Monday 9 January 2023

Tough Assignment - The Chew Family

When Mrs Tough died in 1930, the chapel lost that driving force which had largely been responsible for it being built. The work she had started then became the responsibility of those whose lives she had influenced. One family particularly would be prominent in that work spanning the next fifty years. In human and spiritual work, the Chew family were remarkable. Their example and influence on others over many years has been considerable and far-reaching.

The Chews were largely responsible for keeping the chapel active during difficult years, and but for their dedication to the Christian work, and great love for people, along with a few others in the Eton Wick community, the chapel might not have survived. Anyone who has known them cannot help but admire those qualities that have communicated something special.

On the 14th March 1986, Joyce Chew, now Mrs Stevenson, related some of her memories of her parents and brother and sisters.

Her father, Archibald Barrows Chew, came from BryanstonSquare in West London. His parents came to live in Eton Wick in 1908. He was educated at the Regent Street Polytechnic and was a good friend of its founder and headmaster. Quintin Hogg, the grandfather of the late Lord Chancellor - Lord Hailsham. On Sunday afternoons Quintin Hogg would give talks to 'his boys' on Christianity, and in 1900 he published a book, 'The Story of Peter, the Disciple'. A copy of that book was given to Archie Chew, and inside the cover was written, "To my dear Archie with love from Q.H. Nov. 1900". Such seeds sown in those early years were to affect Archie Chew's life and be mirrored in the lives of his family and many others in the years ahead.

In 1984 when the present Lord Chancellor was speaking at St. Georges Chapel Windsor on 'Morality and the Law', he was shown this book inscribed by his grandfather, and placed an entry beneath it - eighty-four years later.

Archie Chew's parents lived at Busane, on the site where Bryanston now stands. Busane was owned by Mrs Tough. It was while visiting his parents at Eton Wick that Archie met Miss Annie Frances Moore, known as Dolly. She was a strikingly attractive young lady. When Archie Chew finished his schooling, he went into business and spent his whole working life as a wholesale woollen merchant in London's Golden Square. Annie Frances Moore was born in August 1886 and was the fourth of six children, and the first daughter of Alfred Moore. She lived at Bell Farm until she married, having been fostered by Annie and Charles Tough. In the same way that Archie Chew's life had been influenced and directed along Christian paths, so Annie Moore was influenced by the Toughs, and it was to be this unique combination of Christian principle and example that would help sustain the chapel continuously for a period of time spanning more than seventy years.

In 1910 Archie Chew and Annie Moore were married in the chapel, and moved to Hanwell, where their first two children - Mabel and Sylvia were born. They then moved to Chalvey Park at Slough, where Joyce was born in 1916. While at Slough, Archie and Annie attended and assisted at the Methodist Church in William Street. They finally moved to Eton Wick in 1918 where their last two children were born, Clifford in 1917 at Bell Farm, and Miriam at Brookside in 1919.

Miss Winifred Jewel moved in with the Chews when Miriam was a baby, and this help enabled Mrs Chew to devote more time to the chapel. Annie had been Sunday School Superintendent while Mrs Tough was alive and when Mrs Tough died, Annie Chew took over the chapel reins and became the new driving force for Christianity.

Archie Chew's faith was much simpler than that of his wife. If the children were found doing something wrong, their father would get them to pray about it, as he would pray for finding something like a lost key. Archie found his strength through prayer. In the later years when the regular Chapel Prayer Meetings began at 6 pm, anyone hearing the prayers of Sylvia, Joyce, and Harry Cook, found themselves in the engine room of our Christian experience and faith. It was this simple faith and belief in praying about all things that was the foundation and strength of Archie Chew, and his example reflected onto his children, and from them onto many others. In contrast Annie Chew's faith was much more questioning and theological, complementing her husband's.

Archie Chew did not have a strong physical constitution, and always had diet difficulties. This weak constitution prevented him from doing much physical work, and he encouraged his children to help with gardening etc. He worked long hours in London arriving back home late most evenings. Sometimes he was away for several days on business - an absence he disliked. The children always enjoyed Bank Holidays with their father home, for he was a happy man when with his family and could quickly throw off business worries. He continuously emphasised good morals and principles.

Businessman, family man and chapel leader, Archibald Chew still found time to work for the wider community. He served on the Board of Governors of Dorney School, and as a Councillor on the Eton Urban District Council. With John Smith, the surveyor, he was largely responsible for the inclusion of the excellent open space in Moores Lane. People in Eton Wick village are indebted to such vision. He was also the first chairman of the Eton Wick Allotment Association.

In 1938 Archie Chew retired from business, but when war broke out in 1939, he soon became involved in war work. He was responsible for the collection of such materials as old iron and paper, which were stored in the cottages which then stood at the corner of Bell Lane and Alma Road. Mr and Mrs Chew became the Evacuation Officers for the village, a difficult and time-consuming job, particularly if the children were not happy in their allotted homes.

Archie Chew died in 1943 after a long illness and several operations. His family knew that he was unlikely to recover, and all believed that he did not know himself how seriously ill he was. But even unknown to them he would discuss his health problems with his young friend Harry Cook long before he died. During his last days in Edward VII Hospital at Windsor, Archie asked for all his family to join him in prayer, and openly prayed that he would not be long for this world - the first indication to them that he knew he was dying. Despite this tragic loss to the family and the Eton Wick Community, Annie Chew carried on positively, and was elected as a Councillor, taking over from her husband.

