Monday 31 October 2022

The Three of Hundreds Chiltern - "Taking the Hundred"

Parish Map of the Chiltern Hundreds courtesy of British History Online

On 21st October 2022 Christian Matheson MP for City of Chester resigned his Parliamentary seat by being appointed by Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the post of Crown Steward and Bailiff of The Three of Hundreds Chiltern, he had "taken the hundred".  

Appointment to the position of Crown Steward and Bailiff of The Three of Hundreds Chiltern is a procedural device to allow Members of Parliament to resign from the House of Commons. Since MPs are technically unable to resign, resort is had to a legal fiction. An appointment to an "office of profit under The Crown" disqualifies an individual from sitting as a MP. Several offices were used in the past to allow MPs to resign, only the Crown Stewardships of the Chiltern Hundreds and the Manor of Northstead are in present use.

The Hundreds were local authority areas that they were set up during the late Saxon period across most of what became England and Wales, Rapes in Sussex the land of the South Saxons and Wapentake in areas of Medieval Scandinavian occupation and Wards in Northumbria and the other northern counties. 

Other MPs who have used applying to the Chiltern Hundreds included John Stonehouse who faked his own death in 1974, lived in Australia for several months and was arrested in Melbourne on 24 December 1974. He was extradited to the UK and convicted on 18 counts of theft and fraud, sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. He resigned as an MP on 27 August 1976 by way of application to become a steward of the Chiltern Hundreds. Another was John Profumo used the same method of resigning his seat in the House of Commons on 6th June 1963. 

The first application to become a Steward was John Pitt MP for Wareham, his application was on 25th January 1751. The most recent is Christian Matheson MP. Since January 1751 there have been 1073 MPs who have resigned their Parliamentary seat by applying to be Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds.

Tony Blair applied to The Three of Hundreds Chiltern and David Cameron chose the Manor of Northstead to leave to Commons after they relinquished their Premierships. 

The interest for the history of Eton Wick is that the Three Hundreds covered the south of Buckinghamshire are Burnham, Desborough and Stoke. The Stoke Hundred included the parishes of Colnbrook, Datchet, Denham, Eton, Fulmer, Hedgerley, Horton, Iver, Langley Marish, Stoke Poges, Upton-cum-Chalvey, Wexham, Wyrardisbury. Eton was initial within the Burnham Hundred.

Eton Wick may still only be a relatively small community it is part of the Chiltern Hundreds that still has a place in the UK's political life.

More details can be found on Wikipedia.

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Meeting Poster for 26th October


REARRANGED Interesting presentation by Nigel Smales at the village hall on Wednesday 26 October 22 at 7.30pm - everyone welcome

Tough Assignment - Mrs Sophie Chamberlain


Mrs Sophie Chamberlain at the age of 92 is our longest serving member, a modest person, but one who has quietly worked behind the scenes for more years than was remembered until we began to write this history. She was born in 1894 in Curlew Cottage in Northfield Road before it was known by this name. Neither of her parents were Methodist. Her father was an active member of the Church of England even serving as sidesman at St John the Baptist. Her mother had been brought up as a Baptist and, since there was no Baptist church in Eton Wick, she worshipped at the chapel and it seems likely that Sophie first attended the chapel as very young child with her mother. However, sometime while Sophie was still small, the family moved to another house on 'the front of the village' (Eton Wick Road) and for a few years she attended the Church of England with her father.

About 1905 the family moved back to Boveney New Town and once again her mother, Louisa Bolton and daughter Sophie became regular members of the chapel congregation. Sophie also joined the Sunday School and still vividly remembers the classes taken by Emily Lane. Three Sunday School Union examination certificates testify that she was a good Sunday School scholar. In spite of being a very shy person, Sophie loved the anniversary services even though it meant standing on a platform in front of the whole congregation and reciting a text or hymn -without a prompt for Mrs Tough did not allow this. To make certain she knew the words one year young Sophie decided to learn them by playing the piano and singing the words. It worked too well, for when Mrs Tough heard of this she 'encouraged Sophie to sing at the service instead of merely reciting.

When the Band of Hope was founded in 1913 Sophie became a member, and enjoyed the weekly meetings especially the hymn singing and reciting, though not always the talks against drinking. She, like the other members, signed the pledge and received her badge. About this time Sophie became a Sunday School teacher in charge of the beginners class. A year later the First World War began and brought Sophie into contact with Len Chamberlain, and at least one of her scholars still remembers his teacher proudly showing him her locket containing her sweetheart's photograph.

