Sir William Herschel

Sir William Herschel


Sir William Herschel who was born in Hanover in 1738 and named Friedrich Wilhelm came to England as a musician but later became involved in the study of astronomy while still actively working in the field of music. Particularly in Bath where he was made director of the Bath orchestra in 1776. During 1781 he made his great astronomical discovery, the planet Uranus, which resulted in a call to Windsor to meet King George the Third who offered him the position of Royal Astronomer. This he accepted and soon after he moved to various homes in the Datchet, Windsor and Slough area. Finally settling in Observatory House in the Windsor Road where he built and set up his Forty-Foot telescope, and continued both his studies and the manufacture of his famous hand polished mirrors used in these large magnification telescopes. During this time he became acquainted with and in 1788, married Mary Pitt the widow of his friend John Pitt. Mary being the daughter of John Baldwin, also commemorated in the church.


After his death in 1822 he was interred in a vault in the base of the tower and a commemorative Grecian tablet by J. Theakston placed on the north side of the arch leading to the chancel. Ten years later his widow Dame Mary Herschel was interred in the same vault and a further tablet placed above that of her husbands. During the refitting of the church these memorials were removed and replaced on the north wall of the tower adjacent to and above the family vault.


The church was refitted with all new timber pews and many parishioners made separate donations for specific items.


For example: - the communion table and chairs, altar rails, altar cloth, and new service books.


Mrs. Champneys, the wife of the rector donated the window, made by Mr. Willement, in the south wall adjacent to the pulpit. As already mentioned Mr. Willement gave the two windows above the altar, but since replaced by windows donated by Col. Michael Ward and made by The White Friar Co.


The old organ was removed, extended and taken to St. Peters church, Chalvey to be replaced by a new organ donated by the Misses Nixey, the sisters of Mr. Nixey a well known benefactor to Slough churches. Who had previously bought the old rectory, and on the site built a home named Springfields, known later as Upton Towers. But colloquially called Black Lead Castle by the residents of the town in allusion to his wealth accrued from the sale of black lead polish used by so many households for polishing their iron grates and ranges in those days.


With the completion of the work, including the landscaping of the churchyard, supervised by the architect Mr. Ferry, the mason Mr. Harley and the contractor Mr. Snowball. Came the time to consecrate the newly extended Old Upton Church.




Herschel Window

The William Herschel Society, Bath, UK

Bath Preservation Trust