Upton Jottings 1930 – 1974

Compiled by Elsa Wilkins with additions by Hugh Kearsey

Preface

It had been intended to produce a history of Upton for the “Upton Weekend” in 1995, but the discovery of much more information at the last moment, in particular the Parish Diary kept by the late Rev. Hooper from 1860 to 1894, made that task impossible. This booklet has been produced as an interim measure to help to provide funds for a much more detailed historical account. It is a compilation of research notes taken from the Parish and Church records, Newspaper and Village Newsletters, and a pamphlet written by Elsa Wilkins entitled “50 Years of Upton”.

1925 was the start of big changes in Upton with the sale of the Humphrey’s Estate. However, the Church records held locally started in 1930 and that made a convenient starting point for this account. This account finishes in 1974 which was the year Upton became part of the new Oxfordshire and that began a new period of change which will be chronicled later.

As an introduction to her pamphlet in 1980, Elsa Wilkins wrote:

During the last few years I have accumulated, through my connections with the Parish Council, many of the records of Upton during the last 50 years or so. Records such as these hold a tremendous fascination for me and I wondered if there were other people in the village who might be interested in events of the last 50 years. The records are not absolutely complete for one reason or another but they are sufficient to build up a small picture of life in Upton in days gone by. So I decided to set down on paper just a few of the happenings over the years – some funny, some sad, but all of them very real and human. For some of the older residents, perhaps it would be a trip down memory lane, and for the newer residents, how a small village has managed to survive, retain its identity and not be “gobbled up” by any of the large neighbouring places.

True there are many things we no longer have, like the school ( but how lovely that there is still the building and intact) and the railway station, ( although the Station House is there, as a pleasant reminder of days gone by). Nevertheless there are lots of things we do have; the shop (what would we do without it)*, the Churches, the Village Hall, Recreation Field (how many people in large cities would love to see even a blade of grass). Then there is the beautiful countryside all around; the footpaths, walks and the gentle stream. But most of all there is the community spirit, and whilst that might not be apparent all the time, most of us would agree it is there just the same. We have so much, but in the furious pace of life today, do we ever pause long enough to appreciate it all? I wonder.”

These sentiments are still true in 1995.

* Unfortunately the shop closed in March 1995

1930

The beginning of a new decade, new ideas, and maybe changes in Upton, or maybe not – we shall see.

The school was still open then, with 22 boys and 17 girls on the register, plus two teachers. As there was no village Hall, the schoolroom was used for Parish Meetings, Parochial Church Council and any other meetings.

There wasn’t a Parish Council in the village, only Parish Meetings which were held when necessary during the year, with the Annual Parish Meeting in March, just as it is to-day. In 1930 12 people attended the Annual Meeting – exactly the same number attended in 1979. – things don’t change much, do they? The Minutes in 1930 consisted of six sentences, recorded on a page in a notebook measuring 4″ by 7″ in 1979 the record was on two pages of a book 8″ by 12″. Maybe things do change – we say more! The six sentences covered the approval of the previous minutes; election of Chairman; election of representatives on the Rating Committee; repairs to the bank of the path leading to the Old Post Office. This was at the Reading Road end of what is now Stream Road, and the footpath which runs from High Street to Stream Road is still known as Old Post Office Lane – its official number is 4. The other two items in the minutes were, a request for a “notice board” warning motorists of the school and approval of the accounts for the year. The balance at the end of the year was the magnificent sum of £4/6/0d, and this was obviously considered to be a small fortune, as there is no mention of applying for a Precept for the coming year.

During the year a scheme for the collection of household refuse was proposed by the Wantage Rural District Council, and at a Parish Meeting in May it was decided to adopt the scheme and suggest a suitable site for tipping. A contractor was to submit a price for collection. Many years on refuse collection still figured in the Parish Council minutes.

In October a small committee was set up to discuss the possibility of a piped water supply for Upton, and the speed with which this was effected was quite incredible. Every house could boast its own tap by 1956.

1930 was a difficult but momentous year so far as St. Mary’s Church was concerned. The Rector, Rev. Moore died after a long illness and because of the shortage of Clergy, it had been decided in 1929, but would not take effect until 1930, that there would be a Union of the Benefices of Upton and Blewbury. Upton had lost its independence in 1722, but regained it in 1862. The official reference states “In 1862, by Order of the Council, dated 7. 6. 62, the Chapelries of Upton and Aston Upthorpe were separated from Blewbury, and formed into a separate benefice, which in 1866 on 3 April, was declared a Vicarage.” “The Vicar is de jure Rector of Upton, having possessed since 1870, the whole of the rectorial tithes of that place” so it says in a later document.

So in 1930 the threat of once again losing its independence provoked tremendous opposition to the proposed Union, and even despite unsuccessful appeals, Upton continued to fight against it. Indeed so strong was the feeling that 110 signatures were sent to the Bishop of Oxford. This must have been almost all the adult population of the village, many of whom were not on the Church Electoral Roll, which then only totalled 30. Eventually, through a Solicitor, an Appeal was made to the Privy Council and this won the day. Well done Upton – top marks for sheer dogged determination and tenacity.

For those people interested in statistics, there were eight members of the Parochial Church Council and seven people in the choir. The Parish Quota or “share” (the amount which the Church has to pay annually to the Diocese) was 15s.0d, today it is over £2000.

1931

1931 was the year the Rev. Dewas Chitty came to Upton as Rector. He was Rector until 1967, and lived at The Rectory (now Ridgewood Grange) in Chilton Road. He died in 1973. His wonderful personality and character, and his complete dedication to Upton shines through all the correspondence about him.

The first mention of the possibility of a Sunday School was in 1931 – was this the Rev. Chitty’s idea we wonder? There seemed to be also many things in the Church which needed attention – four new lamps were needed (electricity in the Church was still seven years away), a new heating furnace was required, and the question of whether the organ should be replaced by a reed organ? In the event, the organ was repaired at a cost of £10.

During the year efforts were being made to get Oxford Bus Company to run a bus service through Upton and Blewbury and then to Wallingford. Now a good deal of time and effort is exerted by the Bus Company trying to take it away!