Sophie was married soon after the end of the war, living at first with her parents until she and Len moved into their own home in Alma Road. She continued as a Sunday School teacher until her son, Leslie was born, but for about ten years after this her chapel activities were confined to attending services, class meetings and the Sisterhood meetings. Her talent as a pianist, however, had not been forgotten and sometime during this period Sophie became the pianist for the Sisterhood and stand-by organist for the chapel. She fulfilled this role as pianist for nigh on fifty years, not giving up completely until about 1975.

In 1932 Mrs Chamberlain took on the role of chapelkeeper, a job that involved quite a variety of tasks and a considerable number of hours of labour every week. It was of course, her duty to keep the chapel floors clean, to maintain and light the old combustion-,stove and the fire in the schoolroom, to clean the windows and to polish the pews and the pulpit. It was also the chapelkeeper's responsibility to prepare the chapel and hall for each and every service and meeting - putting out the chairs and the hymn books, lighting the copper or boiler for the tea - and tidying the rooms at the end. Such work behind the scenes is often not noticed except when it is badly done, and this was rarely, if ever the case with Mrs Chamberlain, for as she confessed, 'she really loved that little chapel' and keeping it clean was an act of love and joy. At last in 1948, she gave up being chapelkeeper, though not for ever for she again took over the job in 1962 for another stint of nearly twenty years. Even then, at the age of 86 she was unwilling to relinquish all responsibility for the chapel and agreed to serve on the new property committee.

Meanwhile from 1951 to 1974 Mrs Chamberlain served as poor steward, and thus was responsible, or jointly responsible, for preparing the communion table and the bread and wine glasses for the communion service. The money collected at these services was retained by the poor stewards and used to buy fruit and flowers for members who fell ill. In 1974 the title was changed to that of communion steward and under this name Mrs Chamberlain served for another six years, making many welcomed visits to the sick in those years. 

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 17 October 2022


IN the middle of the eighteenth century there was very little life in the Church of England, except among the few who were stirred by John and Charles Wesley, and these for the most part met with but little sympathy from their fellow churchmen. Generally speaking, church worship was cold and dreary, and the sermons preached were dry moral essays. As far as can be gathered, Eton was no exception to this state of things. A tombstone in Old Upton Churchyard has a significant inscription, which reflects on the times. " Here lies the Body of Sarah Bramstone of Eton, Spinster, a person who dared to be just, in the reign of George the Second, obiit Jan. 30 1765, á´‚tat. 77." 

It has already been stated that the Collegiate Church was intended by Henry VI. to serve as Parish Church for the people, as well as the Chapel for the Foundation and School; and had his original design of a spacious nave been carried out, there would have been no need of any other buildings for the accommodation of the townspeople and parishioners. They would probably have had their own nave services, as is the case in some Cathedrals and in Merton College, Oxford. But in the course of two centuries the School; had grown beyond his calculations, and nearly 400 Oppidans had to be accommodated, as well as the King's Scholars. 

The consequence was that the Church was overfilled, and the tradespeople and poorer parishioners, already ill provided for, were little by little crowded out. 

We can easily imagine the results. Many, finding themselves little welcomed, drifted off to Windsor, and a century later Windsor Church was popularly spoken of in Eton as the Parish Church'; others sought spiritual help in those dissenting communities which were then springing into existence, while with many others this unfortunate condition of things was the beginning of indifference and of the entire neglect of common worship. 

At last the evil impressed itself on a member of the College, the Rev. William Hetherington. In his desire in some measure to meet the wants of the townspeople, he built, at his sole expense, a small Chapel of Ease in the High Street, near the entrance of the approach to the present Church. As far as can be learnt, it was a very miserable building, and a very poor substitute for what was still the Parish Church, but it was better than nothing, and no doubt was the means of saving many in the parish from spiritual destitution. This building was consecrated on September 8, 1769, and stood till 1819. At the same time, and probably from the same source, £200 was invested and conveyed to the College for the repairs of this building, and was in 1875 transferred by the College to the Vicar and Churchwardens. The College also undertook to allow a competent provision for a minister to officiate there. This same Mr. Hetherington is note-worthy as the founder of a most useful London charity for the blind. 

