Wednesday 31 August 2022

Photographic History - Agriculture - The Village Blacksmith

 The village blacksmith. 

This is believed to be blacksmith Arthur Gregory (left) with Charlie Benham, which would date the photo as early 1920s, as Jack Newell became the village blacksmith in the mid-1920s. The forge was located in Wheelwrights Piece, across the common brook opposite the Greyhound public house. It was a favourite place with the village children for spending a few hours watching the blacksmith at work. The lads helped with bellowing the fire and other odd jobs, while the girls could get steel hoops made for a penny. 

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

Monday 22 August 2022

Tough Assignment - John Lane

John Lane was born at Maidenhead about 1850. It would seem his family were not Methodists and he was not converted until he was in his thirties. By then he was living in Eton Wick at Hope Cottages. At the time of the census in 1881 he was married to Sarah and had two young children but soon after this Sarah must have died, for it was his second wife, Emily, a member of the Queens Street Chapel who brought John into the faith. 

Almost certainly he became a member of that church, and perhaps it was here that he first met Annie Tough. This we shall never know, nor quite when or how he became involved in the struggle to found a chapel in Eton Wick. We are in no doubt, however, that he did become part of the band of workers and in 1886 he helped to build the chapel as master carpenter employed by Henry Burfoot. He was one of the original eight trustees and the first assistant society steward, a post that in later years was called chapel steward. 

For many years he was also Superintendent of the Sunday School, a circuit steward and almost every year from the opening of the chapel to his death in 1913 he represented Eton Wick on the circuit committee. He was often the circuit representative at district meetings, a very active lay preacher and a temperance worker who helped to found the first Band of Hope at the chapel. The surviving records don't reveal the many other chapel activities in which he was concerned and he remains a somewhat shadowy figure. Without a doubt he was one of the strong men behind Mrs Tough and her drive and enthusiasm to build a chapel and society at Eton Wick.

Commemorative plaque to John Lane 

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.


John Lane married his first wife Sarah Bowyer in the third quarter of 1874, and they had five children: Mary, Arthur, Harry, Edith and Frank.

She died in the first quarter of 1890.

He married his second wife, Emma during the final quarter of 1890 and they had a daughter, Helen. The 1901 census records that the family were living in Fern Cottage, Boveney.

These notes can be made by the readily available records that are now accessible online. In 1986 when Tough Assignment was published the records of births, deaths and marriages along with the census after that year were not available to the historian and author, Dr Judith Hunter.

Tuesday 16 August 2022


BESIDES mentions of the plague in 1603 and 1605, and of a lease granted by King James I. of several houses in Eton street, very little seems to. be known of the town for the first forty years of this century.

Its growth had probably been checked by two causes, namely, the pulling down of so many houses to make room for the building and the extension of the College, and further, the increasing importance of New Windsor. At any rate, the weekly market seems to have dropped out of existence. 

But a new industry was started under the Provost, Sir Henry Savile, which although intended mainly for the benefit of the College, and to meet the growing demand for learning, must indirectly have affected the town, and given work to its inhabitants. This was the setting up of a printing press in the buildings which had served for men's almshouses in Henry VI.'s reign. This site is now occupied by Savile House in Weston's Yard, or 'the Stable Yard', as it was then called. 

In the reign of Charles I. there was a little temporary stir. A regiment of soldiers was quartered in the town, contrary to the privileges granted to the College by Henry VI. A remonstrance was at once sent to the Duke of Buckingham, then Lord-Lieutenant of the county, pointing out the inconvenience caused to "the youth repairing to the Schole and lodging in the towne, with whom such companie doo not well comport.

It was towards the end of this reign, during the Civil War, that there was an alarming report that Essex and his levy of London apprentices were marching by Windsor towards Newbury. This report led to Windsor bridge being destroyed. At that date, the only other bridges were at Staines and Maidenhead.

As to the Church, the only changes noticed were the introduction of altar rails, under the order of Archbishop Laud, and in 1613 the erection of an organ beneath one of the windows. 

Archbishop Laud, whatever his faults, saw the real greatness of the English Church in its two-fold character, as at once Catholic and Anti-papal, and in its double appeal to Scripture and History. But his over-zealous enforcement of stern discipline, while it had the effect he desired of reducing the Puritan party to outward conformity, increased the bitterness of their spirit, and led to his own fall and execution, as well as that of King Charles I. It enabled his enemies to strike, what seemed likely to prove a deadly blow, at both Church and Monarchy. 

Cromwell and the Long Parliament were now in power. For the next seventeen years Church people had a sad time of it in Eton, as elsewhere. 

Early in 1643, an order came to the College for-bidding the wearing of surplices in the Church as "against law and the liberty of the subject." 

