Monday 25 April 2022

Tough Assignment - Changing Attitudes 1966-1986

The changes did not begin in 1966 - they had already started several years back when the first discussions took place over the question of Anglican and Methodist Union. In the village there was even talk of a new, shared church, but only one joint event actually occurred that first year, a carol service in the church of St John the Baptist, to which members of the chapel were invited. In subsequent years there were to be several occasions when members of both churches shared services especially at Christmas, Covenant and Patronal Festival.

On the 6th of December 1969 a united youth club was launched. Their first meeting was held in the Memorial Hall with Dennis Nelson as the Methodist leader, but like the other youth clubs started in earlier years, this was also destined to last only a short time and the number of Methodist youngsters who joined was disappointingly small. The chapel's commitment to youth work, however, remained strong and throughout the 1970s a few young people from the chapel attended the annual youth weekends arranged by the Circuit. The good relationship between the chapel and the Church of England has grown and encompassed also the Roman Catholic Church of St. Gilbert. On a very practical level, the three village churches have accepted joint responsibility for the churchyard and contribute to the fund set up for its maintenance.

Meanwhile the chapel Sunday School was not doing very well. The numbers were still falling, as they were nationally. From 42 children in 1967 they had dropped to a mere 33 by 1975. The following year brought a small influx when the Church of England Sunday School closed. History had turned full circle. Who could have envisaged this a hundred years ago when the Rev. Keating tried to shut Mrs Tough's first small Sunday School held in the Iron Room? The pattern of Sunday School 'life, however, had changed. Numbers fluctuated and in some years, there was a very pleasing number of younger ones, but few stayed beyond the junior stage despite more attempts at mid-week youth club activities. Scripture examinations ceased to be taken in the 1970s and the Sunday School anniversaries which were great Sunday and weekday events in the 1960s (as the scholars proudly recited or sang to the congregation the poems and hymns they had learnt) were gradually phased out. More encouraging were the family services, held once a month, which brought the parents of many of the younger scholars to the chapel.

The introduction of the Mums and Tots Group in 1985 was a new venture, and though Mrs Tough would probably not have used these words, undoubtedly, she would have approved. The 5.50 club was founded in 1982 and is aptly named as its teenage members meet at 10 minutes to 6 each Sunday evening for half an hour of discussion with Mr and Mrs Wigmore. 

1976 brought an unprecedented change in the organisation of chapel affairs when an Act of Parliament extinguished the Methodist Church trusts and replaced them with Church Councils. No longer was the fabric of the chapel to be the responsibility of the old-style trustees and their last meeting was held on the 10th November of that year. The change-over became known as restructuring with Eton Wick subject to the rules laid down for churches with less than sixty members. The change took place gradually, and in fact the Church Council had already come into being two years earlier, replacing the Leaders' Meetings. From 1976 the Council took on the responsibility of chapel maintenance and from this date concern for the chapel building became the duty of the Eton Wick Church Council, rather than that of trustees, who had always included people from other churches and chapels in the Circuit. It was quite a heavy burden to take on, for the chapel was now ninety years old and showing its age in spite of all the loving care that had been expended upon it. Membership had now risen to 39, but even if growth was still slow, at least the ability to raise money was still one of the notable features of the chapel.

Year by year the minute books tell of the Council's attention to the needs of the chapel - new service books, windows, tables, chairs, repairs to the roof, to the floor, guttering, rewiring - the list is endless and so is the need to raise more money. Coffee mornings, jumble sales, weekly subscriptions, saving boxes, bring and buy sales - these are the usual methods of collecting money and there is nothing very special about any of them, only the amounts collected. The chapel really has a very remarkable record in this direction.

Although a considerable proportion of the money has been used for the chapel, the greater part in most years has been destined for the work of the Methodist Church at home and abroad. The Overseas and Home Missions, JMA and Women's Work remain important, but there is now also a greater awareness of other needs, such as international disasters, poverty in inner city areas and the changing role of the missionary. Since the 1970s money has been regularly sent to the Methodist Relief Fund as well as to individual disaster funds, and the Christian Aid envelopes have been distributed and collected every year. In 1978 and '79 money was given to help modernise International House in London which is used by overseas missionary students who come to study in this country. In 1983 the Methodist Conference initiated the Mission Alongside the Poor Fund whereby it was hoped that the Methodist Church would raise £l million within five years to help the most needy areas in this country. This is another fund to which the chapel now regularly contributes. A hundred years ago Mr Lodge, who chaired the first meeting at the chapel, remarked that Methodists were expected to give in both time and money. Clearly this has not changed. Several times Eton Wick has been the third largest collector for Overseas Missions in the Circuit and top of the list when the amount raised was calculated per capita. Not for nothing did one Minister call Eton Wick 'the most generous chapel in the Circuit'. 