The population of the town seems to have further increased somewhat at the beginning of the next century. A census taken in 1811 gives the number in the parish as 2279 ; there were then 314 inhabited houses, 430 families, 272 persons employed in trade, etc., and twenty in agriculture. 

One consequence of this increase was that the first Chapel of Ease became too small, and accordingly in 1819 the Provost and Fellows undertook to rebuild it on a larger scale. The first stone was laid on August 5, and it was opened on October 29 in the next year. The Windsor and Eton Express of November 5, 1820, gives the following report. 

" On Saturday last, the new Chapel at Eton, which has been erected by the liberality of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College, was opened for Divine Service. 

" An admirably appropriate sermon was preached by the Rev. J. B. Sumner (one of the Fellows, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury). The Chapel is a very neat building, particularly in the interior, which is fitted up with great elegance. A most tasteful altarpiece has been presented to their native town by Mr. Ingalton and Mr. Evans, artists, of Eton, which in design and execution is highly creditable to their talent. We understand that a subscription has been raised by the inhabitants for the purpose of marking their grateful sense of their obligation to the College of Eton, by furnishing the Chapel with some handsome Communion Plate."

This report no doubt fairly represented the taste of the day, but those who remember this Chapel describe it as mean and unsightly, both inside and out. Outside, against the east wall, and flush with the street, stood the parish watchman's box. Within there were galleries on three sides, and high pews facing the pulpit, which stood near the west end, so that, except in part of the Communion Service, when it was the custom for the congregation to face east, the backs of most people were turned to the altar. " The tasteful altarpiece " consisted of the Ten Commandments, illuminated, and supported by cherubs. A well-known Etonian of the last generation, then a little boy, William Adolphus Carter, is said to have sat for one of them. 

Until 1832, when a barrel organ was introduced, the hymns were accompanied by a band consisting of several instruments, such as comets, flutes and violins, played by young men living in Windsor and Eton. 

The services (they were but few) were under the care of the Conducts¹ of the College Chapel. The expenses were wholly defrayed by the College, and the worshippers there, as in too many English parishes, grew up in ignorance that it is the duty and privilege of church, people to maintain their place of worship and to contribute to the support of their ministers. 

The Communion Plate mentioned above was presented to the College, and was by them transferred to the parish in 1875. 

The attempts thus made by the College to meet the wants of the town were not however considered satisfactory. The comment of a much respected townsman, made some seventy years ago, probably represents the sense of grievance expressed in the town generally. He writes : " This was very kind indeed, but it placed the townspeople in a false position in regard to the Parish Church, and so they have remained ever since, for in course of time it was supposed that this was the place of worship belonging to the town, and that the College had an exclusive right to the Parish Church." 

The interests of the town and the College also appear in opposition in another matter, and in October 1796 a case was tried at Quarter Sessions at Aylesbury between them. The College had pleaded exemption from the payment of Poor Rate on its property, but the decision was to the effect that the College was rightly liable. Since then it has contributed its share of the rate.

But if sometimes there was a clashing of interests between the residents on the two sides of Barns Pool Bridge, there were also occasions when they fought side by side. 

In 1826 an attempt was made to bring into Parliament a Bill called the Eton Enclosure Bill, which would have done away with those Lammas rights described in Chapter I. By an energetic representation to the Commons, this Bill was defeated on May 1 by a majority of 173. The victory was celebrated in Eton with feastings and bonfires. 

A banner designed for the occasion, preserved for many years by the late John Harding at the " Crown and Cushion," is still in existence and is the property of Mr. H. J. Hetherington. On one side it is adorned with an illuminated inscription: 

The glorious 1st of May 1826. 


On the other is emblazoned: 

May Eton flourish and ever protect her rights. 

Some twenty years later another attempt was made to override these same Lammas rights by Mr. Thomas Hughes, who built two houses on Lammas ground oppo-site Eton Wick. An action was brought against him, and the case was tried at Aylesbury with the result that he was compelled to pull down his houses. This second triumph was also celebrated with rejoicings. 

Later in the century some exceptions were made in cases where the ground enclosed, or the building erected, was for the general benefit of the parish. But this concession was only granted after a unanimous vote of ratepayers, assembled at a public meeting. 


