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Holy Trinity, Penn, Buckinghamshire

(51°37′48″N, 0°40′40″W)
SU 916 932
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Cristian Ispir
  • Ron Baxter
26 October 2011

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Feature Sets

Penn is a village in the Chiltern Hills, squeezed between the towns of High Wycombe and Beaconsfield. It consists of houses and the church and a chapel built along a minor road that threads its way between these two large settlements.

The church consists of a chancel with a S chapel; a nave with a S aisle and N and S porches; and a 14thc W tower. The chancel and its chapel are of the 14thc but they were rebuilt in brick in 1736, retaining the reticulated E window, and at this time the church was substantially remodelled– it may have fallen into disrepair. The chancel arch is segmental and of the 18thc. The S arcade is of three unequal bays: bay 1 is wide with a segmental arch and pier 1 is square in plan; bay 2 is narrow and pointed, while pier 2 is rectangular and almost as wide as bay 2; bay 3 is also pointed but wider than bay 2. This irregularity must also be a result of the 18thc remodelling. The 15thc N porch protects the main entrance, while the S porch is 18thc work and has been converted for use as a store. The S elevation appears curiously domestic, owing to the decision made by the 18thc restorers to roof the nave and aisle with a great pitched roof whose single span covers a vestry built alongside the tower too; and to pierce it with dormers to light the aisle. In 1865 the E wall of the chancel was again rebuilt. As for materials, the medieval work is of flint and the 18thc work of brick, while the fabric of the tower included a good deal of tile. The only Romanesque work here is found in the stem and plinth of the font.


Penn is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, but by the 13thc the overlordship belonged to the Honour of Leicester, later passing to the Honour of Lancaster (as Weston Turville qv). The tenancy was held by the Turvilles - William and his wife Isabel are the first mentioned in connection with this manor, in 1197-1200. In 1222 William’s son, also William, died with no male heir and the manor was divided between his three sisters. In the same year the manor was sub-infeudated in two parts; one held by James Penn which remained in the Penn family until the 18thc (Penn Manor) and the other held by Stephen de Segrave (Segraves Manor).

The church belonged to Segraves Manor, but at the sub-infeudation of 1222 was retained by the Turville heirs. In 1241 it was given to the priory of Chalcombe (Northants) in whose hands it remained until the Dissolution.





The font stem and its base, and the plinth on which it stands are 12thc work, while the curious lead-sheet bowl is certainly not – VCH suggests a 17thc date. What it replaced was presumably a Purbeck import damaged beyond repair.


Buckinghamshire County Council, Historic Environment Record 0447100000.

EH, English Heritage Listed Building 44496.

VCH, Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. III , London 1925, 235-40.

N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, yyy.