In December of the same year instructions were given to Colonel Venn, who had already displayed his zeal by destroying the monuments and pictures in St. George's Chapel, to do the same in the Church at Eton. 

Then the Provost was deposed, and compelled to fly to the Continent, and a layman, Francis Rouse, afterwards Speaker in the House of Commons during the famous Barebones' Parliament, was appointed in his place. 

The choir was disbanded, and the use of the Prayer Book was forbidden under heavy penalties.

A book called the Directory of Public Worship was ordered for use instead, and a special Catechist was appointed to instruct the youth of Eton and Windsor in what was accounted sound doctrine.' 

The Collegiate and Parochial Church of Eton was now first called the Chapel, and the arms of the Commonwealth were put up in a conspicuous place, and the Common-wealth banners adorned the walls. 

As some result of the prevalent teaching of those days, it is noticeable that from 1653 to 1661 no children are recorded as baptized in the parish. 

Instead of baptisms, the date of birth only is recorded in the Register, and for two or three years marriages were performed by Captain Robert Aldridge, "a Justice of the Peace of the Commonwealth according to a late Act of Parliament made concerning marriages." 

It appears also that the banns of marriages were published by the Registrar appointed for the parish, sometimes in the Parish Church, but more often on three market days in three several weeks, between the hours of eleven and two, in Colnbrook market². This must have been at that time the nearest market in the county. 

Provost Rouse, the Speaker, died in 1659, a few months after Oliver Cromwell, and was buried at Eton. His burial is registered as that of " the Hon. Francis Lord Rouse." He left one good legacy to the place. The fine elms in the Playing Fields are said to have been planted by him. 

The next Provost and Rector was an Independent Minister, formerly one of Cromwell's Chaplains, but he only held office about a year, and then prudently resigned it. 

For fifteen dreary years, till the death of Cromwell, the Church of England remained in a state of suspended or stifled animation; its life still remained, but all out-ward signs of it were suppressed under heavy penalties. Then came what is known as the Restoration, and once more the ancient Constitution of the country was restored, and the ancient Church revived, although it was long before it threw off the effects of the crisis through which it had passed. 

Once again Eton had a proper Rector, a clergyman being appointed Provost, who was brother of the famous General Monk. Presently signs of reaction showed themselves. The banners hung by Lord Rouse were torn down from the walls of the Church, and the book of Common Prayer again came into use. In December 1660 a notice was issued that the service would be held at ten o'clock each morning and at four in the afternoon. Holy Communion was to be administered at the three great festivals and on the Sunday after Michaelmas³.

The Choristers were also reinstated, and surplices again worn at all the services. An Act of Parliament was passed to entitle those who had been married by Justices of the Peace to such legal advantages as then belonged only to those who were married according to the rites of the Church. 

In 1647 and 1662. there seems to have been another outbreak of the plague in Eton. In the former year seven burials appear in the Parish Register =died P. A pre-caution, taken by the College authorities to check its spread among the boys, must have helped the tobacconists' trade in the town. In a diary of a few years' later date occurs the following : " Even children were obliged to smoak—and I remember that I heard formerly Tom Rogers, who was yeoman beadle, say that when he was that year a school boy at Eaton, all the boys of the school were obliged to smoak in the school every morning, and that he was never whipped so much in his life as he was one morning for not smoaking."⁴ A pest-house for the reception of patients was erected in Little Town-piece. 

This visitation of the plague seems to have led to much distress in the town, for in 1677 contributions were sent from various places (from Chatham Lr Is. 8d. among others) for the relief of the inhabitants of Eton. A note to this effect in the register of Chatham Church led in the last century to a request being made to Eton to make a return contribution and help Chatham in some Church work. 

In the Eton Parish Register for 1686 to 1688 there appear the names of fifty-four parishioners who were "touched for the evil," as it was then called. 

From the days of Edward the Confessor to Queen Anne, it was the common belief that the King had power to cure certain skin diseases, which are nowadays treated at special hospitals, and there seems to be little doubt that, partly aided by the force of imagination and belief in this power, frequent cures were effected. 

The `touching' was always accompanied by a religious service, which under the title of prayers for the healing' or at the healing' is to be found in Prayer Books of the reigns of Charles I. and II., James II. and Anne. 

A Gospel was read, generally St. Mark xvi. 14, and those who were presented for healing knelt before the King, who "laid his hands on them and put the gold about their necks," while the Chaplain prayed for a blessing on the act. 

The date of these records in the register agrees with the apparent revival of this custom by a proclamation in 1683, ordered to be published in every parish, specifying certain seasons for these public healings. 

The revival was probably partly due to a desire to restore the King's popularity after the Civil War. The practice was discontinued when the Georges came to the throne.

