Belonging to the Crown, including unnecessary houses in Windsor, Eton and Upton.

Among the private owners of lands, mention is made of one Thomas atte Wyk de Etone (Thomas of Eton Wick) who held one virgate4 of land at Ditton, on behalf of the Abbess and Convent of Burnham.

The Brocas family was well known in the reigns of Edward II. and III. They fought on the Lancastrian side in the War of the Roses. For centuries they were hereditary masters of the Royal Buckhounds. Sir John de Brocas was chief forester of Windsor Forest and Warden of Windsor Hospital in 1351 and was entrusted with the work of enlarging the Castle. He acquired land in Windsor, Clewer and Eton.

A descendant of his, son of Sir Bernard Brocas who was beheaded in the beginning of Henry IV.'s reign, served the two following Kings, and received, among other rewards, what is known as Brocas Meadow. According to a local tradition this meadow was given to the town of Eton by a Lady Brocas, but for more than a century past the College has claimed the right of grazing cattle there.

In 1391 an incident occurred which brings Eton into notice, and doubtless caused some little stir in the town.

The citizens of London had caused the displeasure of the King by refusing to lend him a thousand pounds and also by ill-treating and nearly killing a Lombard who was willing to advance it. In consequence of this, the Mayor of London, the Sheriffs, and the best citizens were arrested and imprisoned. After a time, the Chronicler tells us, "the King was somewhat pacified and by little and little abated the rigour of his purpose, and determined to deal more mildly with them," and so sent orders that they should come to Windsor, " there to shew their privileges, liberties, and laws."

Whether it was that the town of Windsor was still so small, or that it was ill provided with a suitable place of meeting, must remain uncertain; but the inquiry took place at Eton, on the feast of St. Mary Magdalen, before Edmund Duke of York, Thomas Duke of Gloucester, and others. The commission decided that the City of London should be governed in future by a Warden, two Sheriffs and twenty-four Aldermen.

This decision was communicated to the offending parties by the King at a Council held in the Castle, and new officers were appointed.

This is the last incident recorded before the foundation of the College, which, so far as it affected the town and the parishioners generally, must now engage our attention.

For further particulars about the College, our readers must consult the many interesting books already published on the subject.5

1 Lincoln Episcopal Register—Bishop Grey.

2 It is possible that the Priory of Merton in parting with the advowson had kept its grip on most of the Church property.

3 The Diocese of Dorchester was now known as the Diocese of Lincoln, the Bishop having again settled in the latter city; as many ten counties were at this date under his care.

4 A virgate is a measure of land varying from 15 to 40 acres.

5 Especially Sir H. Maxwell-Lyte's Eton College and Willis and Clark's Architectural History of Cambridge, from which the present writer has drawn most of the information about the Chapel.

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

Monday 21 February 2022

Tough Assignment - The 1950's - A Good Decade

The 1950s were good years for the chapel. The number of children attending the Sunday School grew, and within a few years numbers had returned to pre-war strength. Unfortunately, the youth club closed in 1952, partly at least because of its own success which had kept the club a rather closed entity. As the teenagers grew up boyfriends and other new interests and activities brought this part of their lives to an end. The club had failed to attract new younger members. A few years later, however, a junior club was started by Margaret Drake and Edna Harris. The first report suggests it was very a successful venture with a membership of nearly thirty -though an insistence on 'too much' time for prayers and devotional activities was suggested as the reason why membership dropped a little in 1957! The club did not close however, and with a slight adjustment of programme struggled on into the 1960s.

Meanwhile other ideas were being tried. Caravan missions to children in the village met with mixed reactions. Sunday morning breakfasts in the garden at Bryanston, however, were a great success for a few years. A creche was begun in 1954 enabling several mothers of young children to join the sisterhood meetings on Thursday afternoons. A toy service was held in December 1955 -the first of many such services - and the gifts received were taken to Fraton's Nursery at Maidenhead. The following year every child in the nursery received a birthday card and a chocolate egg at Easter.

