Trying to ‘do their bit’

Food shortages were encouraging people to take up growing heir own fruit and veg.

Food Production.

The Committee of the Crowthorne, S. Sebastian, Finchampstead and Sandhurst Horticultural Society has decided to hold a Fruit and Vegetable Show during the month of October, the idea being to encourage the cultivation of food to the greatest extent possible. For this same purpose the Wokingham Horticultural Society has just been formed and proposes to hold a Show on Sept. 25th.

In this connection the ‘Wolf Cubs’ are trying to ‘do their bit’ on a piece of ground kindly lent to them.

Will anyone send them along a few seeds, but more especially seed potatoes.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P154C/28A/1)


Ladies and younger lads keep the bells going, with energy & zeal

Bellringers reflect on the ways the war had changed their profession.

The annual meeting of this branch took place at Wokingham on Sat. Jan. 19th. A short service was held at All Saints’ Church at 4.30 pm with Intercessory Prayers…

The Rural Dean, Canon G F Coleridge, gave an excellent address, & practical, on the words – “Every man according to his ability” (Acts XI.29). He said he had chosen those words, because they brought home what was being done throughout the country regarding the “War”, at that time, & they should appeal with great force & meaning to those present, as Church Bell Ringers. Many of these, amongst other church officers, had been called to active service abroad, some of them from that branch, of whom some had given their lives for their country, & many ladies & younger lads had taken their places, & kept the bells goings, with an energy & zeal which would always be remembered in the Ringing world!…

The National Anthem was heartily sung at the close…

Tow members had been killed in action during the year. – A Edwards & F Collins, while G Collins was still “missing”, as in last year.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
(for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul) (D/EX2436/2)

War charities registered

The County Council’s War Charities Sub-committee had been busy registering local war charities, ranging from bandage making to Christmas gifts for the armed forces.


Since the last report to the Council the following applications for registration under the War Charities Act, 1916, have been approved, and the Clerk has been instructed to issue certificates and to notify the Charity Commissioners:

No of Cert. Name of Charity Applicant

21 Bracknell War Work Depot (Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild) Mrs Littlewood, Hillside, Bracknell

22 Hanney Xmas Tree Fund for men serving HM Forces H. Leslie Edwards, schoolmaster, Hanney

23 Bracknell Xmas Parcels Fund Canon H. Barnett, Bracknell Vicarage

24 Bradfield District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society C J Haviland, Mead House, Bradfield

25 Bracknell Oaklea Auxiliary Hospital Mrs L A Berwick, Sunny Rise, Bracknell

26 Crowthorne Waste Paper Collection of War Charities Miss H M M Moody, Ferndene, Crowthorne

27 Wargrave Woodclyffe Auxiliary Hospital W. Ryder, The Little House, Wargrave

28 Wokingham Work Guild Mrs H M Lomax, Frog Hall, Wokingham

29 South Easthampstead District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Miss E Monck, Aldworth, Crowthorne

30 Heatherside Auxiliary Military Hospital Miss E Monck, Aldworth, Crowthorne

31 Finchampstead Belgian Refugees S F Smithson, The Old Rectory, Finchampstead

32 Maidenhead Rural North Branch of British Red Cross Society Mrs Carpendale, Pinkneys Green

33 Hungerford Sailors and Soldiers Xmas Parcel Fund E C Townshend, Willows Close, Hungerford

34 Finchampstead Hospital Supply Depot Miss L M Hopkinson, Wyse Hill, Finchampstead

35 Bourton War Hospital Supply Depot Mrs W H Ames, Church Farm House, Bourton

36 Hungerford District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society A S Gladstone, JP, Wallingtons, Hungerford

37 The VAD Red Cross Hospital, Hungerford A S Gladstone, JP, Wallingtons, Hungerford

38 The VAD Red Cross Hospital, Barton Court, Kintbury A S Gladstone, JP, Wallingtons, Hungerford

39 Twyford and Ruscombe War Committee Rev. R W H Acworth, Twyford Vicarage

40 Sonning and Woodley Surgical Requisites Association Mrs C Christie Miller, The Deanery, Sonning

41 Mortimer VAD Hospital Miss F M Wyld, Highbury, Mortimer

42 Waltham St Lawrence Prisoners of War Fund Claude M Warren, Old School House, Shurlock Row

43 Wokingham South Rural District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Mrs A M Western, The Coppice, Finchamapstead

44 Registered in error – subsequently cancelled

45 Ascot Military Hospital Miss Nora Collie, Ascot Military Hospital

46 Wantage District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Miss Gertrude Elliott, Ginge Manor, Wantage

47 Binfield Popeswood Auxiliary Hospital Henry E A Wiggett, White Lodge, Binfield

48 Spencers Wood Local Red Cross Fund Rev. F T Lewarne, Spencers Wood, Reading

49 Faringdon District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Henry Procter, Gravel Walk, Faringdon

EXEMPTION CERTIFICATES (to 7 January, 1917, only)

2 Burghfield Sailors and Soldiers Xmas Parcel Fund H G Willink, JP, Hillfields, Burghfield

3 East Challow Xmas Presents Concert Fund Miss E B Vince, Manor Farm, East Challow

4 Kintbury Xmas Presents Fund Mrs Alice G Mahon, Barton Holt, Kintbury

Report of War Charities Sub-committee of BCC, 20 January 1917 C/CL/C1/1/20)

The war has drawn bellringers closer together

Bellringers pondered the war. Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers was an umbrella organisation for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul.