Meanwhile their eldest daughter, Mabel, had become a civil servant, and in 1936 married Dr William Templeman, a brilliant scientist with ICI, who pioneered research into chemicals for weed control and increased crop productions. He was also a Methodist local preacher and circuit steward in the Windsor and Maidenhead Circuit. For his researches he received the OBE.

The second daughter Sylvia, worked for the Prudential Assurance Company as a sick visitor making reports on claimants. She was engaged to be married for a time, but this was broken off, and she continued her work and to help in the task of running the home and assisting her mother. Her lob with the Prudential was eventually taken over by the Civil Service.

The third and fourth children, Joyce and Clifford, both joined ICI, and during this time Clifford became best man at the wedding of his friend Bernard Stevenson. Many years later after becoming a widower, Bernard was to remarry in 1984, his former best man's sister, Joyce Chew.

When war broke out in 1939, Clifford joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve as a pilot, and completed a tour of operational duty with Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. He was commissioned in 1942 and was entitled to wear the ribbon of the 1939/43 star. In June 1944 Clifford was awarded the Air Force Cross for a deed of remarkable bravery in bringing an aircraft which was on fire safely to the ground. By so doing the whole crew was able to jump clear without injury.

Clifford Chew

Joyce joined the Wrens in 1942 as a transport driver. Miriam the youngest, went nursing at Reading's Royal Berkshire Hospital.

In March 1945 Mrs Chew received the devastating news that her son was missing. He was 27 years of age. Flight Lieutenant Chew was shot down while flying paratroops across the Rhine. The other members of his crew managed to get clear of the aircraft, but he was unable to bale out in time and his body was afterwards recovered by British troops and given fitting last honours.

Annie almost lost her faith. She had been so positive that God would take care of her son and felt let down that He had failed her. During this critical and very stressful time, Annie was well supported by Sylvia, and without the great support and strength of character of her fine daughter, she may not have regained her faith. Clifford's death was later confirmed, and the returning of his wallet and New Testament sealed his passing. He is now buried in a war grave in Luxembourg.

After the war Joyce left the Wrens and in 1946 returned to ICI and again took up work with the chapel. On the death of her father Sylvia had taken over the jobs of Trust secretary and treasurer, and now on being demobbed Joyce took them over from Sylvia. Miriam returned to nursing after working for a short period for ICI and the Great Western Railway. She later married John Harrison and moved to Taunton in Somerset.

In the 1950s Mrs Chew moved to London to help look after relatives - Uncle Russell (Mr Russell Smith) and his wife. Sylvia moved to Oxford to work for the Civil Service. Only Joyce remained at Bryanston. Later in the 1950s Mrs Chew, Uncle Russell, Sylvia, and Miriam, all returned to Bryanston to re-unite the family.

In 1964 Mabel died after suffering a stroke and two years later Mrs Chew died after much worrying about her eldest daughter. Dr Bill Templeman died in 1968.

The work of the chapel however, had to continue, and Sylvia, Joyce and Harry Cook, undoubtedly kept the chapel going by their personal commitment and Christian leadership from the 1960s onwards. Sylvia and Joyce were-both treasurer and secretary of the chapel over a period of at least forty years. For more than twenty of these Joyce was also organist, having had only two years tuition. Both daughters were involved with the Sunday School from a very young age. Mrs Tough encouraged Joyce into Sunday School teaching when she was only twelve. Today Joyce is President of the Chapel Sisterhood and President of the Circuit Womens Fellowship. Sylvia was the Chapel Overseas Mission's Secretary for many years, and it was largely her inspiration and leadership that earned such good support for this work. Between 1966 and 1980 Sylvia was also a superb President of the Chapel Sisterhood (Womens Meeting), started by Mrs Tough some eighty years earlier. She was a supreme organiser and visitor, totally caring, and the most unselfish person you could ever meet. She was very like her father.

When Sylvia died suddenly in her little cottage next to the chapel, it was felt by the whole community, and the number that attended her funeral was a testimony of the affection and respect in which she was held. She was a very rare lady.

The 1960s and 1970s were the years of the garden parties at Bryanston for Missions, summer mystery drives ended at Burnham Beeches with 'Bangers and Mash', and community singing among the trees on beautiful Summer evenings. The sound of hymn 414 still rings in the mind - "We thank thee Lord for this fair earth'.

When one looks at the early years of the Chew family it is not surprising that the Christian influence of the parents made deep and lasting impressions on the children as they lived out their discipleship within their own family. Thus, was sustained a Christian influence in this village that has lasted more than a hundred years - from the coming of Mrs Tough in 1877, the birth of the chapel and Annie Moore in 1886, until today and beyond for Joyce is still with us. She still plays the organ - a prayer in sound - and is a much-loved church steward. In mother and daughter, we have a unique hundred-year link in the life of this chapel.

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.

Mabel, Sylvia, Clifford, Miriam, Joyce, 

Archibald and Annie Chew.

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.

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