It was decided after all not to adopt the Wantage Rural District Council’s refuse collection scheme as it would have meant 4d (2p) in the pound on the rates. Eventually a contractor agreed to collect on the first Tuesday of every month. You see, things have progressed – we now have a weekly collection! The cost was to be by voluntary payment -We wonder how much was considered a fair amount! There is no mention of where the rubbish was tipped.

For the first time since 1928 the Parish Meeting applied for a Precept of £5; in 1979 it was £880 and in 1994 it was £1900.

Part of the Manor House Estate had been sold in 1925, another part was sold in 1931.

1932

This seemed to be just one of those steady old years; either that or there was so much going on that no-one had time to record it.

Two new lamps, cassocks and surplices for the choir (7 in all) and the antique chest were all bought for the church. The Church Electoral Roll had risen to 81 – more than double the number in 1931 – and there were 14 members of the PCC instead of the 8 as in the previous year. The possibility of building a vestry on to the Church was being talked about.

On the domestic scene, the Wantage Rural District Council was asked if four more houses could be built in Upton.

The District Council wanted, if you please, permission to tip Blewbury’s household refuse into the Upton tip. Definitely not, said Upton, Blewbury have three acres of land themselves where rubbish could be tipped.

Again the footpath leading to the old Post Office was in a bad state, but as an estimate of £13 was considered far too expensive for a concrete wall to be laid along the ditch (surely they meant the stream?) repairs of some kind would be done voluntarily by residents.

1933

The first mention of getting a “play field” for Upton. A committee of six was formed to investigate the possibilities, and at the very first meeting it was announced that there had been an offer of £50 towards the purchase, but with a condition that no cleric should be elected on the committee nor act as trustee. [This seemed to be a very strange condition]. This immediately divided the committee and so a Special Parish Meeting (in other words a Public Meeting) was called, when it was decided that the money was the most important factor [isn’t it always!] and it should be accepted in spite of the condition imposed. However, only a few weeks later, a second offer of £50 was made – unconditionally – so yet another Parish Meeting was called. Two committee meetings and two Parish Meetings within six weeks must have been something of a record, and no doubt that record must have stood until 1979 when there were three Public Meetings and two Parish Council meetings in five weeks (after which the Clerk collapsed with writer’s cramp and exhaustion!!). However, the “play field” was quite obviously not only an important but also a sensitive issue, as 50 people were present at the second Parish Meeting. The first offer was subsequently withdrawn, but there were still strong feelings about both offers, as at the meeting several people wanted to refuse the second offer as well and raise money by voluntary means. However, they were out-voted, the second offer of £50 accepted, and a decision taken to purchase 2 acres of land, but there was no mention of where it was.

Later in the year it was discovered that under a Local Government Act of 1894, it would be necessary to apply to Berkshire County Council [Upton being then in Berkshire, not Oxfordshire], for an order conferring on the Parish Meeting the powers of a Parish Council, to enable them to provide and maintain land for the purpose of a Recreation Ground. [A Parish Council was not established until 1947].

The new vestry was no longer just a pipe-dream. Some materials which would be useful for it were bought from the Upton Estate and a general appeal for funds was made. There were some things that moved quickly in those days – or maybe it depended on who was moving them!

The Church safe was bought for £10. This is still in the vestry, and what would it cost today we wonder? But what to us now seems a very small sum of money was a vast amount in those days. For instance, the man who very kindly did some work looking after the church had his salary raised to 1s. 0d [5p] per week. Would anyone do anything for that money to-day?

It was interesting to read that several PCC meetings during the year were held on a Saturday. Would that find favour today, do you think?

1934

A tragic year because of the bad fire in Upton, which devastated a large area around Pound Lane.

On the brighter side, the water scheme crops up – or should we say spurts up again. There is nothing to say what had been happening about it since 1930 – maybe there had only been a trickle of activity, or maybe it was just stagnant! This time the suggestion was a joint scheme with Blewbury. At a Public Meeting all except one person voted for the scheme. Now why was he or she against having piped water in the village we wonder, or did they just not like that particular scheme?

Plans for the new Vestry had been drawn up by an Architect, but the estimates for this design were too costly, and as the Architect had now died, another Architect submitted revised plans. Someone, no name was mentioned, offered to pay the cost of facing the walls of the new vestry with flint to match the rest of the Church, instead of leaving it in rubble. St. Mary’s Church is, of course, one of the very few flint faced churches still remaining in the county. Eventually flints were taken from the original wall of the Church to form the doorway. The Church itself had been restored in 1885, re-opened by Bishop Mackerness on 2 July 1885 – when the rubble walls, four feet in thickness, were partially re-built and faced with flint.

1935

King George V’s Silver Jubilee Year

A committee of 15 was formed to arrange celebrations in the village. There never appeared to be lack of people willing to be members of a committee! To-day we have great difficulty getting six Parish Councillors once every four years! One member of the Celebrations Committee was Rev. Chitty, and this was the first mention of him in the Parish Meeting minutes. There was to be tea for all children of school age and under; a Jubilee mug for each child; and sports to be held on the day. It was decided to ask for voluntary subscriptions to meet the cost. £3 was promised immediately at the meeting. Upton people were just as generous then as they are today.

The Vestry was built at a cost of £218. 0s. 6d. It was consecrated on 1 February 1935 by the Bishop of Oxford, Dr. T. B. Strong. There were seven visiting Clergy at the Service and also the Rural Dean, Rev. C. B. Longland. The congregation numbered over 100. Two oak chairs for the vestry were donated by three villagers, Mr. & Mrs. Newman and Mrs. Humphrey. I imagine they are the chairs which to this day are still used in the Vestry.

Having got the Vestry project out of the way, the next proposal seemed to be to buy the land east of the Church – owned by Mr. Frank Napper, and which is now the new Churchyard. The old Churchyard was not consecrated until 1862, the space having previously been open to the road. All parochial interments were, before that date, at Blewbury.

1936

Still talking about a “play field” – 3 years after the first mention – but now a specific piece of land was being looked at, but no mention of where. However, an offer of £100 was to be made.

A house to house collection was made to help buy the land for the new Churchyard. The Church again seemed to be moving faster than other people. Maybe the Rev. Chitty should have been approached to get the water supply installed!

There didn’t seem to be anything else particularly noteworthy this year. Maybe everyone was just “resting” after last year’s celebrations.