The annual meeting of the branch was held at Wokingham on Jan. 6th [1917]. Proceedings commenced with Evensong, address, & Intercessions for those engaged in the war, at St Paul’s Church, at 5.30 pm. Some 40 members attended. The Rev. S M Winter, vicar of Wargrave, gave an excellent address, based upon Judges XIV.14, in the course of which he pointed out how out of peril came forth sweetness, out of death a new life, out of dry bones a busy hive of industry, out of a barren field a fruit which shall be sweet to those that come after. There was no one, at that time, but was thinking of the “War”, which had now reached its 3rd year, & no one could foresee when it might end. Out of it had come a new binding & uniting force for the Empire that had made it stronger than ever before. It had given a new value to time, to money, a shame to idleness, selfishness & waste not understood before, & many a new triumph over disease.

We might apply the same sort of lesson to our church belfries. The bells played their part in peace & war. Now silent, might they again ring many a peal of thanksgiving in God’s good time – for the restoration of peace in equity & justice, a peace that should advance God’s Kingdom throughout the world! All had learnt a noble lesson of self-sacrifice from those members of their belfries, who had endured such terrible sufferings, & those who had laid down their loves for King & Country; each member, he hoped, might learn to do his duty, “as unto God, & not unto man”, in a better & higher way. The war had drawn them all closer together both in the Belfry, & outside of it; and so they gave their answer to the riddle, “out of the eater came forth meat, out of the strong came forth sweetness”….

Mr Winter… trusted that the restrictions upon bell-ringing would soon be removed, & joyous peals be forthcoming by reason of a secured peace. The Rev. H M Wallis congratulated the members upon the numbers attending the service, & hoped that some sweetness might accrue, even from the bitterness of the enemies’ hate….

Since their last annual meeting, the Master of the Guild, Rev. C W O Jenkyn, had won the Military Cross.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (D/EX2436/1)

Pictures of the Somme

Finchampstead children had a school trip to see pictures (hopefully not too graphic) of the summer’s big battle.

October 10th 1916

Registers closed 1:15 to allow some of the upper class children to be taken to Reading to see pictures of ‘The Battle of the Somme.’

Finchampstead CE School log book (D/P56/28/10, p. 78)

No men have offered themselves as readily as the bellringers

The annual meeting of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul) paid tribute to bellringers’ contributions to the war effort.

This meeting of the Sonning Deanery Branch was held on Sat Jan 13th. A service of Intercession was held at All Saints’ Church at 5.30 pm. There was a good attendance of men, considering the absence of many men on active service in the war; there were also present several Lady Ringers, who had joined since the war began. The Rector read out a list of those members (37 in number) who had joined HM Forces, including 2 who had given their lives for their country – A M Priest (Hurst) and C Rideout (St Paul’s, Wokingham); G Collins (Sandhurst) reported “missing”.

The Rev. P H Ditchfield gave an earnest & appropriate address. Usually, he said, they met in the atmosphere of gladness & rejoicing at their Festival, but a something, like a muffled peal, seemed to go through their belfries, owing to the war. No body of men had offered themselves so readily & willingly for the sake of their King & Country as had the Church Bellringers. That was but to be expected of men who had been accustomed to place their God, their duty, before ease & pleasure, the cause of right before the cause of wrong. Some of their brothers had made the supreme sacrifice, had given the highest pledge of their love for dear ones & for home. Wonderful it was how again and again the home prayers had helped & sustained them through the dangers & hardships they had been called upon to endure. Let them pray for their brothers who once stood beside them in the belfry tower. The sound of the bells brought courage & hope & confidence to many a troubled spirit. God grant that long before another year dawned they might call their teams together to ring the triumphant peal of victory!…

The Chairman… said he felt sure that the sympathy of members would go to the Bishop of Buckingham (a Vice-President of the Guild) who had just lost a 3rd son in the war.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (D/EX2436/1)

No school Medical Officer should be pressurised to join the army

The local Education Authority was affected by the war in multiple ways, including the use of schools by the army, the decision of teachers to join up, and the thorny question of whether some of the boys should be allowed to take time of school to help on farms.

