Friday, 14 August 2020

Horton Remembers - VJ Day

The weekend of 15th August 2020 we commemorate the 75th anniversary of VJ day

Carolyn, Church Warden at St Michael's, has put together an amazing collection of facts, local memories, newspaper articles and photos - the PDF is available from St Michael's website or from Google Shared Drive.  If you can add anything please let us know!


The research was started to provide a display for the VE Day Celebrations.

Covid-19 disrupted all our plans so this booklet is an attempt to utilise the research
that has been carried out over the past 18 months.

There is sure to be much more information available, which many residents will know and we would be delighted to hear about any stories/information you have about Horton in the Second World War.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Parish History


It is recorded that one John Berkyn, who died in 1458, was the fourth Provost of Eton College. This Provost was of celebrity in his day, and his merit was strenuously and successfully to oppose the union of Eton College with Windsor College, proposed by King Edward IV.

To the east of the village is Berkyn Manor, which stands in a small park, was built about the middle of the 19th century on the site of an old house, supposed to have been that rented by Milton's father in 1632, and pulled down at the end of the 18th century with the exception of a red brick dovecote.

A large elm tree was planted on the village green in 1726. It was planted to commemorate the death of the son of John Ashton, then the Innholder (landlord) of the Crown Inn, who was accidentally killed by the fall of the maypole on this spot.

The Elizabethan mansion known as Place House which was adjacent to the south side of the church tower, having been allowed to fall into decay, was taken down in 1785.

Horton parish was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1799. The award map allows for three gravel and clay pits and 8 acres of land for the poor and for cottage allotments, and 260 acres for the lord of the manor.

The old road from Horton to Wraysbury was closed in 1800. The remains of the road now roughly follow the path of Park Lane.

It is recorded that the Public House, the Five Bells, was let by the church to a George Taylor in 1832 for the sum of £29 per year.

The church stands on the south side of the village street in a large churchyard, where there are two ancient yew trees.

Milton wrote his earlier poems at Horton, where he lived for six years. The impressions which the scenery of the neighbourhood produced upon his mind may be found in l'Allegro and II Penseroso. The poet's mother died at Horton in 1637 and was buried in the parish church. Recently, in 2008, there were civic and parish functions in Horton to commemorate 400 years since his birth.

John Milton

(9 Dec 1608 – 8 Nov 1674) was an English poet, author, polemicist and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England.

He is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost and for his treatise condemning censorship, Areopagitica.

Milton lived in Horton between 1632 and 1638.

On 11 November 2008 Deputy Mayor Cllr Catherine Bursnall unveiled signs in Stanwell Road highlighting the poet’s connection with the village.

Champney Hall and Recreation Ground

 A potted history of Champney Hall and the Recreation Ground

1905  Land Purchase. (Of what is now Champney Hall and the Recreation Ground) 

In 6th June 1905 the land was sold by the executors for the estate of General Owen Williams.  It formed Lot 14 in the sale of 1,215 acres within Horton.  The lot was purchases together with Lot 18 (Horton Cottage) by Mr. John Edward Champney, a benevolent Quaker who lived in the cottage till his death in 1929

1909   Purchased by Public Subscription (Site for a Village Hall) 
Lot 14 formed two parcels of land.  The plot to the east was purchased for a nominal amount from Mr. Champney about 1909.  Funds being raised by public subscription for the site of a Village Hall  

About 1910/11 
Mr. Champney observed that despite considerable effort fundraising to cover building cost was progressing slowly. He also observed that the children of the village were making full recreational use of the ground. He and his wife therefore decided that they would donate the second parcel of land within Lot 14 and would also build on it a Village Hall.

22nd October 1913 -  Opening of a Village Hall.
An extract from the press report of the Opening of the Hall on 22nd October 1913 states 
Rector ......"for many years past the people of Horton have been dreaming about a village hall..... Mr. Champney came to the rescue with a promise that he would build that hall, before he made that promise he saw that the people of Horton were in earnest in trying to raise funds."

Mr. Champney stated that he “made that promise because he did not wish to spoil the enjoyment he had observed by those using the area as a recreation ground"

(Note: Local memories state that Mrs. Champney made the curtains herself and personally donated the full sized snooker table that used to be in the rear hall.  The rear hall was apparently an after-thought built some months later  We understand that Mrs Champney took the view that the men needed a place of their own away from the children.)