1937

The year of the Coronation of King George VI, and more celebrations. Coronation mugs for the children of school age and under, and sports for everybody, and the expenses were not to exceed £15. No mention of tea, but no doubt there was that as well. Can you imagine any function in Upton without tea and those lovely home-baked cakes.

The site which had been proposed last year for the “play field” was not considered suitable, and the price quoted was too high anyway. Mr. Rowland was asked if a part of his field could be rented, for the time being. Although he agreed and a price of £1 per year was suggested, the offer was eventually refused because there would be horses in the field and this could be dangerous for the children. So the owner of the land above the Rectory in Chilton Road was to be asked if he would sell two acres.

The new Churchyard had been bought, and on Tuesday 9 March at 3pm it was consecrated by the Right Rev. Father Oswald Burton Allen DD. A fir tree was donated for the ground.

There were also gifts for the Church – a notice board for the porch, a cupboard for Vestments, a kneeling mat for the font. These were all donated by Rev. and Mrs. Baverstock. Rev. Wrenford gave the purple frontal, Miss Wrenford the girls class at the school gave the purple vestment.

As well as many other things, the Rev. Baverstock seemed to keep the old churchyard in order.

Yet another project was proposed by the PCC (they never stopped did they?). Electricity should be put in the Church.

1938

No sooner had it been proposed, than, at the flick of a switch so to speak, electric lighting was installed in the Church. This was a gift by Mr. & Mrs. Hopwood and Mrs. Philps in memory of Mr. Philps. At the same time the bell turret was re-tiled in cedarwood tiles.

Again for those people who love statistics – there were in 1938, 86 people on the Church Electoral Roll; 11 boys and seven girls in the Sunday School, but no choir, 14 members on the PCC, and 12 boys and 11 girls at the school, and two teachers.

A seat to commemorate the Coronation was presented to the village by the Flower Show and Fête Committee. It was not clear at the time if this was an Upton committee (but it was discovered much later that it was) and there was no mention of a Flower Show or Fête being held during the year. However, the seat was to have been placed at the junction of the Lynchway, but the County Council objected, so it was to be put on the land adjoining the school fence. A notice board was also presented to the village (was that the one that was outside the present shop, lasted 40 years and fell down in 1978!). A telephone kiosk was being talked about, and a good place to have it would be at the Crossings.

But these were dark days and the war clouds were gathering. Air raid precautions were discussed and requests made for volunteer Air Raid Wardens. However, the war would have to take its turn, there was still the little matter of the water supply. An application was made for a piped supply of water to be laid from Blewbury main to Upton, then to lay pipes round the village to supply anyone who would like to be connected. It is now eight years since the water scheme was first mentioned, and there are many more years to go before we reach the end of this particular story, so have a nice cold glass of water from your tap and keep reading!

1939

The Second World War started, but it was gratifying to find there was one small corner of the British Isles where life was carrying on regardless. There is no mention of the war in any of the records for this year.

The telephone kiosk, when it was eventually obtained, would now be put by the Post Office. This seemed a sensible idea.

There was a broken down seat at the Crossings which wanted removing – surely this wasn’t the Coronation Seat of last year. Couldn’t possibly have been, must have been a much older one – probably given for the previous Coronation.

The stove in the Church did not appear to be adequate and it seemed essential to get improved heating of some kind. A “pipeless heating stove” was estimated to cost £78. 14s. 0d, but there just wasn’t that sort of money in the Church funds. However until the necessary funds could be raised one way or another, the Rector generously offered to provide the money.

The Church Cleaner’s salary was raised to £10 per annum and for this magnificent sum the person concerned had to clean the brass, do all the general cleaning of the Church, light and stoke the stove at the week-end, and open and shut the Church each day.

“The old seat” Rev. and Mrs. Baverstock were still donating gifts to the Church, this time a carpet.

Ah, the Flower Show and Fête was an Upton affair, and there definitely was one held in 1939, on 12 August at Brookside (High Street) at 3pm. There were 3 Divisions for exhibits open only to Residents in Upton and 1 Division open to Upton, Chilton, East and West Hagbourne, and Blewbury. Division 1 was open to COTTAGERS, entrance fee in each of the four classes was 3d. Division 2 was open to RESIDENTS and the entrance fee was 6d. for each class, but the prize money was less. For example Class 1 in each Division was “Bouquet of Flowers in a 2-lb. Jam-jar”, and the prize money in Division 1 was; 1st prize 3s. 6d, 2nd 2s. 6d., 3rd 1s. 0d. and in Division 2; 2s. 6d 1s. 6d 1s. 0d. In Division 3 one of the classes was “A mixed-fruit cake, not to cost more than 1s. 3d.” That is about 6½p and it might just make half a very small rock cake to-day!

1940

The war was beginning to affect the village, albeit only in a small way. Air Raid Wardens had been appointed and a Special Meeting on Air Raid warnings was held. Some people wanted the parish warning to be given whenever the Warden received the red warning by night, and others wanted the local warning at all times. A few others suggested that warning should only be given after the guns were heard. Some said that being so near to Didcot, the village was sufficiently warned by the siren. Back to square one the Wardens to use their own discretion. Which just proves, you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time!

It was important to be able to provide allotments for people who wanted them and the only way a village could administer them was through a Parish Council, which Upton did not have. Nothing had come of the proposition to form one in 1933. However, it was discovered that because of the war no elections to a Parish Council could be held. So there was a suggestion that perhaps an “Allotment Society” could be formed. Someone had even offered to let an area of about 280 poles at a rent of £4 per annum, inclusive of tithe, payable annually. 280 poles was thought to be too much, about 100 poles would probably be sufficient.

The black-out of the Church porch needed to be improved and it was suggested that the open sides of the porch should be enclosed with 3-ply wood, and also a curtain should be hung at the end of the porch. Which end? – surely it would get wet if hung at the “open” end?!

It was obvious that nothing could be done about a “play field” during the war so the money which had already been collected towards it – £119. 13s. 1d – should be transferred from Barclays Bank to the Post Office Savings Bank in the Parish Council’s name, where it was felt it would be of service to the Government (Did the Government appreciate this grand gesture?) as well as accruing some interest.