In 1985 the Circuit, in common with most other Circuits in the country, recommended the adoption of a new hymn book, 'Hymns and Psalms', but in this matter the members communion stewards, and the poor or benevolent fund ceased to be kept separate from the general chapel fund. Social responsibility and community care, however, are still regular items on the agenda and reflect the chapel's concern-for the community outside the chapel as well as within. Outreach is the new word describing the churches efforts to reach out and influence those who are not yet committed Christians. The word gives a different idea of what is being attempted, and indeed the means and ways are different, but sometimes it is difficult not to reflect on Mrs Tough and her efforts to bring people to Salvation.

The restructured Methodist Society now functions on a well documented and all too familiar set of plans and reports which reveal a variety of programmes and activities covering talks, demonstrations, visits, outings, Fundays, special services, anniversaries, Christmas and Easter festivals and Harvest thanksgiving. The calendar-of events both locally and within the circuit is full and extensive and the corporate sprit is high.

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.

Tuesday 19 April 2022

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - The Pubs in Eton and Eton Wick

About 80 people attended the first meeting of 1995 on Wednesday, 1lth January. The Pubs in Eton and Eton Wick were the subject of the talks illustrated with slides and presented by Tony Cullum and John Denham. At the turn of the century there were twenty-four pubs, taverns, and inns in Eton. The number in Eton Wick varied as time went by but for many years now the four, we know have been in existence, the oldest being the Three Horseshoes.

On display during the evening was a scrapbook showing the history of The Three Horseshoes. This was compiled by members of the Eton Wick & Boveney Women's Institute in 1975 and was entered in a county competition shortly after our move into the Berkshire Federation following the county boundary changes of 1974. The talks and slides were followed by a social time with a variety of refreshments including John Denham's famous punch. Our thanks to Mary Gyngell who made all the eats, (little cakes, sausage rolls and mince pies). We had a raffle to which helped to defray the extra expense.

In his opening address, chairman Frank Bond spoke of the progress made with the plans for re-storing the Pound. Mr. Geoff Hayes, a local man who has specialist knowledge regarding the restoration of old buildings is preparing specifications for builders' estimates. This is pro-ably going to be a bigger job than had at first been anticipated. 

The next meeting will be on Wednesdays 22nd February in the Village Hall at 730 p.m. Full details will be given on posters and in the local papers, nearer the date. 

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 January edition of 1996.

Wednesday 13 April 2022

Old Days of Eton Parish - CHAPTER V - THE FOUNDING OF THE COLLEGE. 1422 TO 1448.

IN 1422 Henry VI. came to the throne and was soon full of a plan for founding a school. At last, he selected the site at Eton, near his own birthplace and residence. His original plan is thus described in the first charter: 

" For the praise honour and glory of God, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and for the increase of divine worship and the increase of the Holy Church, to found make and ordain and duly establish a college in the Parochial Church of Etone, near New Wyndesor, in the Diocese of Lincoln, to consist of a Provost and other Fellows, Priests, Clerks, and Choristers, as also of poor and indigent scholars, and also of other poor and infirm men. Also of one master in Grammar who should gratuitously instruct the poor and indigent scholars, and others coming there from any part of the kingdom, in the knowledge of letters and especially in the art of Grammar." 

The first step taken by the King was to procure the advowson or patronage of the Church. There was a long delay in carrying out this, as there were now three joint patrons]. to be satisfied, but on August 29, 1440, all was arranged, and with the consent of William Alnwick, Bishop of Lincoln¹, the advowson was conveyed to the King, together with the tithes of Eton and the lands belonging to the Church. 

The Bishop at the same time consented to the making of the Parochial Church of Eton a Collegiate Church as well and committed it to the care of the Provost and Fellows. 

The Bishop then received the resignation of the Rector, John Kette, who was made a Fellow, and he instituted the first Provost of Eton as Rector of the Parish. By the statutes subsequently drawn up, it was provided that the Provost, as Rector, should receive £25 in lieu of the tithes, fruits, and oblations made in the Church, and that the College should have the advantage of the rest. 

From the first, the King intended to build a Church worthy of his purpose ; but as some time must elapse before the plans could be decided on, or the building completed, the existing Church, which then stood, according to Professor Willis, in the middle of the Churchyard, and south of the present College Chapel, was re-roofed and the chancel pulled down and rebuilt on a larger scale and fitted with a rood-loft and stalls and other appurtenances for the daily choral service.

Two elm-trees were also purchased for constructing a wooden belfry, in which were hung two bells, brought from London, the wheels and clappers being procured in Eton. 

The next year, one of the windows of the old Church was ornamented with the royal arms, and others were " emended with iren for the haire to cum in to the Chirche." 

Twelve of the chancel windows were also filled in with powdred ' glass with figures of twelve prophets, and a closet was screened off, for the use of the King and Queen.

A treasury was also built to the east of the chancel to hold the Church plate and vestments.

The King appears to have bought up properties along Baldwin's Shore, close beside the stream, consising of several tenements, shops and houses; most of these were cleared away to make room or the College kitchen and other proposed buildings. 

