The Englefield Parish Magazine
The parish magazine was begun at the start of 1886 by the then Rector, ALC Heigham, who was an assiduous chronicler of village life until he left the parish ten years later. The magazine appeared every month under his name, even when he was away from the parish on holiday in resorts around the country and even as far away as Bad Homburg in Germany. This was no mean feat given that his copy had to be written out and sent to the printer for setting in metal type and printing. The diminishing number of people with experience of producing publications in the days before computers, email, laser printers and photocopiers will appreciate what a task this must have been. The magazine almost always ran to four octavo pages (roughly A5), sometimes only three but occasionally six.
In the time of ALC Heigham’s successor, Henry Savill Young, the magazine continued in production in the same format, though never carried his name and was sometimes notably thinner in content. When he moved on the next incumbent, Granville Gore Skipwith maintained the same format for a year then in 1905 changed it to a quarto size single leaf printed two sides.
While the magazines do provide a valuable historical record of events in the village that would otherwise go unrecorded, it is a source of frustration that the editor sometimes resorts to a degree of circumlocution and fails to provide essential details such as names. ALC Heigham was guilty of this in 1894 in connection with the new altar candlesticks and Henry Savill Young does the same thing in 1903 by referring to “…the loss of one who was in her days of health a regular communicant and attendant on the services of our Church”.
From its inception the magazine was priced at one penny a month and was still at this price in 1919, despite by then costing sevenpence a copy to print and the annual cost of production having risen from £18 to £33. In January that year various options were considered: to cease publication, to raise the price to threepence or to keep the price at one penny and invite subscribers who could afford to do so to make an extra contribution. In the event the last of these was chosen and several people did send in “generous additions”. However, as in previous years a number of subscriptions remained unpaid resulting in a dead loss overall of £11 on the year. At the end of the year, the printers’ wages having risen by seven shillings and sixpence a week, it was reluctantly decided that publication would have to cease.
The subject of the parish magazine was discussed occasionally by the Parochial Church Council and in 1939 a proposal to share a single publication with Ufton, Sulhamstead and Padworth was being considered. The war intervened, however, and that suggestion was dropped in 1940. With more modern technology available, the magazine made a return in 1964 as one or two leaves in A5 format and continues to this day, though now a more robust publication.
Granville Gore Skipwith had copies of the magazines produced from 1902 to 1919 bound in yearly volumes and these have provided a great deal of information about Englefield during the First World War that would have otherwise been unobtainable. Copies of the great majority of magazines produced between 1889 and 1904 were also kept by a former resident of the village.
The magazines published between 1889 and 1919 can be read by selecting from the index here.
St Mark's Church
© 2021 Richard J Smith