The new heating stove had not been installed in the Church the previous winter after all, so it was done in the summer of this year.

The window at the west end of the Church was made to open because many people complained about lack of ventilation. And just how simple and easy things were then, a quote from the minutes:- “the cord which had been attached to the window to make it open was an old piece and not strong enough, and a new piece would be needed”.

The first mention in the Records of the “Hut” being used for the Annual Parish Meeting.

1941

The war was getting more serious – a team of Fire Watchers was formed in the village. Worse still, there was an Air Raid on 9 March when it was discovered that there was an inadequate supply of sand.

The Rev. Chitty was sent overseas to Aden as Naval Chaplain, and Rev. Baverstock was now taking the services. But getting the Church properly blacked out was still a problem. The porch black-out was satisfactory but the windows would need improving, especially in the winter. The curtains in the Nave would have to be re-lined as they were no longer light-proof. Presumably because of the black-out difficulties the times of the Services were altered. The Minutes say “Evening Service should be held in the afternoon during the last quarter of the moon and the new moon, and in the evening during the first quarter and the full moon”. Did everyone knew their “waxing and waning” rules we wonder!

Rev. Baverstock was producing a quarterly leaflet entitled “Our Parish”. It was only one page and was mainly church news, but there were other items from time to time.

Young girls in the village had formed themselves into a Folk Dancing team and entertained people by giving displays. This had raised enough money to provide curtains for the school windows and to give donations to the Red Cross and British Legion Benevolent Funds.

There was the usual Harvest Festival Service and the produce went to Wallingford Infirmary and Didcot Hospital, but the flowers were sent to Upton Maternity Home.

Life was getting more difficult; it seemed the Council would no longer empty the Church dust bin. However, someone offered to dispose of the ashes from the stove, which was obviously a help.

The precept for the Village had remained steady over the years at £5, but this year it was raised to £6 had inflation arrived?

The Hut was suddenly in the news. The Misses Fry, who lived in the Manor House, and owned the hut, were no longer able to keep it in good repair, and they offered to present it to the PCC, subject to the PCC coming to a similar arrangement as they had with the owner of the land on which it stood, – the land attached to Brookside, High Street. However after a good deal of thought the PCC declined the offer as it was felt the financial responsibility of the Hut would be too great.

1942

Three years into the war, but, in the main, life jogged along in Upton, regardless. Social gatherings were held to raise money to pay for renovating the hut, and to have something in hand for future improvement. The hut was presumably now the property of the village as a whole, as the PCC had declined the offer to them the previous year.

The water supply, as ever, was still causing concern, so two dams were made to conserve the water of the brook for fire purposes. There must have been considerably more water in the brook than there is today.

The District Council had asked that a Salvage Steward be appointed to organise salvage collections. I wonder what kind of salvage? Anyway, it doesn’t really matter as no-one wanted the job.

However, some good news, it was back to £5 for the precept, so inflation hadn’t arrived.

A flower Guild was to be formed for flowers in the Church. No other details are given but maybe it was the forerunner of the Flower Rota we have to-day.

Ah!, so there were people who didn’t know their “waxing and waning” because the winter Church Services were spelled out more clearly. “Holy Communion 1st and 3rd Sundays 9am; 2nd Sunday 8am; 4th Sunday 12 noon; 5th Sunday 8am; Matins at 11am. Evensong at 6pm on the two Sundays when the moon was up and 3pm on the two Sundays when there was no moon; Festivals 7.30, 9 11 & 12”. Did we say more clearly? And what happened on the 5th Sunday or when the weather blocked out the moon?!

Meetings were now held in the school. There was an anonymous donation of material for lining the blackout curtains and Mrs. Philps made them.

The Bishop had requested that this year the collections on Sexagesima Sunday should be devoted to the Red Cross instead of Church Schools as in previous years as there was to be a National Appeal for the Red Cross on that Sunday, but he expressed the hope that the collections on a Sunday later in the year might be given to Church Schools.

It was the 500th Anniversary of the Diocese and the Bishop had stated he would publish a letter on the subject to be read in Church on Quinquagesima Sunday (Sunday before Lent).

1943

The Parish Meetings had hit an all-time low, with little or nothing to report. just a little spark of enthusiasm was raised when there was a lengthy discussion about salvage once again. This time the District Council were to be asked, quite strongly, to make a house to house collection as elderly residents were unable to take the salvage to the village dump [It was probably the “rubble pit” at the top of Alden Lane]. It is still not clear what exactly was meant by `salvage’. Apart from this, things were obviously at a low ebb as there was not even a Precept applied for this year. Well they did have £8. 6s. 8d. in hand after all, and with not a lot to spend it on by the sound of things.

On the other hand, the Church, as usual, was beavering away. Rev. Chitty was back home temporarily, and presided at a PCC meeting in January. Soon after, it was announced that he was to be married on 5 July in Leeds.

Rev. Baverstock was ill, so Rev. Pelloe was conducting the services and producing the “Upton News Sheet” – the Mark II version of “Our Parish”. For some strange reason one issue quoted the fact that there were 74 houses in the village and 230 people. (50 years on, these numbers have more than doubled). This may have been because the News Sheet was running into financial difficulties, but could keep going if Parishioners each contributed 1p per month. 61 people subscribed to the next issue.

Still on the subject of money, it was interesting to read that at that time the Church was insured for £3,250 against fire, with a premium of £1. 16s. 7d., and the Whit Sunday Collection included 4236 farthings which had been collected by the children. If you can remember your `tables’ – 4 farthings = 1d, 12d = 1s. 0d, 20s = £1, so 4236 farthings = £4. 8s. 3d. It doesn’t say how long it took to collect them; maybe it was an annual thing. The Flower Guild of last year didn’t get off the ground after all, and so it was back to the informal arrangement of the flowers.

The two ladies, Miss Humfrey and Miss Linthwaite who had played the organ over the years were both resigning and even advertisements in two local papers for a new organist had failed to bring forth any response.

A Miss Audrey Brown, known to us all now as Audrey Damnjanovic was asked to fill a vacancy on the PCC.

A box labelled “Churchyard Fund” was to be put in the Church.

Guttering and downspout were installed round the vestry and a water butt placed to collect the water, which could be used for the heating stove.