About the same time he acquired for the College Hundercombe Garden, the ground now covered by the College Chapel and School-yard, and ten acres between the King's highway to the hamlet called 'le Slowe' and the River Thames, and to this was given the name of the King's warde or King's worth.² Later on, a further part of the Playing Fields was conveyed to the College by the Prior and Convent of Merton, together with a weir' called Bullokslok, and four eyots and the right of fishing attached. They also acquired possession of the Fellows' Eyot, then an island, known as Heverdewere, and the burgesses of Windsor granted them some fisheries they held in the river, and also right of free passage over and under the bridge.

It has been mentioned that a stream ran under Baldwin Bridge, reaching the river by what is now the Fellows' Garden. This was to be " turned overthwarte into the river of Thamise with a ditch of 40 foote in breadth, and the ground between the said ditch and the College arised of a great height, so that it may at all times be plain and dry ground." Other preparations were also made. Stone for building material was brought by water from various parts of England, large quantities coming from the same quarry in Yorkshire as had been used for King's College Chapel, Cambridge. 

The timber required was stored in what is now known as the Field or Sixpenny, but which then acquired the name of Timberhaw,' corrupted into Timbralls.'

A special brick kiln was opened at 'le Slowe.

Workmen, masons, ' breke layeers,' and carpenters were brought together from all parts. The skilled men received three shillings a week, the common labourers were paid at the rate of 4d. a day.

 All these preparations and changes must have created no little stir in the quiet town of Eton, and such an influx of workmen into the place must have sorely strained its resources. 

It led a little later to a petition to the King, from the Royal College and the inhabitants within the town, in which they complain that " the scholers artificers and labourers thether resortyng have had many times here-afore and yette have grete scarstee of brede, ale and other vitailles." In consequence of this petition the King granted the privilege of a weekly market. Whether this was a renewal of the ancient charter granted in King John's time or an extra market does not appear. 

The King also granted the privilege of two annual fairs to be held at Eton. One of these was fixed for the three common working days next following Ash Wednesday, and the other for six working days following the Feast of the Assumption in August. The place where these fairs were held was known as Michelmyldshey, apparently the property of Merton Priory, but the exact position of this is uncertain.³

The pig fair, which used to be held on Ash Wednesday in the road through College, was probably a survival of the first of these fairs. Stories have been told of the pigs being penned in the road, and suffering the loss of their tails at the hands of Eton boys, in spite of the care taken by the authorities to keep them in School and Chapel till the fair was over. 

As a further precaution against the dearth of food, all the inhabitants were exempted from the jurisdiction of the King's purveyors and from having any of his officers or servants quartered on them. 

The building of the new Church, which was to serve as the Collegiate and Parochial Church, was begun in 1441, but from one cause and another progressed very slowly for some years.

Meantime the old Parish Church was the scene of the consecration of no less than three Bishops, two of them men of considerable renown. The first was Thomas Bekynton, who as King Henry's Secretary and Arch-deacon of Bucks had taken a lively interest in the foundation of the College and School. He was consecrated Bishop of Bath and Wells on November 13, 1443, Alnwick, Bishop of Lincoln, and the Bishops of Salisbury and Llandaff officiating. 

After the consecration service in the Church, "Bekynton on wearing his new episcopal robes proceeded across the Churchyard to the site of the new Church. An altar protected from the weather by an awning had been erected for the occasion over the spot where the King had laid the foundation stone," and there Bekynton celebrated the Holy Eucharist for the first time as Bishop. 

John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester, was also consecrated in this Church in 1444, and in 1447 William Waynflete, first Head Master and second Provost of Eton, was here made Bishop of Winchester. 

The Pope having granted special indulgences to those who visited the new shrine at Eton, many people from all parts made pilgrimages there, especially on the festivals of the Blessed Virgin, and in 1448 license was granted to the Provost to depute a Fellow to hear the confessions of the pilgrims, and two years later, as the numbers increased, he was licensed to appoint three priests for the like purpose. 


1 William Waplade, Nicholas Clopton, and John Faryngdon, descendants of the Lovel family. 

'Worth ' means ' girded with a wattled fence.

3' It may have been the meadow near the Brocas now occupied by Emlyn's Buildings. 

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 4 April 2022

Photographic History - Village Characters - Bravery Medal for Wolf Cub William Hodge

Chief Scout Robert Baden Powell awarded the Gilt Cross and Certificate to nine-year-old William Hodge of the 1st Eton Group on April 17th 1929. While playing on an ice-covered stream in South Meadow, Eton, on the 1st March 1929 Alan Kingston (6) fell through the ice. William and another eight-year-old boy tried to pull him out, but the ice broke under their weight, and they went under also. William continued his efforts alone after his eight-year-old colleague left the scene, and he finally managed to pull Alan out, averting a probable fatality. 

The upper photograph shows the Certificate with Baden Powell's signature, a lower photograph is of William (on the right), with Alan. 

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