Higher Education Sub-committee
Evening and Technical Schools

Letters have been received from the Eastern and Southern Commands asking whether the Committee were prepared to offer instruction in certain specified subjects for troops in these Commands. Similar instruction has been provided by the County Education Authorities of East and West Sussex.

The Sub-committee recommend that, as far as possible, assistance should be given to the Military Authorities, and the secretary has been instructed to report on the matter to the Committee at this meeting.

This Institution is still in the hands of the Military Authorities for use as a Hospital.

School Management Sub-committee
Up to 1st March, thirty-three Teachers from the Elementary Schools of the County had joined H M Forces…

In reply to a letter, the Board of Education have replied that they do not consider that teachers who are absent on Military service can be regarded as forming part of the staff of the school for the purposes of the Code. The Board expect Authorities to make every effort to comply with the requirements of the Code by providing a suitable and efficient staff for their schools and by maintaining them in a state of efficiency. Should it not be possible to obtain the services of a qualified teacher, the Board are however prepared to exercise the discretion reserved to them under the Code and to take into consideration the employment of unqualified teachers appointed on supply.

During the quarter the following schools have been used by the Military Authorities for billeting troops for short periods: Shinfield CE, Shinfield Three-Mile-Cross, and Finchampstead.
The Hungerford Technical Institute (Special Subjects Centre) has also been requisitioned as a Red Cross Hospital since 2nd Fenruary. The Sub-committee have arranged for the Manual Instruction to be taken at the Council School but the Cookery and Laundrywork Classes have necessarily been abandoned for the present.

By-Laws and Attendance Sub-committee

A circular letter has been received from the Board of Education stating that they have been informed by the War Office that there is at the present time an urgent need for more medical men to staff the additional hospital accommodation needed to meet the requirements of the large forces now being placed in the field. The Board of Education has been asked to facilitate the volunteering of officers of the School Medical Service for hospital work. so far as the Board are concerned, they feel that they can give but one answer to an application of this kind. They do not suggest that any pressure should be brought to bear on any particular officer to volunteer for service, but, should any officer desire to volunteer the Board would raise no objection to his doing so, even though his temporary absence may cause dislocation of the School Medical Service. They have no doubt that Local Education Authorities will regard the matter in the same light and will grant leave of absence on terms as will not involve any loss in his salary, status or tenure….

The Sub-committee recommend that leave of absence be granted to either or both of the Assistant School Medical inspectors if they wish to volunteer. They will consider, at their next meeting, the steps to be taken for carrying on the essential parts of the work if either of the Medical Officers volunteer…

School Attendance
The Sub-committee have considered the question of sanctioning absence from school of boys over 12 years of age to take up farm work in places where there is a shortage of labour due to the war.

They have passed the following resolution:

That no general rule for dealing with cases of employment of boys between 12 and 13 be adopted; but that where application is made, particulars be submitted by the Attendance Officer on a special form prepared by the Secretary; and that the Secretary be given power to grant permission (temporary) subject to the approval of two members of the Sub-committee….

The Board of Education have issued a circular letter in which attention is called to the statements made in the House of Commons by the President of the Board of Education indicating the conditions which, in the view of the Government, should be satisfied before the Local Authority excused children from attendance at school for the purposes of agricultural employment. The conditions are as follows:
1. The employment of children of school age should be regarded as an exceptional measure permitted to meet a special emergency, and should only be allowed where the Authority are satisfied that no other labour is available, and in no case should children be excused attendance at school if older children who are under no legal obligation to attend school are available.
2. In considering the available supply of labour, the Authority should satisfy themselves that all reasonable efforts have been made to secure adult labour, e.g. by application at the Labour Exchanges and especially by the offer of adequate remuneration.
3. Every case should be considered on its merits, and there should be no general relaxation of By-laws.
4. The employment should be of a light character and suitable to the capacity of the child.
5. Permission, if given at all, should be given for a definitely limited period only.
Up to the 31st march the number of boys between 12 and 13 who have been excused from attendance at school to take up agricultural employment was 41.

Reports of sub-committeees to Berkshire Education Committee, 24 April 1915 (C/CL1/1/18)

Hurst ladies take up bellringing

One area of local life to be affected by the war was the sound if church bells. The Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul) noted changes – including the use of women – at their annual meeting at St Paul’s Church, Wokingham, on 2 January 1915.

The Hon. Sec…. stated that 24 ringers in the branch had joined the colours. Of these, 9 were from Hurst; meanwhile a band of 8 ladies had started in the parish to fill up the gap, & were making good progress, under the tuition of the late, & present, foremen. These ladies met with a warm welcome from the ringers, & were formally & duly elected at this meeting as members of the Guild….

The Chairman… expressed a hope that Peal ringing should be kept in abeyance during the war, but ringing practice, & for Sunday services, be continued as usual.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (D/EX2436/1)