Unable to proceed with the present war memorial design

Inflation meant that Cookham Dean had to postpone its war memorial plans.

The Vicar’s Letter

You will along with the Parish Magazine receive the design of the proposed War Memorial. Circumstances are now so very different from the time when it was first mooted, the cost of material and of labour have so considerably advanced, that the estimated expense of erection is found to be more than £50 beyond what was expected, and I am asked by the Chairman of the Committee (Sir R. Melvill Beachcroft) to state that unless further subscriptions come in, the Committee will be unable to proceed with the present design. It is possible that some have waited to see the design before promising a subscription; in that case I hope they will at once come to the help of the Committee, so that they may be able to complete the work that they were asked to undertake. I might add that the names of men fallen in the War, from whatever cause, would be carved on the panels shewn blank in the design.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

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“Those who have fought for the victory we have obtained have reason to expect better civil life”

A Reading book club discussed social changes to be expected.

7 March 1919

The 298th meeting of the club was held at Soundy’s on Friday 7th March 1919…

The host had followed the old practice of the club (unfortunately too frequently not observed of late) & had prepared a paper. His subject was “Some Labour Problems”, & he commenced by referring to the two International Conferences now taking place in Paris, viz the Peace Conference & the International Labour Conference. The former has spent considerable time in discussing the formation of a League of Nations with a view to securing the Peace of the world so far as warfare is concerned, but Soundy pointed out that there is another Peace that is possibly even more to be desired & one that will have more important influence on the future of the nations, viz Peace in the Labour world, & this is being discussed at the International Labour Conference.

After referring to the cost of the war & to the question of the nations recovering from its effect, both financial & industrial, he stated that this can be done solely by securing peace and cooperation between the parties representing capital & labour. Relations between employers & employed must be improved. Germany has found out that might is not right & the same principle must be brought to the front in the labour market.

To re-establish our own financial position exports must be increased, & to achieve this, the rate of production must be increased. So long as this is done & is kept up the rate of increase in wages does not matter. He referred to the conditions of labour to apply in the future, which are being discussed at the Conference, & also to the evidence given by the Coal Commission in this country. Where the highest wages have been paid the cost of production has been lowest & vice versa. No man will do his best, when he feels he is underpaid, but workpeople must realise that to get better conditions they must become better workmen, & Trade Unions must make their members realise this.

Those who have fought for the victory we have obtained have reason to expect better civil life & to achieve this there must be a better understanding between employers & workpeople, & an effective peace between capital & labour.

An interesting discussion followed & it was unanimously felt that the thanks of the Club were due to the host for his most interesting paper & for having once again kept up the old traditions of the Club.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

Our hearts are all lighter because the War is, we hope, finally closed by this Armistice

Great challenges faced the country after the war.

Dear Friends and Parishioners

The past month has been one of much Parish festivity. Our hearts are all lighter because the War is, we hope, finally closed by this Armistice. Still there are great difficulties to face, and we must pray for courage and wisdom to tackle them in the right spirit and with the right methods. Our interest and our prayers should be enlisted for the Statesmen assembled in Conference in Paris that they may be granted wisdom to re-order and re-establish the Countries of Europe on just and wise lines.

And in the case of our social problems at home, we all need to pray (for practically all of us now have some voice and some responsibility) for the wisdom, industry, and patience needed to realise our present hopes and ideals. We all want to maintain the increased sobriety of the Nation, we all want better homes for the poorer members of our community, we all want to retain a decent wage for all sections of our workers, whether with brain or hand; we all, as Church people, are keen on improving our Educational system, and developing the religious and moral side of it on all Schools; we are all resolved to maintain the sanctity of Christian marriage, and to promote that purity of life which alone will provide an A 1 population (to use the Prime Minister’s phrase), for the working of the great Empire which we hold in trust for God and man.

All this is easy to discuss, but to bring about is a work of almost overwhelming difficulty. Nothing but the Grace of God is sufficient for its accomplishment. Let us remember our hopes and ideals in our prayers, and then do our best in a spirit of comradeship that thinks first of the Church and Nation as a whole, and only secondly of party or class.

The next few weeks are a general time in Church life; we can use them for the study of great questions affecting Church and Nation before the special period of Lenten discipline begins.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar,

C E M Fry

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

A war bonus of 20% on prewar salaries

The porter at Windsor Workhouse had had his job kept open for him.

Windsor
14th January, 1919

Letter from Mr W J Wood, Porter (now on active service) read with reference to Demobilisation and his return to duty.

The Clerk reported that he had informed Mr Wood that the Guardians had by resolution decided to keep his post open for him.