Death of Mr. Champney 1929
In his will dated 13th November 1926 Mr. Champney left the hall to the YMCA to be held as a village hall for the residents of Horton together with an endowment of £1,200 towards the upkeep.   Notes made in 1980 by a parish Councillor state that "The Parish Council at the time used the School House and their view was the Village Hall was for the 'workers recreation and social welfare'.

A copy of his will is available from the Gov probate search service.  The link is and the cost (at the time of writing) was £1.50.  To complete the form you will need the following information (folio 742):

(Note: Verbal history states that the reason the hall was donated to the YMCA was because Mr. &. Mrs. Champney were Quakers and had a disagreement with the Vicar because he spend a considerable time in the local 'public houses' when he should have been administering to his flock).

Horton Cottage
Title records also show that in his will Mr. Champney also instructed that his dwelling known then as Horton Cottage be used as a "Home of Rest" Later known as the "Gardeners Home" which in the 1970 became offices for Lloyds Bank with Dawn Redwood Close being built on the orchard to the rear.  The original but extended building being demolished and rebuilt in 2003/4 .  The Caretakers cottage is now known as “Freshfield”.

Champney Hall 1913 to 1974
Information gained shows that the hall was well used by the community, it also served as the sports hall and dining room for the village school, a doctors clinic and baby clinic.  These all closing together with the village school about 1974.   This loss of community provision appears to be the result of the change in local authority from Buckinghamshire to Berkshire.

1970/73 Files
Files held by Bucks Education Dept relating to the transfer from Bucks to Berks County Council, indicate that the hall did not meet current education requirements and was in need of considerable internal and external repair.

1975 - 1980
Records show that during these years a small committee of residents continued to manage the hall but although the hall was still well used, it was not covering running costs and funds to upgrade were difficult to obtain.  A number of public appeals were made with little or no response or interest from the village as a whole.

Early 1980
Betty Marlow, Barbara Hearne and others with young children applied to start a number of clubs for children/ young people in the hall.  Legislation having moved forward prior to starting they were required to obtained a Fire Officers report.  Unfortunately the Fire officer declared the hall a fire risk and instructed instant closure for public events (excluding meetings)

As the Hall was legally held by the YMCA they had to be consulted.  Although the hall had always been locally managed, the YMCA instructed that a new committee be formed and an improvement plan put in place.

New Management members were appointed: Richard Tillyer, Betty Marlow, and Clive & Barbara Hearne alongside previous members David Bartram, Bob Spennywyn, Michael Ardley and June Lucas.

During the next two/four years over 40K was raised through loans and grant aid allowing the hall to redesigned and upgraded. Through the efforts of Richard Tillyer national companies also contributed manpower or materials.

1985 YMCA changes - Proposal to Sell
Unfortunately in 1985, due to a change within the charitable structure of the YMCA, the custodianship of holding the hall in trust fell outside their charitable remit and an application was made to sell the hall.  The local committee after much discussion with the YMCA agreed to go to the Charity Commission to see if a compromise could be reached.

Over the next two years suggestions and possible charity schemes were discussed and rejected, but a solution was found on 12th November 1988

1989   New Charity Scheme
On the 4th January 1989 a scheme was sealed by the Charity Commission where 5 residents of Horton (Richard Tillyer, Betty Marlow, Clive Hearne, Bob Spennewyn and David Bartram) became the managing trustees for one year.  They also committed that at the end of that year a full management committee would be established.  All five provided personal financial guarantees thus accepting a considerable personal financial liability to ensure Horton retained a Village hall.  

1990   Full Charity Scheme established.

(a) The Parish Council by formal resolution would act a Custodian Trustees and underwrite any losses.
(b) A Committee of Managing Trustees as detailed within the scheme was established.

1991 to 2016.

Since 1991 Managing Trustees have come and gone, some were very committed and others helped as and when they could.  Through their collective efforts the hall is currently well maintained and covers its running costs.  Two of the original trustees still remain and have been supported since 1993 by Freda Bovington.  During this time Samantha Beldom took on cleaning, then bookings and then invoicing responsibilities.

