Monday 27 June 2022

World War 2 Eighty Years On - June 1942 - Salvage and Savings


Salvage and savings were encouraged by the government to aid the war effort.  Poems, ditties and catch phrases are recalled that were chanted by the children engaged in raising savings.  Time has eroded the memory of the complete text but the following are recalled:-

 “ Rawlapindi is sunk and Hood

Come make these losses doubly good

By the guns that blazed on Jervis Bay

Give us the ships we need today


Also partly remembered was the following:-


“One day little Albert Ramsbottom

To see how much money he had got

Stuck a knife in his money box

And wriggled and fished out the lot

It came to one shilling and ninepence

Which he found with a few simple sums

Was fortytwo ha'penny suckers

Or twentyone packets of gums"


The shortage of raw materials from normal sources gave impetus to salvage drives. Eton U.D.C co-operating with Windsor, supported a two-week salvage campaign organised by Buckinghamshire C.C., aimed to collect fifty tons. Eton and Eton Wick set out to collect 10 tons of paper, metals, rags and bones, rubber and bottles and jars and surpassed their aim ending the two weeks with a total of 22 tons. The combined total collected was a staggering 140 tons The salvage of books was set at 4500 but the target was exceeded by 2000, Eton Wick contributing 1554. 

Though in poor health, Mr Chew, with the help of Miss Morris and the Guides organized the successful salvage drive at Eton Wick. The Guides had been entered for a Rally but they withdrew from this when it became known that Mr Chew was depending upon them.  Boys of the village did not have the same loyalty as only Harry Prior jnr and Briddles with two others gave help, transporting the collection by the loan of a horse and cart. 

Enthusiasm of Girl Guide salvage collectors was such that if it was not screwed down, on to the cart it went. A competition for the best poster was arranged for children attending local Elementary Schools. Prizes were given by the Salvage Committee, the winning exhibits displayed by Messrs Spottiswoode at their shop in Eton High Street.  Winning entries received prizes given by the Salvage Committee.  No.2 Bell Cottage, Bell Lane became the village salvage collecting centre having been lent to the Waste Utilization Committee there the waste paper and scrap metal was sorted to await collection.

 Increasing night activity by the German Luftwaffe during the months of April and May and into June kept the local anti-aircraft batteries alert as the enemy commenced their reprisal ‘Baedeker Raids’ on the cathedral cities of Norwich, York, Canterbury, Bath (25, 26, 27th), and Exeter (May3-4)¹. This activity also brought broken nights sleep to the village inhabitants as German and RAF planes passed over Slough - Windsor on the way to their respective targets.

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

Note 1 John Denham's wife Betty live in Exeter between 1932 and 1951.

Wednesday 22 June 2022


King Henry VIII
by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist, c1520,
National Portrait Gallery London

IN 1509 Henry VIII. began his reign. The following year was marked by an outbreak of the plague in Eton, and in consequence most of the Eton School boys were removed to Langley Marish, but there is no record of the extent of the disease, or of any unusual mortality in the parish. 

During this reign, three great processions passed through the town. The first was in 1519. The King had kept St. George's day with great pomp and then rode from Richmond through Hounslow, Slough, and Eton, attended by the Knights of the Garter and their suites. A writer of the day describes it as being "as great solemnity, as it had been the feast of a Coronation."

Another remarkable procession was the funeral of one of Henry's wives, Jane Seymour. This took place in 1537. On the three previous days, labourers were employed to repair the road between Long Bridge (Fifteen Arch Bridge) and Baldwin's Pool. It would appear that the road had suffered from the heavy traffic connected with the building of the College, so the cost¹ was undertaken by the College. 

A still more gorgeous spectacle was the funeral of King Henry VIII., whose body was brought from Westminster to Windsor. The procession is said to have been four miles in length. On the coffin drawn by eight horses was a wax effigy² of the deceased King. As it passed through each parish, it was received by the clergy and choirs, holding tapers and chanting the Penitential Psalms. Special mention is made by the chroniclers of the respect shown as the funeral procession passed Eton Churchyard. 

It was during the reign thus closed that the Reformation of the Church of England began. The first step taken was the repudiation of the Pope's jurisdiction over the English Church, thereby endorsing the principle, always held in Eastern Christendom, of the independence of each national Church. A public declaration to this effect was made by the Provost and other clergy of Eton in July, 1534. 

The encroachments of the Bishops of Rome into the Anglo-Saxon Church dated from the coming of William the Conqueror but had never been accepted without protest. Their increasing exactions of various money-payments were cordially disliked by the independent people of this country. Eton probably shared the feeling strongly, having so lately experienced the effects of papal interference, and hence was doubly glad to throw over the usurped authority; especially as for the present it meant no changes in the accustomed services and the arrangements of the Church. 