Resolved that no action be taken with regard to the Temporary Officer until the date of Mr W J Wood’s return is known.

Faringdon
14th January 1919

War Bonuses

Letter from Clerk to Guardians Wallingford. His Board has adopted a scale without waiting to call the proposed conference.

It was resolved to determine the question of the bonuses to be allotted to outdoor Officers in this Union independently.

It was accordingly resolved that a war bonus of 20% on prewar salaries should be granted to all the outdoor Officers to date from the 1st October 1918.

Windsor Board of Guardians minutes (G/WI1/26); Faringdon Board of Guardians minutes (G/F1/44)

Gay with flags and laurel leaves

There was a still a need to support the troops.

St Peter’s Notices

The Furze Platt Working Party meets at Furze Croft on Tuesday, 7th and 21st. The Secretary wishes to thank all workers and subscribers for their steady support through these years of war. No further funds will be collected for this society, but workers are asked to continue their efforts a little longer, as we have a certain amount of material in hand for making the garments which are still being asked for by the hospitals; also, Government has given us wool, as knitted garments are very much needed for the army abroad. A full account of the work of this branch of the Society will appear in the February or March number of the Magazine. I believe it will be found that more work has been done this year than ever before, and I am sure people will be glad to know that as the Society asked that games should be supplied for the troops, our December subscriptions provided some footballs and games for 2/4th and 5th Battalions of the Royal Berks and the 187 Light Trench Mortar Battery.

The Bazaar has realised £171 13s 3d. great credit is due to the workers. The Town Hall looked gay with flags, and the stall were most effective, draped with white, with a flag of one of the Colonies or of an Allied Power as a centre piece, and festooned with garlands of laurel leaves made by the boys of Furze Platt…

Now that there are fewer Collections for War Charities, will Church people consider the possibility of becoming supporters of the Free-Will Offering Fund? We, most of us, profess to believe in everybody getting a living wage, and yet this Fund has very few supporters.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

No government has ever had to face a greater task than that which will now come to power

The suffragan Bishop of Buckingham warned there was still a great deal of work to do.

The Bishop’s Message

The war is over and we cannot find words to express our feelings: only in our thanksgiving to Almighty God can we give utterance to the thoughts of our hearts.

The war is over, but the stupendous task remains of repairing the breaches, building up the waste places, and restoring the paths to dwell in. This can be done only if the same spirit is maintained-the unity of effort, the subordination of selfish interests, the wise leadership, the loyal co-operation, the self-sacrifice, the organization, the discipline which has brought us to victory – if this is preserved in peace. The spiritual forces of the whole world must be moved in action. The League of Nations is not a fancy of visionaries; it is a practical possibility which can be realized if Christians unite to bring it about. It is not enough to wish for it, or even to pray for it, we must work for it. Surely here the Church must make its influence felt and not be daunted by difficulties in the way.


The Marriage Laws

We have reason to be devoutly thankful that the Divorce Bill was defeated in the House of Lords, but there are strong forces at work and we must be watchful. It is indeed distressing that at such a time as this there should be such persistent efforts to lower the moral standard – for that must be the effect in spite of the specious arguments. We owe a debt to Lord Parmoor for his vigorous leading.

The General Election

No government has ever had to face a greater task than that which will now come to power. The election will be a great test of the nation’s purpose. Can we put aside all petty issues and party bitterness and selfish aims and unitedly undertake the great work of reconstruction in a manner worthy of a people that has proved itself so great? The prayers which have been such a power in the war can be no less effective in gaining the victories of peace. Here are some questions on which we hope the church may speak with a united voice, for example, the immediate need of dealing with the housing of the people, the improved standard of Wages, the Education question, and the retention of control of the liquor trade. We render humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God fo0r the great and glorious victory, and for the fidelity, courage and devotion of the allied forces.

We pray

For the great Council of the nations which shall determine the conditions of peace.

For the ministry of the crown and those upon whom rests the duty of leadership in restoring conditions of peace in all countries.

For all those who profess and call themselves Christians, that they may act accordingly to their profession.

For the Church, that it may, by wise action, have due influence in the counsels of the nation.

For our troops, that they may be strong to resist the special temptations to which they are exposed.

For the soldiers who are prepared to take Holy Orders.

For the General Election.

For the Central Board of Finance, and for success in the promotion of the Central Fund of the Church of England.

For the revival of Missionary work which has been hindered by the war.

For the Diocesan Board of Missions.

For the C.E.T.S.

For the Diocesan Inspectors.

