Penn, Buckinghamshire


Holy Trinity parish church, Penn Street
 Penn shown within Buckinghamshire
Population 3,961 (2011 Census including Tylers Green)[1]
OS grid referenceSU912935
Shire countyBuckinghamshire
RegionSouth East
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town High Wycombe
Postcode district HP10
Dialling code 01494
Police Thames Valley
Fire Buckinghamshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK ParliamentChesham & Amersham
List of places

Coordinates: 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 the Chiltern district 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, containing Penn village and the hamlets of Beacon Hill , Penn Street, Knotty Green and Forty Green, plus Winchmore Hill, covers 3,991 acres (1615 ha).[2]


The name is Brythonic and comparable with the modern Welsh topynym Pen, this may be translated as hill top or end, and the village stands on a well-defined promontory of the Chiltern Hills. From the tower of the Holy Trinity Church in the village it is supposedly possible to see into eight other counties. There is also a beacon hill with a signal post on it in the village boundary.

Segraves Manor, the principal manor 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. William Penn (after whose father, Admiral Sir William Penn, Pennsylvania is named) erroneously believed himself to be a descendant of this family. However, in 1735 the manor passed from the unmarried Roger Penn to his only heir and sister, who was married to Lord Curzon. Penbury Grove House was built in 1902 by the American engineer Horace Field Parshall to be a replica of Pennsbury Manor, William Penn’s house in Pennsylvania.

Penn is reputedly haunted by the ghost of an 18th-century farm labourer, who appears, laughing, on a phantom horse.[3]

Penn Street, Knotty Green and Forty Green

Penn Street, Knotty Green and Forty Green are hamlets of the parish within a mile of the main village. Penn Street remains home to Earl Howe of the Penn-Curzon-Howe dynasty and the family's long influence on the village is evident all around Penn Street church. The churchyard contains items from Gopsall, Lord Howe's other country house in Leicestershire. The lych gate and Countess Howe memorial were moved from Congerstone in 1919, when the family sold the Gopsall Estate. Penn Street and Knotty Green have village commons, where Knotty Green Cricket Clubcricket plays in summer.[4] The Squirrel in Penn Street and The Red Lion in Knotty Green face their respective commons.

Penn today

The area is part of the Chiltern Hills and popular with people who work in London due to its proximity to road (junction 3 of the M40 motorway at Loudwater) and rail (Mainline rail at Beaconsfield and London Underground at Amersham) links into the city.

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

Penn has a non-League football club Penn & Tylers Green F.C. which plays at Elm Road.

Notable persons

The novelist Elizabeth Taylor died in Penn in 1975. Medical pioneers Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson and Dr Flora Murray and the children's writer Alison Uttley, author of the Little Grey Rabbit stories, are buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity. In 1983, the ashes of the British spy Donald Maclean were scattered in the churchyard. Ernest Saunders, one of the four men involved in the Guinness share-trading fraud, was also a resident. The actor and singer Stanley Holloway lived in Penn with his wife and son for many years during the 1950s and 1960s.[5] Violinist Peter Tanfield was born there. The art historian Sir Oliver Millar lived in the village for over fifty years. Chef and television personality Mary Berry and the actress Pauline Quirke also live in Penn. The philosopher Professor Sir Karl Popper lived in Manor Road for many years. Gabby Logan the TV presenter and her husband Kenny Logan, a former Scotland rugby union international, live in the village. The countertenor Michael Chance was born in the village.


  1. Neighbourhood Statistics 2011 Census, Accessed 2 February 2013
  3. Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 274. ISBN 9780340165973.
  4. Penn Street Cricket Club and
  5. Holloway, Stanley; Richards, Dick (1967). Wiv a little bit o’ luck: The life story of Stanley Holloway. London: Frewin. ASIN B0000CNLM5. OCLC 3647363. page 322
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