The King soon followed up his first step by an attack on the monasteries which were the warmest supporters of the Pope, and the wealth of many of the religious houses was swept into his coffers; but the Royal College, although threatened and required to give an account of its annual revenues and expenditure, escaped spoliation, and the Rectoria remained in the hands of the Provost, being valued at £10. 

In the next reign the Reformation movement was further advanced. The rejection of foreign interference was followed up by the removal of various customs and teachings, which had come in from Rome, and lacked the authority of the ancient undivided Church. 

The invention of printing (1440) had revived learning in this country, and Wickliffe's translation of the Bible had opened the eyes of many to the unscriptural character of much of the religion of the day, and to the abuses and corruptions which were then prevalent. This increased knowledge was further fostered by the reading in English of a lesson every Sunday and holyday, a practice introduced by Henry VIII. together with the saying of the Litany in English.

Now, under Edward VI., the Prayer Book was revised throughout, rearranged, and translated from Latin into the mother tongue of the country. 

Indications of the movement are soon noticeable in Eton. 

In 1547 the number of Chaplains employed was reduced, as, with fewer services, so many priests were no longer needed. A copy of the Great Bible was also pro-cured, and placed in the Church, as also a copy of Homilies or Sermons, which had been put forth by authority for public use and instruction. The Gospel and Epistle were now read in English. 

The following year, under a Provost who was an ardent Reformer, certain images which had stood behind the High Altar were removed, on the ground probably that they had been regarded with superstitious reverence. The Church walls also were adorned with Bible-texts, "for the better edification of the Scholars and Parishioners." The same year the new Order of Communion came into use, and in 1549 the revised English Prayer Book was authorised and ordered for all the services of the Church. 

The custom also of keeping the Feasts of the Death and Translation of Thomas Becket, Corpus Christi, and the Nativity and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin was discontinued.

A few years later the various side-altars in the Church were removed, and what must have been a shock to the feelings of many devout people, the embroidered frontals were sold, the Provost and several of the Fellows buying them for their own purposes. 

But, generally speaking, these changes caused little serious stir, either among the clergy or the people. There were, however, exceptions. The people of Devonshire and Cornwall resented strongly the alteration of their accustomed services, and rose in rebellion, and there seems to have been some special cause for anxiety in the neighbourhood of Eton and Windsor. 

In consequence of the Exeter riots, orders were issued for the repressing of commotions and uproars, if any such should happen in the counties of Oxfordshire, Berks and Bucks.

Provost Smith writes to the Secretary of State as to the evil state of the realm, and suggests the appointment of responsible gentlemen in each shire to enforce the King's proclamation; " the Watchmen," he wrote, " were no good, only great promoters of rebellion."4

On the other hand, there were some extremists, who regarded the Church of Rome as wholly evil, and were opposed to the retention of any of the ancient ceremonial, as if it all were alike tainted. Happily they were in the minority; and the Church of England, although reformed and purified, remained in all essential points the same old historic Church, with the same clergy ministering the same Sacraments in the same buildings, and using, with slight exceptions, the same ornaments as in times past. 


1 Various inhabitants of Eton seem to have left money in their wills towards the repair of this road, there being no public resources in those days to meet such expenses. 

2 Similar effigies are still preserved and shown in Westminster Abbey.

3 Cal. State Papers, July 1549

4 Cal. State Papers.

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 13 June 2022

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - Archaeological History and Finds of Eton College's Rowing Lake

On the 13th of August and 10th of September the Group explored the archaeological history and finds of Eton College's Rowing Lake site. Approximately 45 enthusiasts visited the site itself in August, meeting at the newly formed information Centre at Boveney Court Farmyard to commence with a short explanatory talk, given by Mr. Tim Allen of the Oxford Archaeological Unit, and then transferring by minibus and cars to be conducted around the site by Mr. Allen: subsequently returning to the farm to examine various finds. This was the end of the archaeologists third summer of excavation there and they have examined two-thirds of the Rowing Lake project area. The remaining third will continue in agricultural use until after the year 2000, by which time it is hoped that half of the rowing course will have been dug and the main contractors will then be ready to clear remaining land to enable the archaeologists, with the help of students and school-leavers to check it out before the final 1200m of lake is excavated. Our site visit had to be drawn, reluctantly to a close when the light failed, and we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