E.D. BUCKINGHAM.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P191/28A/25)

How the high wages are spent

Good news was tempered with sadness as men continued to die.

Florence Vansittart Neale
19 October 1918

Dear old Christopher died of pneumonia or flu. None of his family there. Up at the Orkneys. On hospital ship “Agadir”….

Had letters from girls. Wonderful entrance into Lille – all inhabitants kissing. Bring sugar & sweets for our soldiers.

William Hallam
19th October 1918

This afternoon I went through the town.… I could not help noticing this afternoon all the people especially women are dressed up to the nines and even then looking into the drapers windows for more clothes. This is how the high wages are spent.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

Bleeding the country

Railway worker William Hallam felt guilty at the higher pay he was getting for working on munitions.

4th October 1918

Wages 4£. 11s. 7d. after 10/6 stopped. As we have a 3/6 a week increase in wages & 9 wks back pay to come. It’s bleeding the country though.

Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

“All news from Russia is horrible, and it is like seeing a criminal lunatic asylum self governed”

Lady Mary Glyn was struggling to cope with the wartime shortage of domestic servants.

30 Half Moon Street
Oct 4 1918

My own darling

I have stayed in bed till luncheon time trying to understand all the dazzling news of these victories, but the fighting is dreadful, and the struggle far from over. How glad you will be to have Armentieres in our hands again.

I am still without a maid. The really good ones can get enormous wages & I must try to get a more settled establishment before I can make anyone comfortable. It is so absurd when everything of domestic bliss hangs upon a nonexistent kitchen girl.

Ressington in today’s Morning Post is good – I hope you see it? – on the American army & methods. All news from Russia is horrible, and it is like seeing a criminal lunatic asylum self governed….

Very own Mur

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/5)

Down with Capitalism, Militarism, and War!

Advertisements for local left wing parties reveal a lesser known aspect to local life including attitudes to the war.

The Independent Labour Party
is an International Socialist Party. Down with Capitalism, Militarism, and War! Up with Socialism and the Brotherhood of all nations!

National Socialist Party, Reading branch.

All unattached SOCIALISTS are invited to join the above branch, the members of which recognise the necessity of the success of the Allied Forces in the present struggle to ensure the early realisation of Democracy and Socialism.

British Socialist Party
is opposed to Imperialism, Capitalism, and war, and is working for an immediate peoples’ peace.

The Voice of Labour Is like one crying in the wilderness. It is crying out against High Prices: it is crying out for more wages by which to pay the high prices: it is crying out against the people who are making the prices high. These people do not heed the cry, they meet the demand for more wages then just put a little more on the goods than they have paid in extra wages.

Give up crying out and do something!

The people must –

Control raw material.
Control production.
Control prices,

For the benefit of the whole community.

The only way – join the Co-Op.
The Stores that are owned and controlled by the Members, and do your duty.

The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers
125 Friar Street

The Reading Branch, in conjunction with many others, is demanding that the Government shall increase the separation allowance to soldiers’ and sailors’ wives and their dependants owing to the increased cost of living; also that discharged men should be more fully represented on Pension Committees and other bodies dealing with such matters. Lord Rhondda on his death-bed sent this message to the Natioanl Baby Week. “The care of the children is a sacred duty.” How can the wives left at home to keep the home fires burning feed and clothe the babies on the present miserable allowance? We want all discharged men to join us to help us in this good work. Also to wake up the Pensions Ministry. A member speaking in the House of Commons said, “There are 2000 clerks at Chelsea dealing with 12000 pension cases weekly. That means one case per day for each clerk, yet it often takes twelve to fourteen months to get a man’s case settled.” Come along to help us to get a move on.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 21, September 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/2)

Statements about food prices not calculated to make people less irritable in these trying times

Rising food prices were a big problem.

Matters of Public Interest

I hear rumours that [the paper] will have to stop publication because of the shortage of paper and the resulting increased cost of production. I understand that the cost has more than doubled, and that the charge of 1d per copy has somewhat decreased sales…

We are informed that it is quite essential that the price of meat should be raised, yet farmers are saying that butchers are making exceedingly large profits at their expense, and there was some rather strong talk only a month or two ago that the price of meat ought to have been two or three pence per pound less, and that bacon could be sold at 1s per pound to 1s 6d and still make a fair profit. These statements, whether true or false, are not calculated to make people less irritable in these trying times, and all tend to justify the dissatisfaction that is felt by workers at the exorbitant prices they have to pay…

Prices soar, and in order to pay them the workers struggle to obtain higher wages, and are abused for so doing, whilst the profiteer goes on his way rejoicing, because in spite of increases of wages, the relative position of the wage earner in this town, whatever may be the case in munitions areas, remains much the same on the average, in spite of increases and war bonuses which have been obtained. The old economic law of Capitalism, supply and demand, continues to operate in spite of the restriction imposed by Acts of Parliament and Departmental Orders, and owing to the comparative shortage of labour, the workers have found their struggle to force wages to some degree of equality with the increase of prices a little easier than in normal times. Still the old class war continues, as in the nature of things it is bound to do as long as the two classes of wage payers and wage receivers continues to exist. There can be only one ending, i.e. the abolition of the wages system in its entirety….