It was the year when the one man from the village, Mr. Ernest Greenough was killed on active service.

The Quinquagesima Sunday collections were to go to the Red Cross again. Rev, Baverstock was unable to continue the maintenance of the Churchyard and the Churchwardens should get the grass cut before Easter if necessary and pay for it out of the Burial Ground Fund.

Mr. Newman, Churchwarden (and he was Chairman for several meetings during the year) was now Vice-Chairman, as the Rector still had not been released from Service. There was a suggestion that printed envelopes be sent round to every house in order to form a fund for the upkeep of the Churchyard as it was felt that people, not members of the Church, who had relatives buried there would most likely contribute.

However, it was not done as there were too many appeals. The Easter offering of £17. 12s. 6d , still given to the Vicar went to Rev. Baverstock. Sunday May 16th had been appointed throughout the country as Youth Sunday and the Bishop requested that the collection was to go to Church Schools.

1944

A year of less activity than the last one. Maybe five years of war was taking its toll, or maybe everyone was saving themselves for the victory celebrations which would be coming very soon.

There was the never ending shortage of water in case of fire. The piped water scheme to householders had obviously `dried up’ during the war, because no mention had been made of it throughout.

Precept was again to be £5, as the balance in hand was now only £3. 16s. 11d. What had they been spending it on?!

Sign posts were requested for Station Road.

The flowers in the church again – this time volunteers were being requested. However, flower beds were to be planted on each side of the porch; maybe this would do instead?! The flower beds were lost for a time, but are now reinstated.

The amount paid to the Organ Blower was considered to be inadequate and he should now be paid 6d. (2½p) per Service. Whatever was he getting before?

It was agreed that if anyone was not or had not recently been a resident of Upton, wishing to be buried in the Churchyard, the Sexton’s fee of 2/6 should be doubled, and a minimum fee of £1 be charged for the ground. The fixing of this fee was to be left to the discretion of the Churchwardens in the Rector’s absence. Mr. Butler would now do the maintenance of the Churchyard instead of Mr. Manfield.

1945

The blackout curtains in the Church porch were taken down and returned to Misses Fry at the Manor House. The boards in the porch were removed and sold to Mr. Newman, a villager for 2/-. It was noted that the organ needed repairs. More people were joining the flower rota.

War had ended. The Rector was back permanently and he suggested looking to future plans: set times for daily prayers, special weekday services during Advent, more Church Council meetings, closest possible co-operation with the Methodists, fuller use of Bible Fellowship, and Sunday School.

Four Parish Meetings were held in the school. The precept was put up to £10 and they still had £2. 11s. 11d. in hand! However, the footbridge over Bray Brook needed repairs which would cost £8.

Permission was given by the R.D.C. to use the “Rubble pit” as a dump provided it was covered with soil when full. Where did they use before?

1946

The Head Warden thanked all who had helped wardens during the war and handed a first aid box over to the village for their use.

The victory celebrations, including a united service of praise and thanksgiving was to be held on Saturday 8 June. The cost was to be out of the rates. Enquiries were to be made about the cost of a Bier for the Village.

1947

The Telephone BoxA Parish Council was established. Five councillors were elected at a meeting chaired by Rev. Chitty, out of eight candidates. Voting was by a show of hands. The first meeting was held in the Schoolroom on 10th November. Mr. E. Butler was elected Chairman. Mr. Jefferies, who was also one of the five councillors, was elected Clerk (not possible today). Declarations were made at the 1 December meeting.

The Playfield Committee ceased to exist and everything was taken over by the Parish Council. The Playfield account now amounted to £140. 8s. 10d. with interest. The telephone kiosk was still wanted near the Post Office. The renaming of streets was mentioned and a name was wanted for the housing estate.

The organ had been tuned and an electric blower was suggested. A light was installed in the “stoke hold”. At last the boiler was OK and Mr. Bucknell offered to pay for a fan to improve the draught. The Men’s Club (possibly part of the PCC) would organise a Whist Drive to raise money for the Agricultural Distress Fund.

1948

The Rural District Council wanted to call the Council House Estate “Prospect Road”. The Parish Council wanted “Fieldside”. The site for the Playfield was discussed. They wanted five acres in order to get a grant from the Board of Education.

£4 profit was raised from the sale of meat pies by the Women’s Voluntary Services for the Playfield account. Was this the restart of fund raising for the field?

A suggestion was made that Upton might become attached to Wallingford RDC instead of Wantage. It was unanimously agreed to stay with Wantage.

The first mention of a Church Garden Fête (on 24th July) and it made £87. 14s. 11d. The Bishop of Singapore was to visit the village in September to accept a Shepherd’s crook from Mrs. Tyler, which had once belonged to the late Mr. Tyler.

1949

Not an exceptional year, so far as the Church was concerned. Mrs. Kitson gave two pictures, painted by her, to the Church. Mrs. Alexander gave some linen.

A new bell-rope was fitted, and it was noted that the only inscription on the bell was “1747”.

1950

The telephone kiosk was installed but there was no light in it. A bus to Wallingford was requested, but without success.

The cost of the Playfield was to be approximately £850 for five acres. There was £178. 18s. 9d. in the Post Office and they would probably get a fifty percent grant from the Education Committee. £50 was offered and the remainder on loan for one year, free of interest. A Public subscription list was to be opened. A subscription was offered (no amount stated) on condition that there were no organised games on Sundays. There were doubts that such conditions could be imposed on a Public Recreation Ground.

It was established that the path between the Churchyards was a public footpath and not church property. A decision was made that the Church should have a fire extinguisher as there was neither a bucket of water or sand and still no mains water.

At the Annual Church meeting “Mr. Alexander closed a hilarious evening by giving a lifelike display of the Nu-Swift fire extinguisher in action, with the meeting as the target. The meeting was cowed at the point of the nozzle into approving the purchase of this lethal weapon!”

5/-p.a. extra on insurance to have a Burglary Insurance Policy was felt worth it so that the Church always remained open daily.

1951

The cost of the Playfield had now risen to about £934. A £280 grant had been obtained from the Education Committee, but £350 still had to be raised.

Two Council houses were being built but there was still no light in the telephone kiosk. The Post Office early closing day was to be changed from Thursday to Saturday.

