Penn, Buckinghamshire

Coordinates: 51°37′59″N 0°40′52″W / 51.633°N 0.681°W / 51.633; -0.681
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Holy Trinity parish church, Penn Street
Penn is located in Buckinghamshire
Location within Buckinghamshire
Population3,961 (2011 Census including Tylers Green)[1]
OS grid referenceSU912935
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townHigh Wycombe
Postcode districtHP10
Dialling code01494
PoliceThames Valley
AmbulanceSouth Central
UK Parliament
List of places
51°37′59″N 0°40′52″W / 51.633°N 0.681°W / 51.633; -0.681

Penn is a village and civil parish in Buckinghamshire, England, about 3 miles (4.8 km) north-west of Beaconsfield and 4 miles (6.4 km) east of High Wycombe. The parish's 3,991 acres (1,615 ha) cover Penn village and the hamlets of Penn Street, Knotty Green, Forty Green and Winchmore Hill.[2] The population was estimated at 4,168 in 2019.[3]


The name is Brittonic in origin, comparable with the modern Welsh typonym pen, and may mean "hill top" or "end". Penn stands on a strong promontory of the Chiltern Hills. From the tower of Holy Trinity Parish Church, it is claimed to be possible to see into several other counties.[4]

The Penn family[edit]

Segraves Manor, the principal seat in Penn, belonged to the Penn family. Sybil Penn, wife of David, was dry nurse and foster mother to King Edward VI and Lady of the Bed Chamber to his sister, Queen Elizabeth I.

The Penn estate directly benefited from the Slave Compensation Act of 1837. The family owned two plantations in Jamaica and a total of 210 individuals split between the Clarendon and the Oak plantations. The estate was awarded a total of 4095 pounds, the equivalent of half a million pound today.[5]

The Penn family of Penn were not known to be related to William Penn (after whose father, Admiral Sir William Penn, Pennsylvania is named), whose family came from Wiltshire. In 1735 the manor of Penn passed from the unmarried Roger Penn to his sole heir and sister, who was married to the 3rd Baronet Scarsdale, an ancestor of the Lords Curzon. Penbury Grove House was built in 1902 by the American engineer Horace Field Parshall as a replica of Pennsbury Manor, William Penn's house in Pennsylvania, Parshall wrongly thinking that these Penns shared a connection with Pennsylvania.


Penn is reputedly haunted by the ghost of an 18th-century farm labourer, who appears laughing, on a phantom horse.[6]

Commons and sports[edit]

Penn Street, Knotty Green and Forty Green are hamlets in the parish, each within a mile of the main village.

Penn Street and Knotty Green have village commons, where the Penn Street and Knotty Green cricket clubs play.[7][8] The local public houses, The Squirrel in Penn Street and The Red Lion in Knotty Green, face their respective commons. Forty Green also has a pub – The Royal Standard of England. Penn has a non-League football club, Penn & Tylers Green F.C., which plays at Elm Road.

Penn today[edit]

The area is part of the Chiltern Hills and popular with people who commute to London due to its proximity to road junction 3 of the M40 motorway at Loudwater, mainline rail at Beaconsfield and London Underground at Amersham, both linked with the city.

Penn remains home to Earl Howe of the Penn-Curzon-Howe dynasty, which gained more wealth through the Inclosure Acts, which gave legal property rights to land previously in communal use. In 1855, ownership of Common Wood and Penn Wood passed to the 1st Earl Howe, forcing many local people and their livestock off the land. This caused general unrest within the community. For centuries, villagers had sustained themselves by grazing their animals on the common and gathering what they could from the land. When the woods became private property, many were plunged further into poverty. Years of unlawful protest followed, when poaching was rife and fences were pulled down as local people tried to retrieve what they deemed legitimately theirs.[9]

Penn Street churchyard contains items from Gopsall, Lord Howe's other country house in Leicestershire. The lychgate and Countess Howe memorial were moved from Congerstone in 1919, when the family sold the Gopsall Estate.

In popular culture[edit]

The Cottage Bookshop in Penn was one location in "A Tale of Two Hamlets", an episode of the ITV television programme, Midsomer Murders. It was also used to film an episode called "Bookshop Chuckles" in the children's television show, ChuckleVision, and the three-acre set for Nanny McPhee was constructed there.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics 2011 Census Archived 21 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 2 February 2013.
  2. ^ "Parishes: Penn | British History Online". Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  3. ^ City Population., Retrieved 12 December 2020
  4. ^ "Penn village around Holy Trinity Church" (PDF). Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  5. ^ "Summary of Individual | Legacies of British Slavery". Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  6. ^ Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Ltd. p. 274. ISBN 9780340165973.
  7. ^ "Penn Street Cricket Club : home". Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  8. ^ "Home". Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  9. ^ "Penn Wood". Woodland Trust. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  10. ^ Holloway, Stanley; Richards, Dick (1967). Wiv a little bit o' luck: The life story of Stanley Holloway. London: Frewin. ASIN B0000CNLM5. OCLC 3647363. p. 322.
  11. ^ Soodin, Vince (12 December 2003). "Is this the time to put this sorry story to rest?". Bucks Free Press. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  12. ^ Anand, Anita (2015). Sophia : princess, suffragette, revolutionary. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781632860811. OCLC 881092758.
  13. ^ Magnus, Emma. "Mary Berry's former Buckinghamshire home on sale for £3.5 million". Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 November 2023.

External links[edit]