There is no doubt that during this war it would have been better for the workers as a whole (and a higher real wages [sic] would have been obtained) if they had devoted most of their efforts to keeping down prices and reducing profits rather than to securing higher wages and war bonuses.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 21, September 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/2)

“All possible economy must be effected”

The economic cost of the war affected every aspect of life at home.

The Church Accounts, 1917-1918.

Wargrave Vicarage,
April 20th, 1918.

My dear Friends,

We now have the pleasure of publishing the parochial accounts for the year ending at Easter, 1918.

The income for which they account to £623 as against £542 11s. 0d. the increase of subscriptions is partly due to the inclusion of all the Churchyard Accounts of which only part has been included in previous years, but this makes an addition of only £19 12s. 0d., and the remainder is due to increased support. The increased church collections is to some extent attributable to the addition of two Organ Recitals, £20 16s. 6d, but to the very generous response to special appeals, as in the case of the Red Cross, £36 5s. 0d, but the general level of weekly offertories has been distinctly higher and the result is most pleasing.

The increased income is balanced on the expenditure side by additions to salaries and the heavy cost of fuel.

Sir William Cain’s gifts are distributed so widely in the parish that his liberality is known to all and everyone in Wargrave has reason to be grateful for them, they have for instance made the V.A.D. Hospital possible, on its present scale…

A copy of the statement of accounts is to be sent to every subscriber, but no copies are to be included with the parish magazines as in former years, because all possible economy must be effected in printing and paper. The Schedule of Special Offertories will however be inserted in the magazine together with this letter.

I remain faithfully yours,

STEPHEN M. WINTER

Wargrave parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

It is hoped to hand the Lunatic Asylum over as a war hospital

Cost and staffing pressures affected the county Lunatic Asylum at Cholsey.

War Bonuses to the Attendants, Nurses and Artizan [sic] Staff have been increased in view of the existing conditions of the labour market.

Since the commencement of the war 37 male Attendants and other employees have joined the colours. Two of these have been awarded the Military Medal, 7 wounded, and 4 have been killed or have died….

The continued high prices ruling for provisions and all necessary articles has necessitated the raising of the maintenance charges from 11/8 to 12/3 per patient per week. The Committee fear that in view of the prevailing conditions, this figure may have to be revised at no distant date….

At the request of the Board of Control the Committee have agreed to receive, subject to certain conditions as regards the provision of the necessary extra Staff, to receive [sic] a number of patients from another Asylum. This step has been rendered necessary by the shortage of Hospital accommodation, which it is hoped to remedy by handing over the Asylum in question to the War Office for that purpose….

Annual report of Committee of Visitors of the Berkshire Lunatic Asylum, year ending 31 March 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

Soldiers’ pay for digging the garden

Scattered Homes were small children’s homes intended to provide a more homelike atmosphere for children in the workhouse authorities’ care.

26th March, 1918

The following Committee is appointed to consider the application of the Porter and Porteress for an increase in their salary and to consider a scale of war bonuses for the Officers, viz Messrs A. Frogley, W. L. Bennett, J. A. Gauntlett, R. K. Slade, Revd C W H Griffith and Miss Campbell.

It is resolved that L/C Buckley be paid the usual Soldiers pay of 1/8 per day with rations whilst employed in digging the garden at the Scattered Homes.

Minutes of Wantage Board of Guardians (G/WT1/23, p. 305)

Appointed for the period of the War

Workhouse staff demanded higher pay.

26th February, 1918

An application from the Porter and Porteress for an increase in their salaries is referred to a Committee to be appointed at the next meeting who will be asked to consider also a scale of war bonuses for Officers.

A letter is read from the Local Government Board offering no objection to the temporary arrangement made by the Guardians for the nursing of the sick inmates in the Infirmary for the period of the War.

It is therefore resolved that Mrs Eliza Anna Staniland, the Matron, be appointed for the period of the War to take charge of the nursing at the Infirmary.

Minutes of Wantage Board of Guardians (G/WT1/23, p. 299)