The Sentinel was a self-styled ‘popular monthly journal’ published by Thomas E Luff of Peascod Street, Windsor, who was a printer and stationer in the mid 1880s (ref. D/P149/28/54). The editor was anonymous, but may have been Mr Luff himself. Whoever he was, his opinions were very critical of life in the area and he comes across as someone who is opposed to change with traditional views. The whole thing is full of the editor’s often idiosyncratic opinions making it an interesting item to read.
Ruin brought to thousands
The October 1885 issue includes an article on the local contest of the forthcoming General Election; and another encouraging new blood in Windsor Town Council. In November 1886 the Municipal election is described as a 'fiasco' and a 'total farce'. The December 1885 issue includes an article on the recent General Election and one entitled 'The Rector's Latest', criticising the Revd Arthur Robins, rector of Windsor Holy Trinity for campaigning for better homes for the poor in the borough. This 'Homes of the Poor Scheme' came in for criticism again in April 1886, and in September he was criticised for publishing accounts of unhealthy sanitary conditions and disease in Windsor, because it put off shoppers. In November 1886 an article entitled 'Windsor - Viewed Socially, Sociably, and ''Socialistically''', disapproved of all charitable distribution of alms to the poor, as 'by the destruction of all feelings of self-help and reliance, ruin may be brought to thousands'.
A grasping and unfair nature
The January 1886 issue includes an article on Parliament, opposing Home Rule for Ireland and noting that 'the Soudanese [sic] are, unfortunately, causing trouble on the imaginary frontier line in Upper Egypt'; and an article on Queen Victoria's annual New Year's gifts to the poor, with the comment, 'it is a difficult, if not impossible, task to satisfy most poor families, for they are naturally of a grasping and unfair nature' and accused the selection of recipients as unfair. There are also articles in several issues on the ‘Windsor House of Commons’, a newly established 'amateur Parliament' held in the Town Hall.
Christmas gifts for young and old
Shopping appeared to be dear to the editor’s heart. In December 1885 an article on 'Christmas Trading' criticised shopkeepers for selling goods usually stocked by others; perhaps ironically on another page, is an advertisement for 'Xmas presents for young & old' stocked by Thomas Luff himself. Advertisements for Willis & Son's bicycle and tricycle depot and trial ground appear in several issues). The May 1886 issue includes article in support of the Windsor & Eton Early-Closing Association's success in persuading shops to close at 5 pm on Wednesdays. In December 1886 an article criticises 'Christmas draws' offered illegally in local shops – which of course attracted shoppers there over more law abiding retailers.
Dripping blood and naked swimmers
There are examples of local colour and indeed smell: in December 1885 there is reference to 'a Lady of rank ... having to risk being run over by walking out in the road when passing butchers shops in Peascod Street, or spoiling her dress and mantle by the blood dripping from the necks of freshly killed sheep, which are often hanging about their establishments'. In May 1886 an article on the Lovers' Walk, a lane by the main road from Windsor to Winkfield, running from Spital to Clewer, complained fastidiously of a 'stench' arising from the brook beside it.
The June 1886 issue includes an article entitled 'The Bathing Scandal', disapproved of 'the indecent bathing exhibitions daily taking place' in the river Thames, by boys from Eton College, soldiers and others, who swam naked, which the writer thought was 'disgusting'. The following month things had got even worse, as 'the riverside walk from the Ferry to the Church at Clewer is becoming daily more repulsive, from the fact that men and boys are allowed to bathe at all times of the day'; and note that 'the parents who sanctioned their children (only recently recovered from an infectious disease) being taken into a recreation ground, and allowed to mix with other children, are deserving of the severest censure'.
These were just some of the interesting aspects of this self-published journal. If you would like to find out more, why not visit and take a look at the original. Please see our Planning a Visit page for details on how to book.