Trustees for Life
A public meeting in 2000 wished to recognise the dedication of the remain two trustee and  passing a resolution to amend Clause 7 of the Charity Scheme and appointed Mrs Betty Marlow and Mr Richard Tillyer as Trustees for Life.

Betty Marlow prepared this potted history of Champney Hall on the halls 101st birthday to ensure that its history is not lost

2016 and forwards
Sadly Betty Marlow died in 2016.  Without the commitment of Samantha Beldom the day-to-day running of the hall would not work as smoothly as it does. A new committee was established comprising of the original stalwarts Richard Tillyer and Freda Bovingdon, and now Stuart Ingar, Samantha Beldom and Benta Hickley.  If anyone is interested in joining the committee or can offer any assistance please do not hesitate to 
contact the committee via the Parish Council Clerk

What is the Future?
Village life has also changed, legislation for public buildings has become complicated and expensive, and the original social needs for the hall have declined.

Unfortunately Champney Hall never has nor never will be able to complete with its near neighbours.  To remain financially viable Champney Hall does not have the income to pay full time caretakers or repair companies.  It will always need "can do" volunteers and they are very hard to find. If you can attend a meeting every few months, or have the time or commitment to be on call 24/7, or anything between, please let us know.  

2021 and forwards

Saima Maqbool joined the committee in 2019 representing Pumpkins Preschool who hire the schoolroom at the hall.  Stuart Ingar has put in a huge amount of work ensuring the fire detection system and the electrical systems is up to date and ensuring regular inspections are carried out as well as running the acvcounts and ensuring bills are paid etc.  He is now moving out of the village and is therefore leaving the Committee.  Two new volunteers have joined: Imran Mehmet-Khan and Carly Gibbons

Betty Marlow prepared this potted history of Champney Hall on the halls 101st birthday to ensure that its history is not lost


Open Spaces


The Arthur Jacob Nature Reserve

The wetland reserve is owned by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and is situated adjacent to the Colne Brook river in the village of Horton.

The site covers 4.6 hectares and has been created following gravel extraction from the previously derelict land.

There are four lagoons, some with islands, and the site has been extensively planted with trees, shrubs, wildflower meadows and aquatics. Dipping platforms and a bird hide are provided.

The site has been open to the public since May 1996.

Pedestrian access is from Poyle Poplars Community Woodland, Stanwell Road, where a small car park is situated.


About the Parish


The village of Horton lies in the central part of the Thames Valley on a broad, flat floodplain east of the River Thames and between Windsor to the West and Heathrow to the East. The parish has developed from farming settlements and has grown over time as people migrated from London.

Horton dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086, listed as "Hortune" (believed to be derived from "ort" or "wort" for herbs and vegetable, and "tun" for and enclosed garden). A number of historical landmarks include The Old Rectory, Horton Lodge, The Cedars, Brookfield, Milton's Cottage and St Michael's Church. 

It has been recorded that a foundry located at the end of Coppermill Road was the source for the copper that made the famous Copper Horse at the end of the Long Walk from Windsor Castle. A number of historical houses can still be found in the village, including the Grade II listed Old Rectory, believed to have been built at the end of the 16th Century/early 17th Century.

Perhaps the most significant landmark today is the 12th Century church of St Michael's, with its Norman arch over the north door. Indeed, the name most associated with the village is that of poet John Milton (1608-74), whose family rented Berkyn Manor, a house that belonged to Sir John Egerton between 1632 and 1640. Milton wrote many of the literary greats, including Comus, Il Penseroso and L'Allegro, whilst living in Horton. The chancel of St Michael's also contains the grave of Milton's mother Sara, and a 19th century stained glass window which commemorates Milton's poem Paradise Lost.

Through the Horton parish flows the Colne Brook which runs to the Thames from the River Colne

The agricultural floodplain that once lay south of Horton was mined for gravel during the post-war period and later filled with water, forming large artificial water storage reservoirs, which result in restricting expansion of development. This network of mature gravel pits is now used as lakes for emergency water supplies and recreational purposes; mainly angling, sailing and bird watching. Both Horton and its neighbour village of Wraysbury were transferred from Buckinghamshire to Berkshire in 1974.