A party was held for boys from one of Dr Barnado's home and the money collected by chapel members carol singing round the village was given to the National Children's Home Organisation. Cradle Roll services were begun and in 1953 the Sunday School children were taken to London to attend the JMA Golden Medal Meeting. It was a proud day for the chapel and Jean Drake when she received a medal for collecting for ten years. The chapel became the proud possessor of a slide projector bought from the funds of the defunct youth club and this was put to good use by all sections of the chapel. The new Circuit magazine, 'The Link' was an innovation reflecting the regular activity of church business. But perhaps the most important fresh activity of the 1950s for Eton Wick was the revival of class meetings under the name fellowship meetings. Four class leaders were elected -Mrs Chew, Harry Cook, Marjorie Morris and Sylvia Chew -to 'act as "shepherds" to a proportion of the members'. The fortnightly meetings, held in leaders' homes, were chaired by the Minister. They took the form of discussion groups and these meeting became an integral part of chapel life in the 1950s. A few people, of course, did not find them to their liking and later in the decade, when the Rev. Leslie Hall was Minister, the fellowship meetings alternated with mid-week services.

In 1952 the debt incurred by the redecoration of the chapel was at last paid off, a donation from Mr Russell Smith of Cricklewood, London, clearing the final outstanding amount. It was then resolved that the redecoration of the Tough Memorial Hall should go ahead. Two years later thoughts of the trustees turned to the possibility of connecting the chapel to main drainage and at the same time enlarging the schoolroom once again. Work began the next year. The wall between the toilets at the rear of the Hall was demolished and the kitchen extended. New toilets were built. It was a far more modest extension than that of 1935 and much of the necessary money was raised through grants and donations. St Mark's Womens Fellowship of Maidenhead presented a pageant, raising £11 which was donated to the extension fund. Queen Street Church, Maidenhead gave some £30 and amongst those that generously gave grants were the Joseph Rank Trust, the General Chapel Fund and Her Majesty the Queen.

At the end of the decade optimism stood high. Membership had now jumped to thirty-five and the Sunday School to an unprecedented 92 (except when the evacuees children swelled the numbers). The chapel now had three of its own local preachers - Daphne Hogg, who had moved to Eton Wick from Windsor, Tom Dally, who also became the organist, and Helen Banham. The chapel was especially proud of Helen for she had first found her faith in the Sunday School. She recalled her days as a toddler in the infant class to the fascination of the children in the present Sunday School when she preached at the opening of our centenary year.

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.

Monday 14 February 2022

Photographic History - Village Characters - George Paget and Chris Rigden


George used his horse and cart to trade in greengroceries, removals and other odd jobs. He also ran pony and trap trips for tourists, operating from the Windsor Castle taxi rank. George and his horse-drawn trans-port appeared in several films, which included the 'Carry on' series. George served in the Western Desert Army during the Second World War. 

Chris owned the Cockpit Restaurant in Eton High Street before taking over the Barksfield Bakery in Dorney. In the 1960s Chris regularly waited each night at the Burning Bush bus stop for the last Green Line coach of the evening, bringing his step-daughter Penny home from her leading role in the 'Black and White Minstrels' show at London's Victoria Palace Theatre. The photograph, taken in the late 1940s shows the now removed Eton Parish Church spire, the Roman Catholic Church and the 'Well's' timber built shed, now replaced with an office block. 

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

Wednesday 9 February 2022

World War 2 Eighty Years On - February 1942 - New Ration Books

9th February

Ration Book
courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

The issue of new ration books this month required a trip from the village to the Food Office at 39 Eton High Street. Ration books were issued in alphabetical order for collection on specified days as advertised on posters and in newspapers by the Ministry of Food. Generally, the system worked if people could get to the Food Office at the specified times, but this was not always convenient for the housewife engaged in war work in a factory, public service or managing her family with additional billeted evacuees as was shown by the later reminders to people to collect their new books. Shipping losses and military requirements put the supply of many goods in very short supply. A monthly ration of soap for each person was a 4oz block of household and 2oz tablet of toilet soap. Washday was difficult as the soap often failed to produce a lather in the local hard water and housewives were advised to add a little soda to the water.   Soap flakes and powders of the time such as Persil, Rinso and Oxydol were also rationed, and some laundry companies now refused to accept new customers.  A standard tablet of Lifebuoy soap was 2d. per tablet whilst scented toilet soap cost 4d. Including tax and 1 coupon.

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

For an insight to how corner shops managed wartime rationing The View from the Corner Shop, a diary of a Yorkshire shop assistant in wartime is a very good place to start. It is based on the Mass Observation Diary written by Kathleen Hey edited by Patricia & Robert Malcolmson. The book covers the period between July 1941 and July 1946.