Miss Fry had requested that the Hut be removed by February 1952.

The church organ had been overhauled for £90. An estimate of £65 for the purchase and fixing an electric blower, had been rejected and instead the case was to be painted white and gold. The organ was moved from the chancel arch to the back of the church.

1952

The two Council houses were finished. Eight Council bungalows were proposed, but instead six houses 4-3 beds and two 2 bed, were to be built by the end of 1953.

A letter about a grant for the field had been received from the Ministry of Education; it had taken six weeks to come. It contained the ultimatum that if work on the field had not been started by 30th June, no grant could be considered. A loan had been obtained from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and local voluntary labour would be used to get the field in order. The electric pylons were to be moved. On November 5th a bonfire was lit on the field.

It would cost £85. 10s. 0d for treatment of furniture beetle in the timbers of the church and take three days to do. The organ “expired” during the Te Deum on Whit Sunday and a new electric blower was needed. Fund raising was difficult as so much was going towards the Playing field. It was agreed to get a blower for £68 including wiring. The money would be raised by appeal to all on the Church Electoral Roll.

1953

The Manor House was now empty. Twelve chestnut trees were donated to be planted on the Recreation field. An offer from Sir Henry Braund of £100 was received to erect a bus shelter in memory of his Aunt Miss Lynthwaite.

The formal opening of the field by Mr. Baverstock was on Coronation Day of Queen Elizabeth II, 2nd June, and so it was named Coronation Field. Mr. Roland made an opening speech as he knew the history of the purchase and the agreement was handed over to the Chairman of the Parish Council. Mr. Jefferies would hand over the deeds. Mr. Carpenter of Didcot was to take photos.

Goalposts would be purchased for football and also a gate for the field. Swings for the children’s Playground would cost £37. 11s. 0d for one set of 4 swings. £20 to connect a water supply to the field was considered too expensive.

The Hut was to be purchased by the Parish Council from Miss Fry. The Mobile Library started on Fridays between 6.30 and 7pm.

The times of the Church Services were changed again. The morning service would be at 9am and the 11 am service discontinued, reputedly because of the smell of the stuff that killed the death-watch beetle. About this period, a cross was given to the church by Mrs. Tufnell-Barret who used to live at Upton Lodge. The cross was believed to be about 2 to 3 hundred years old, and had been the top of a Processional Cross, probably Spanish. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander had it restored and remade as an Altar Cross.

1954

A payment of £135. 8s. 6d. cleared the loan for the Recreation field of £140 for 30 years at 4½% in one year. It was then fenced off. There was a proposal to put a Notice Board near the Playing field, also to put seats on the field.

£1, a token fee, was paid to Miss Fry for the Village Hut. She died shortly after, but her wishes were carried out that the Hut plus assets should pass into the control of the Parish Council. The list included tables, chairs, 2 screens, crockery, cutlery, brushes, brooms, oil lamp, oil stove, 2 Gramophones and one trunk containing various games. The charges to the village for hiring out the Hut were to be:-“Simple use of hut, without light or heat 2/6

Simple use of hut with light 3/-

Simple use of hut with light and heat 7/6″ Private and outside concerns were to be charged 10/- on all occasions.

Electric heating was proposed for the Church.

1955

The Hut was now sited in the garden of “Brookside”, High Street, and renamed “Upton Village Hall”. Parish Council meetings were now held in it. The Bus shelter was finished, but for some reason the Thames Valley Bus was not stopping there.

Water and sanitation was wanted by the School. Under the 1945 scheme, the school was scheduled to be closed in 1960, but a five year delay was possible. Sanitation would cost £387, 50% from the Ministry of Education, but £193 to be found by the Parish. Eventually an interest free loan was obtained from the Diocese. The School House also needed water and sanitation.

1956

Water pipes had been laid at last, but an open trench was left and still no water to some Council houses.

1957

A new Methodist Chapel was built with funds raised by their congregation. The original Chapel, over 130 years old, was in High Street. It is now a private garage.

1958

Anglo-Saxon burials were discovered near High Street. Was there a settlement here in Anglo-Saxon times? Early 12th century pottery had been found in gardens of High Street and Fieldside. A 14th century buckle was found in the churchyard with a small hoard of Elizabethan coins.

An envelope scheme for weekly collection at church was started.

A letter was sent by the Parish Council to British Railways deploring the practice of carrying out bridge repair work on Sundays.

1959

The organ was tuned by a Mr. Wilkins, and the inside Church walls were painted. A Bier was purchased by public subscription and repaired. Three Trustees, Mr. Butler, Mr. Bucknell Mr. Radway, were appointed to have the responsibility for it and to control use.

The removal of the hut (Village Hall) to the Playing field was discussed.

1960

More Anglo-Saxon burials were discovered near High Street. Electric heating was installed in the Church. A new font cover was suggested as the original was 17th century and not used as it completely blocked the view of people sitting behind it.

A sub-committee was set up to discuss the possibility of a new Village Hall, and the possibility of a Trust being formed to raise funds to build it, which should be on land publicly owned. The Trust could get a grant which the Parish Council couldn’t. The Trust would manage the Hall when built. A grant of up to 50% could be obtained from the Ministry of Education under the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937. It would also qualify for a loan from the National Council of Social Service. The Trust was formed provisionally for six months with one representative from each of the church, the Methodists and Parish Council together with one independent and one representative under 30.

The first meeting of the Provisional Trust was held at the Hut on 24th October. Mr. Hardwick was elected to the chair and Mr. Mulford was asked to keep a record of the proceedings. The other members were The Rector, Rev. Chitty, Mr. M. Butler and Miss Ames. They made a good start by obtaining quotations for materials for a hall.

1961

The Village Hall Trust agreed the minimum requirements should include such items as a car park, adequate access, insulation, foundations, cedar timber, etc.