There is also a curious entry among the burials, "On Sept. 2, 1678, Elizabeth Worland, buried in wollen only, no affidavit within 8 days according to the Act." 

This refers to a law which discouraged the use of wool for such purposes. 


1 Domestic State Papers, Charles I. 

2 There are eight such publications recorded. 

3 In the better days of the Reformation, the Church did all it could to encourage frequent Communion both among the clergy and the people, as is clear from the fourth rubric at the end of the Communion Office. The Puritanism of Buckinghamshire in th6o ignored this rubric. 

4 Quoted Etoniana p. 57

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.

Tuesday 9 August 2022

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - History of the Council

The meeting of the Eton Wick Village History Group on 4th September 1996 commenced with a surprise: the most welcome announcement from Mr. Kinross that he was going to hand over, for the benefit of the Group's funds, £2,000 which he had received as unexpected compensation as a result of his successful claim (via the local Borough Ombudsman) that the Royal Borough and the Royal County of Berkshire were guilty of maladministration in the matter of industrial development on Common Land in this area. 

Mr. Kinross felt that as, in his opinion, this History Group was the only body which had taken an interest in our Commons (and he referred to the restoration of The Pound) the Group's bank account was the obvious home for this money, which had come in from the Council coffers. He thanked Mr. Frank Bond and his team and asked that they accept the cheque for £2,000 to further the aims and successes of the Eton Wick History Group. 

Mr. Bond thanked him profusely and suggested that perhaps the first purchase from these new funds could be audio equipment, which could be made available to certain other groups in the community. 

Councillor Ronald Clibbon

Mr. Bond then introduced Mr. Ron Clibbon, who was to talk about the 'History of the Local Council'. Mr. Clibbon had served on the Urban, District and Bucks Councils. He said that he had experienced great difficulty in finding any early records, but eventually Bucks County Council found minutes of Eton Council dated 6th May 1897, when the Chairman was Mr. Austen Leigh and another Council was Mr. Somerville.

138 High Street: Council's offices 1890-c. 1957

He told the group that Eton Wick was part of Eton Rural district until 1934 when it was transferred to Eton Urban District Council. At that time Eton Wick had no main drainage, no electricity and no street lighting; electricity wasn't installed until after the Second World War and we had 'open lagoon' sewage until 1954! 

102 High Street: Council's offices after c. 1957

Mr Clibbon took the group through the history of not only the local councils but also the construction of the various Council properties in the area; and he told of the considerable discussion which took place in deciding which trades should have shops in the parade, the terms of their leases and what their rents should be; they decided on a fish shop, butcher, chemist, baker, grocer, newsagent and greengrocer. 

We learned that the Duke of Edinburgh came to open the Stockdales Road Recreation Ground on 14th October 1952. The last major development was Haywards Mead, which was to provide dwellings for older people. 

Mr. Clibbon's talk encompassed considerable information, not only about the running of the Councils but also about the many local people who have done so much for the area in so many ways_ The meeting ended with a show of slides which included many reminders of the past such as the boys' clubs, the Scouts (formed in 1932) and Guides (1933); Harry Wakefield's football club which he formed in 1946, and the cycling club which went round Cornwall in 1949. 

The next meeting of the History group in be on the 23rd October, when John Coke, the Chairman of the Slough & Windsor Railway Society will talk on The Rail Connection into Windsor'. 

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 September edition of 1996.

Friday 5 August 2022

Eton Wick History Group Next Meeting 14th September

Nigel Smales: historian

There is a replacement speaker for the meeting on 14th September when the speaker will be Mr Nigel Smales. His talk is titled ‘Nancy Astor and The Cliveden Set’. 

This will be the third time that he has visited the History Group. His previous talks were ‘Willie and Ettie: The Souls of Taplow Court’ and ‘The Rise and Fall of Skindles’, both were very well received.

Monday 1 August 2022

Photographic History - Village Characters - Mr Edward Littleton Vaughan 1851-1940

This photograph of Edward Vaughan was taken in the 1930s. 'Toddy' Vaughan was a house master in Eton College for 27 years. It was his initiative that bought Agars Plough and Dutchman's Farm for the College. In 1879 he climbed the Matterhorn, and was an enthusiastic horse rider despite sustaining a crippling leg injury in the process. He took a great interest in Eton Wick and was the village's greatest benefactor as a list of his many contributions would testify. He donated land and funds for building the Village Institute (now the Village Hall), gave generously to the Horticulture Society and the Church and its Sunday Schools. He was founder of the first scout troop in the village and its first Scout Master (he was at camp with the troop near Weymouth when the Great War was declared in August 1914). In c1907 he formed the Harriers and Rifle Club, started the Boys' Club in c1935 and was President of the Eton Wick Football Club. He also served on the Council and was at one time its Chairman. 

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