1 Conductitii Capellani, i.e. hired Chaplains. They were ap-pointed by the Provost for seven, and later for ten, years, and were then entitled to certain of the College livings if a vacancy occurred. 

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 10 October 2022

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - An Everyday Story of Farming Folk

On the 16th of September 1998, the Eton Wick History Group heard how, at one time, four of the farms in the village were farmed by Tarrants. Peter Tarrant, who works not on a farm but at the Airport, was the guest speaker. He had spent much time researching his family's history and was able to tell his audience that his family had been associated with farming since the late 18th Century. The origin of the name 'Tarrant' was De Trent' (c.1100); and early Christian names were often Reginald and Ralph. His family tree diagram clearly showed links between the various Tarrants. 

It was most interesting to see maps showing the original layout and names of fields in the area, and to see 'turn of the century' photographs of various farms and cottages and compare them and their surroundings (many Elm trees then) with the way they look today. There were photographs of haymaking in the 1920's; and how nice to see the beautifully thatched round ricks. To see the old threshing machine by the Dutch Barn (in 1948) when the threshers would move in at the appropriate time and sleep in barns wherever they happened to be working. 

To the non-farmers in the audience, it was perhaps a surprise to hear that, in the past, every tenant farmer had to scour his ditches by 30th November, hedges had to be trimmed or layered by let November, animals had to be branded (no substitutes allowed), and farmers were allowed to grow 5 acres of turnips in every 20 acres they farmed. 

We all know now about the Hayward - he was paid 6d. when the cattle were turned out (apparently not until after 6.00 p.m. on 1st May each year) and 4d. per week after that, and no-one was allowed to stop the cattle from grazing. There were about a dozen dairy farmers up until the 1930's and we heard tales of cattle eating wild garlic and subsequent complaints about garlic-flavoured milk! 

Mr. Tarrant was able to outline the history of many of the farms in the area; and not just the farms but also the tracks which run through them, for example the one from our Common Road through the fields to Common Lane at Eton is called 'The Meads'; and if you, follow the Meadow Lane track right through to Boveney where it reaches Boveney it is/was referred to as a turnpike.

During the War, prisoners of war used to work in farms in Eton Wick; and, as a reminder of those times, Mr. Tarrant had brought with him some memorabilia including the head of an anti-aircraft shell, part of an incendiary bomb and some brass cannon cases. He described the posts and trenches in the fields - constructed to prevent glider landings. 

We saw pictures of the 1947 floods and the severe snow of 1963; and heard about Bob Bond's haystack burning down; and the barn which was blown down in 1987, which was also when the roof was blown off Mr. Tarrant's father's cottages. Then there were the chickens; Mr. Tarrant senior had bred chickens for show as well as for egg production - specialising in Buff Orpingtons and Silver Lace Wine Dots. The final photograph was a beautiful sunset - seen beyond some Elm trees. 

Frank Bond thanked Mr. Tarrant for his fascinating talk and highlighted the 9th December meeting when each member is asked to bring one item of interest for a 'Members Exhibition'. 

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 1996.

Monday 3 October 2022

Photographic History of Eton Wick and Eton - Agriculture and Farm Houses - Steam Threshing


The top photograph on the opposite page shows a steam traction engine driving a threshing machine in front of Saddocks Farm Cottages in the 1930s. The main threshing contractors employed by Eton Wick farms were Wards of Egham and Poulters of Burnham. The contract staff often slept rough in the farm barns. Until the advent of combine harvesters, corn was cut and tied in sheaves by binders. 

To protect them from the wet until they could be collected, the sheaves were stacked in 'stooks'. Stooks comprised of eight or so sheaves stood on their butts, the rounded side to the weather. 

Reg. H Tarrant

Reg. H Tarrant of Crown Farm is engaged on this activity in the above picture, taken probably in the 1950s. The sheaves were then collected and built into ricks, often on the actual corn field, sometimes back in the farm, until the corn could be threshed and the straw baled.

Skilfully built and thatched ricks were a common site in South Field along the Eton Wick Road and on the farms. The photograph below shows Reg. J A Tarrant of Saddocks Farm as a toddler c1930 in Saddocks rick yard; probably these ricks were thatched by Reg's elder brother Cyril. (The two Reg's were first cousins, sons of George and Arthur, respectively). 

Reg. J.A. Tarrant

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