At the Annual Parish Meeting it was presumably agreed that the Village Hall Trust was to be continued for one year and to be named “Upton Village Amenities Trust”. The scope of the Trust was to be extended to include other amenities and there would be three representatives from constituent bodies. The first meeting of this new body met in the school on 8th June. Mr. Parker was elected secretary and Mrs. Williams treasurer. As Mr. Hardwick was not one of the new Trustees, Miss Ames was elected Chairman, and Mr. J. Smith were elected Vice Chairman until the next Annual Parish Meeting. The secretary was asked to write to the Parish Council that the mood of the meeting was for the Playing field to be legally conveyed to the Trust “for what they are and as a potential building site for a Village Hall” Some of the amenities agreed included a Children’s corner (without sand pit), a netball team and a cricket pitch. The field should be levelled and the grass cut short. Sub-committees were set up to investigate the levelling of the field, purchase and housing of a mower, organising a barbecue to raise money and redecoration of the old Hall. One sub-committee obtained a quotation of £9 and £6 to cut the field, but the Parish Council were already only paying £5 per cut! Another sub-committee proposed to renovate the old Hall at a cost of £60. However this was later rescinded when Mr. Mulford said that the old Hall could not remain permanently in his garden. They agreed however that the Hall should be “tidied up”. The barbecue was apparently a great success as 100 people attended and a “handsome profit” of £8. 17s. 1d. was made. The sub-committee asked that the money should be used to improve the Children’s play area.

The removal of the old Hall to a new site was ruled out as it was riddled with woodworm! A man from the National Council of Social Service advised the Amenities Trust of a number of points. The Trust could lease land from the Parish Council on which to build a Hall, but there was no advantage in taking over the Recreation ground. Any funds for the Hall and Recreation area should be kept separate. The Amenities Trust could remain as an exploratory body until such time as it was decided to start on the renewal of the Village Hall. Then a Deed of Trust should be drawn up. The Amenities Trust could still remain the permanent Trust with two sub-committees, one for the Hall and one for the Recreation area. The Parish Council could hand over money for a new Hall to the Trust, but the amount was limited to a ½d rate.

The Minutes of the Amenities Trust then appear to suggest it was running the Annual Garden Fête!

1962

The Didcot to Newbury section of the railway line was closed. It was part of the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway which opened in 1882. In its heyday in 1914 it carried 200,000 passengers in 8 daily trains in each direction. In 1938 only 58,000 travelled on fewer trains. Most popular was the 9.20pm from Newbury known locally as the “boozer”. A coach or two was tacked on to the regular goods train but there was no guaranteed time of arrival at Didcot. The “Newbury News” reported that last passenger train to leave Newbury for Didcot had seven diesel coach units containing about 160 people each paying 4/6d for the journey. In the guard’s van was a coffin labelled “Didcot-Newbury line died 8 Sept. 1962 from an overdose of Beeching Pills”.

A new font cover was donated by a parishioner, Mrs. Davies. A site for a new Rectory was proposed. The present rectory was thought too far from the church and might be too large for a future incumbent. It also needed a lot of repairs. The Church Commissioners recommended purchase of a plot provided the “Old Chapel” was pulled down. Where was this? The Rector was against it as it was part of the history of the village (1842) and could be used for a parish room, library, play room, etc.

Brook Street was renamed Stream Road to go from Orchard Close to Frogalley Farm, and High Street and Pound Lane were officially named.

The Amenities Trust sub-committees were in full spate raising money with theatre outings, socials and the Fête, which raised £103 and obtaining donations. It was decided that a slide was the first item to be bought for the children’s play area. This was erected during August. The Parish Council asked the Amenities Trust for financial help in cutting the Recreation ground grass. The Trust agreed to pay £5 towards one cut. The Trust was now the proud owner of 8 dozen cups, 3 dozen saucers and three dozen spoons which they had bought from Mays of Abingdon for £5 16s. 0d. which they were hiring out. What happened to the crockery left by Miss Fry?

The Trust committee were worried about broken windows in the Village Hall and broken tiles on the roof of the Bus shelter. They were also concerned with the subject of painting the post at the end of Post Office footpath, entering the Best Kept Village Competition and they even reported that the proceeds of the Flower show should go to the Village Produce Association. Were they taking over the running of the village?

Main drainage was on its way at last. It was announced that it would cost £18,000.

1963

It was a hard winter. The Chilton Road area (Upper Upton) was without water for several weeks due to frozen pipes. It was reported that the R.D.C. would start a weekly refuse collection in April. However it did not start until July. It appeared that the main drainage scheme was completed during the year.

A major concern to the Parish Council during the year was the Bus Service.

This year the Amenities Trust had bought and erected a slide in the Recreation Ground and been given a swing which they erected. However they turned down the offer of an old car on which the children could play. Four red chestnut trees were donated to the Recreation Ground. They were making representations to the Parish Council to take over the old Village Hall, but the Parish Council were not being quick to respond favourably. However, fund-raising for the new hall continued unabated with barbecues, barn dances and jumble sales. This year they agreed to split the profits of the Fête between the Village Hall fund and Oxfam.

The Amenities trust had engaged a solicitor, Sir John Hedges, and he had advised, and a meeting unanimously agreed, to approach the Parish Council to sell part of the Recreation Ground, subject to a reversionary clause, or alternatively to make a lease of at least 28 years. All negotiations were to be subject to planning permission.

1964

The County Council turned down an application to provide a footpath along Fieldside due to shortage of money. The Bus service was still of concern and 19 members of the public turned up to a Special Parish Council Meeting. They were apparently able to persuade Mr. Tappin to run extra services. The bus shelter was repaired at last!

At the Annual General Meeting of the Amenities Trust, the fund stood at £342 and the recreation Ground fund at £28. The urgency of forming a permanent Trust was emphasized by the Chairman. The Trust were applying to buy a portion of the Recreation Ground 130ft by 57 ft. The boundaries being 33ft from the Station Road fence and 25ft from Mr. Churchman’s fence. This latter dimension was later increased to 45 to 50 ft to allow access to the Recreation ground.

1965

This year the fête would be held at Corderoys and the Village Hall would get bof the proceeds. It made £193. The total in the Village fund had now reached £630. A referendum was organised in the Village.

54 voted for the erection of a Village Hall, 11 voted for the erection of a pavilion, 18 to explore other possibilities and 23 abstained or failed to vote. It was therefore agreed to go ahead with the Village Hall project.

