Parish Reading Room, founded 1886

Rev. Alfred Preston's Reading Room closed in 1879, and was followed by the Literary Institute which ran its own reading room (1880-86). That was a non-sectarian organisation in which Anglicans and Nonconformists co-operated, but wasn't financially viable. Mr Chinnery of Winslow Hall agreed to subsidise a new Parish Reading Room but only on condition that it was run by the vicar, Rev. H.A. Douglas-Hamilton. It continued on the same premises (14C Market Square). The people mentioned in the first report all appear to have been Anglicans and Conservatives.

1886: Bicester Herald, 3 Dec
  The premises situate in the Market-square, Winslow, were opened on Monday evening, November 29, as a parish reading room and working men’s club.  There was a capital attendance of members present.  Among them were- the Vicar (who is the manager), the Rev. T. Gwilliam, Dr. Newham, Messrs. C. Colgrove, G. George G. Ingram, G. Lee, J. Jennings, H. Sharp, R. Matthews &c.  The Vicar commenced the proceedings and said that for the benefit of those who were not present at the meeting in the Yeates’ school, he would just say that the reading-room was open for the benefit of the parish, irrespective of creed.  He then read the rules of the rooms, printed copies of which were distributed amongst the members.  In conclusion he said he did think they had great cause to thank Mr. Chinnery for his kind help in starting the new institute.

  Mr. Chinnery said he hoped the institute would prove a great success.  He was very pleased to do all he could to help them; but the idea was not his, but the vicar’s.  He thought they would find the rooms a great comfort, and hoped they would stick to them.  Mr. Chinnery then went on to say that they required other public buildings- a public room and public baths- and although at present only a stranger amongst them, yet he had taken a house for 14 years; and when they could see their way clear he should be happy to subscribe. (Cheers.)

  The Vicar said one reason why the Literary Institute felt through was because the members did not pay up their subscriptions, so the one thing they must insist on would be prompt payment.

  Dr. Newham said, having been a parishioner for 30 years, he might, as representing Winslow, say he thought it was their duty to pass a unanimous vote of thanks as well to the Vicar as Mr. Chinnery for their kindness in starting this institute.  They wanted a place of this kind badly, where a man could go into.  He might go into a public-house, and personally, he (the speaker) had no objection to a man doing that, or having a game of cards, if he wanted; but he begged to submit that it was much better to come to a room like this. (Cheers.)

  Mr. G. George seconded the vote of thanks, and the opening proceedings terminated.

1886: Buckingham Advertiser, 12 Dec
Mr. Chinnery has presented the Winslow Reading-room with sets of Scott’s, Dickens’, Kinsley’s, and Thackeray’s works, beautifully half-bound.

1887: Buckingham Advertiser, 19 Feb
  In connection with the Reading Room, a Free and Easy Smoking Concert was held at the Bell Room on Wednesday evening, when there was a large attendance, including Mr. H. J. Chinnery, who presided, Messrs. Willis, M. Lowndes, Cressy, Vaisey, C. Fiennes, C. R. Swain, Monk, C. Colgrove, W. J. Viccars, E. White, Dr. Newham, Revs. H. A. Douglas-Hamilton, S. T. Gwilliam, &c.  The stage left from the Theatricals, was utilised for the performers who were accompanied by Mr. G. D. Day on the piano.  Mr. Fiennes (who was the “star” of the evening) was first called upon and made his appearance in costume which in stage nomenclature would probably be called that of “the heavy father”… Mr. Fiennes next gave a funny piece, it could hardly be called a song entitled “You can’t do it”, and in response to loud demands gave three more verses of a decidedly Conservative character.- The Vicar then said he was quite sure they would not like to separate without thanking the friends who had helped them, more especially Mr. Swain who had come from Buckingham (a voice ‘He’s the best singer of the lot’) and Mr. Fiennes who had come from Newport Pagnell on purpose.  They called it a free and easy concert but he was afraid Mr. Day would go away and say it was not very free for they had boxed him to the piano all the evening so he hoped they would give him a very hearty vote of thanks for his services.  One thing he must say that they had had such a pleasant evening that they must repeat again it before long (cheers).- The meeting then gave three cheers and “he’s a jolly good fellow” for the chairman, and after singing the National Anthem, the meeting which commenced at at 8.45 concluded a few minutes after 11.

1887: Buckingham Advertiser, 15 Oct
  A “Free and Easy” entertainment in connection with the Parish Reading Room, was held on Tuesday evening, at the Bell Rooms.  Owing to other events in the neighbourhood, the attendance was not so large as on previous occasions, but those present spent a very pleasant evening.  The Rev. F. W. Saulez presided in the absence through indisposition of the Vicar, and Mr. Day officiated at the piano.

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Copyright 6 April, 2021