The finds have been numerous, some very exciting, and Mr. Allen's enthusiasm was most infectious, so there was a very good turnout when he came to give a talk to the Group on the 10th of September. He illustrated it with many photographic slides depicting not only some of the fascinating finds, but also explanatory maps and diagrams to enable us to pinpoint their precise locations. Mr. Allen explained that the archaeologists' first step had been to fly over the site and examine crop marks, areas which remained wet when others were parched, mounds etc. Crop marks in the area showed the site of Roman and Iron Age enclosures and Bronze age burial mounds and wet areas proved that the Thames had previously meandered down a different channel. In 1993 they thought that anything of interest would be found on dry ground (magnetic and electrical resistance tests don't works when the area is wet) but, in 1994 they dug trenches in the wet areas and soon found a large Mesolithic (8000-4000 BC) site they found 35,000 flint tools in an area of 50m. A hearth and some pottery were dated at 4000 years old and vertical posts which were probably bridge supports proved that the major channel of the Thames flowed through the project site until some 2000 years ago evidence of two bridges was found in 1995 and a further four in 1996 - one bridge dated from 1400 - 1300 BC and another from 800 - 400 BC (even remains of a beaver-lodge were found, complete with dead beaver). Until about 300 AD the channel continued around the south side of Eton Wick where the Neolithic enclosure was found in South Field: in fact, there were enclosures at each end of the original channel. 

The remains of beetles, snails, plants, and pollen in the peat have enabled the archaeologists to reconstruct a complete environmental history of the Rowing Lake site: how 6,000 years ago it would have been completely wooded and then gradually the land was cleared. Large groups of people lived there in Neolithic times they were the earliest farmers in Britain and thousands of flints, pottery and animal bones dating back 6,000 years were carefully excavated; pots were round-bottomed which indicated they were from the continent and had been brought by the first settlers in Britain; quern stones were found and they would have been Roman, as would have been the remains of a cart and Roman pots. 

There were two Bronze Age barrows circular ditches generally with burials in the centre: a number of skeletons - there had been 7 cremations in and around the East barrow alone and inhumation burials (normally laid on their side and with their knees tucked up under their chins) of an 18 year old woman with a decorated pot dating to 1500 BC, a roan of about 45 and a child of 12; also one skeleton laid on its back which still had an amethyst pendant and could have been Saxon; and then, of course, there was the skeleton, Luke, who dated back at least 2.500 years. There were, too, skeletons of cattle and sheep. Another exciting find was a Bronze Age well, lined with planks the earliest known of in Southern Britain. A coin made in Kent between 100 and 50 BC was found; and another coin dated 210 AD. it is thought that during the Roman Period the area became a low status farmstead site; and the head of an aid (a primitive wood plough) was found it dated back to about 900 BC.

There was, of course, much more; and we look forward to the return of the archaeologists in 2000 or 2001, when we hope there will be more exciting finds to record.

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 October edition of 1997.

Monday 6 June 2022

Photographic History - Village Characters - Henry Babington Smith Plaque 1983

The Vice Provost of Eton College and a Trustee of the Village Hall, Mr David Macindoe, unveils a plaque dedicating the new boundary wall of the Hall to the memory of Henry Babington Smith, who was for twenty years a much loved Trustee and benefactor of the Village Hall. Pictured with Mr Macindoe are Eton Town Councillor Mike Tierney (left) and Village Hall Chairman Jim Burger, and on the right, Henry's brother, Mr Bernard Babington Smith. Following his retirement as a master at Eton College, Henry Babington Smith served the village community in many ways until his death in 1982. During the 1960s he voluntarily kept the churchyard tidy and the grass cut. Only when the task became too great was a committee established to find ways of funding the maintenance. Henry Babington Smith served on this committee too, until his death. The central bed of shrubs in the churchyard is also dedicated to his memory.

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

Thursday 2 June 2022

A Diamond Jubilee Oak on the Common - A Royal Gift from Prince Philip

In 1897, a sapling oak was planted on Common Road, Eton Common (in Eton Wick) to commemorate Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee; the oak, which thrived and is now a splendid specimen, came from the forestry department of Windsor Great Park.

In 2012, the Eton Wick History Group commemorated Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee by planting a young oak some seventy yards from the one referred to above; and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, kindly agreed to let us have a 10' 0" (3 metres) sapling from the Crown Estate.

The Oak Tree planted to commemorate the
Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2012

As I write this, I know that the oak has been set aside for us and we have only to make arrangements to collect it at an appropriate time for planting; but before obtaining suitable transport and agreeing the date for planting, we have first to acquire a steel fence guard to protect the young tree from cattle (it will be planted just inside an area where cattle graze). Our local Councillor, Peter Lawless, has kindly authorised a grant to cover the cost of the heavy-duty metal tree guard. We hope that shortly we will be in a position to announce the date of a formal planting ceremony. 

John Reid Chairman — Eton Wick History Group 

Lord Waldegrave of North Hill, Provost of Eton College
with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Eton Town Council

Lord Waldegrave undertook the ceremonial planting of the Jubilee Oak.