1966

Again the profits of the fête would go to the Village Hall fund. The conveyance had finally been drawn up and signed and the Trust had purchased the site for the new Village Hall for £1. The estimate was that the Hall could be built in 4 or 5 years time and the cost was likely to be £7500, of which the Village would have to raise £3000. After many discussions throughout the year it was decided that the new Hall should be brick built using volunteer labour.

1967

Upton won its class in the Best Kept Village Competition. A plaque was presented by Major, the Hon. David Smith CBE JP, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire.

The church had a face lift. The interior was decorated and new gates were erected at a cost of £27.

The old Village Hall, “The Hut”, was sold to Brian Arnold. He removed it from the garden of “Brookside” to his own garden where it now stands. Various people offered to store the crockery, heaters and other items from the old Hall until the new one was built. An application was made for the triangle on the corner of Stream Road and Church Street to become “Common Land”.

The plans for the new Hall were presented to the Trust, which met at the School, in June. It was agreed to apply for a grant on the basis of a total cost of £3034. The Fête appeared not to have been held due to lack of organisers.

1968

An end of an era with the leaving of the Rector, Rev. Chitty, who had been at Upton since 1931. The Rectory was sold and the Rev. Pickles, Vicar of Blewbury, took pastoral charge of Upton with Blewbury. The Church asked the Parish Council for a contribution towards the churchyard maintenance. The Bishop of Oxford instituted Rev. Pickles as Priest in Charge of the parish on Wednesday 23rd October at 7.30pm.

The proposal to demolish the Manor House was blocked until the building had been extensively examined to ascertain whether it had any historical value. It was thought that it might be 17th century with later additions and alterations. The building was eventually granted a preservation order and is now a listed building. Mr. Guy Napper had owned it since 1956.

Things were progressing with the new Hall. They were advised to order polypropylene chairs instead of tubular canvas seated ones. Again, this year no Fete was held.

1969

The first request was made for street lighting in the village. The SEB suggested a scheme costing £850 to £1000. The cost of installation and future running and maintenance costs would have to be borne by the parish. The decision on whether to go ahead was deferred for a year and the Parish Council would continue to investigate the possibility of grants etc. A sub-committee was formed to discuss the street lighting. A resolution was passed authorising the Parish Council to adopt the powers of the Lighting Authority, but a referendum on the views of the villagers would be sought.

The Parish Council agreed to make a donation towards churchyard maintenance.

The Trust set up a sub-committee to oversee the building of the new Hall. It was agreed that there was insufficient qualified help in the village and some professional help would need to be bought in. Mr. Buchner had offered to be Clerk of Works from his home, but one was needed on site. A problem then had arisen in that if professional help was used, the costs would rise. A public meeting was to be called and it was agreed to proceed with a modified conventional building rather than buy a prefabricated one. To overcome the financial problem, a loan was obtained from the National Playing Field Association. Building appeared to have started somewhere between July and September.

1970

The result of the referendum on street lighting was 29 for, 14 against, 6 wanted it later and there were 4 spoilt papers. However at a meeting in March, the proposition for the Parish Council to raise the necessary loan to pay for the scheme was defeated with 31 against and only 8 for. The Parish Council abandoned the scheme.

A seat was put at the Junction of the A417 and Chilton Road, and the Village Hall Car Park was constructed.

An inventory was taken of all the Church items and Miss Ames offered a filing cabinet for the Church Vestry.

Hall building continued. The grant had been increased, and the Trust were asking the Parish Council for a donation to the Car Park as they had funds from the Sale of the rubbish dump, and the car park would be used by both the Hall and the Playing field. The Parish Council agreed to give £100 on condition the Ministry agreed (they did) and that the Cricket Pitch was removed. The Trust agreed, but the pitch is still there! Lady Page agreed to officially open the Hall on November 27th. The opening was to be followed by a Cheese & Wine Party.

1971

The school was finally closed, having been open since 1863. The Parochial Church Council became responsible for it and to sell it. Residents had fought for some years to keep the school open by writing to the Ministry of Education, but had finally lost.

Some residents again requested a street lighting sub-committee to be set up again.

The first meeting of the Trust to be held in the new Hall was on 25th January.

1972

A proposal was made that the installation of diffused lighting in the church might be a suitable future memorial to Rev. Chitty. They applied for a grant or loan to alter the lighting to fluorescent and to paint the oak boarded roof section. Charles Bucknell was very outspoken against it. He felt the “church should not look a Picture House or Lecture Hall”.

Local Government reorganisation was a big issue. Upton was to change from Wantage RDC to become an outpost of the Vale of White Horse. Street Lighting was raised again. At a public meeting, 40 people, the Parish Council and local press were present. The differing views from the dangers of darkness were discussed against the beauty of the sky at night. In the end, 7 voted for the scheme and 39 against.

A “Village Event”, to be called “Upton 72” was held in the 8 days commencing Saturday July 15th. In the week prior to the event, a Garden competition was held. On the first Saturday and Sunday there was a Flower Festival in both churches. On the Monday, a Beetle Drive. On Wednesday a Military Band display, a barbeque and sideshows. On the Friday there was a Barn Dance, and on Saturday an evening entertainment consisting of Drama and Music items. During the week there was an exhibition of Upton, Past, Present and Future, together with a showing of old Upton films.

Questions had been asked about the function of the Amenities Trust. No reply had been received from the Charities Commission about a permanent Trust! It was decided to set up a sub-committee to look into the matter. Concern was continuing about the state of the Hall surrounds.

1973

The Rev. Derwas Chitty had died on 19 Feb 1971 and it was proposed to erect an icon to his memory, but this was not accepted by the church authorities and a simple memorial plaque was proposed instead. Woodworm was discovered in the timbers of the church, pulpit and organ.

The Village Hall still needed £100 to be raised during the year. They were given an anonamous gift of a stepladder.

1974

A memorial service was held for Derwas Chitty on 23rd June, and a tablet to him was dedicated by Bishop Carpenter. The tablet was of Purbeck stone, carved by Mrs. Nicolette Gray of Long Wittenham, an artist and stone carver.

Rev. Pickles was inducted as Rector of Upton on 9th July by the Bishop of Reading. The Fellowship of St. Alban & St. Sergius presented an Icon in memory of Dr. Chitty.

The new county boundaries came into effect and Upton left Berkshire and became part of Oxfordshire.