New vicar’s challenge after village congregations fall in numbers post Covid

The 12th century Holy Trinity Church, Penn, now with an average congregation of 54. Picture: Penn Church.

THE NEW vicar of Penn and Tylers Green will face the challenge of trying to increase congregations at both Holy Trinity, Penn and St Margaret’s, Tylers Green, following a significant fall in numbers since the pandemic, says a report produced by the churches themselves.

Two candidates have been shortlisted to become the new vicar and an announcement is expected this month (for update, see below).

A profile of the parish, published to give candidates an idea of what to expect, says: “The churches are still in recovery from Covid and lockdown and this is going to take some encouragement and outreach to those who still feel apprehensive.

“Holy Trinity has an ageing and slowly shrinking congregation, in common with much of the Church of England. Diminishing numbers attending church and an older age range of  congregation would appear to be the main challenges.

St Margaret’s, Tylers Green. Picture : Wikipedia

“St Margaret’s has a larger, younger congregation but many children have not returned to church since Covid, and we need to encourage young families to come and be part of the fellowship.”

The impact of the pandemic is seen in average attendances at the churches. In 2020 the average attendance was 80 at Holy Trinity and 120 at St Margaret’s. In 2021 the comparative figures were 54 and 85. 

The report says the fall in congregations is having a corresponding impact on the church’s finances. 

UPDATE, 3 APRILThe churches announced today that the Rev. Samuel Thorp, aged 30, who is currently a curate in Diss, Norfolk, is the new vicar. He is expected to take up his appointment in the summer.

Police investigate assault on middle school pupil walking home

POLICE were called after a pupil returning home from Tylers Green Middle School was pushed to the ground during an assault in Channer Drive.

Police said a man described as black, 20 to 30 years old and six foot tall stood in front of the girl before pushing her over and running away. He was wearing a long black jacket and black trousers.

The assault happened at about 3.30pm on Tuesday 28 February. The girl suffered grazed knees.

Police officers attended school assembly last week to talk to year 6 children about keeping themselves safe.

In a note to parents, head teacher Sam Isaacs said: “We are so proud of how (the pupil) reacted to something a child should never experience, particularly since our village is so safe.

“(The pupil) acted to keep herself safe and co-operated with the police in the investigation and to recover from the trauma.”

He added: “We move forward from this incident with a clear reminder of our duty to look out for one another and to make responsible and cautious choices to keep ourselves safe.”

Scouts prepare centenary celebration on the common for past and present members and supporters

PENN AND Tylers Green Scout Group is celebrating 100 years since its inauguration with a special event on the  back common to which it is inviting all scouts and cubs from this and previous years as well as past and present leaders and supporters.

The “birthday bash” is on the afternoon of Saturday 17 June, and is one of a number of events this year to celebrate the milestone. 

Next month beavers, cubs and scouts from the village will gather for a weekend group camp near Chesham and enjoy games and activities based on a “then and now” theme. There’ll also be facilities to enable “oldies” to camp with them.

One one cold and dark night in February this year the group’s all-girl team trekked 10 miles across countryside, mainly in the dark, navigating their way between bases and completing challenges at each base… and completed the task before their allocated time of midnight. Picture: Penn and Tylers Green Scout Group.

Last month the scouts spent a morning helping residents’ society members clear rubbish and litter in Penn’s Common Wood before spending an afternoon in the wood cooking, lighting fires and building shelters. Throughout the year beavers, cubs and scouts are collecting food to donate to the One Can Trust. 

See our celebration of 100 years of scouting and guiding in the village at the end of this blog.

Horse and Jockey improvements

Horse and Jockey plans submitted to the council’s planning committee showing new signage and lighting points.

THE Horse and Jockey pub in Church Road, Tylers Green will close for five weeks this month to enable major improvements to take place inside and out.

Its owners Star Pubs will refurbish the pub inside and refit the kitchen. Outside new signage and additional LED lighting is planned.

The pub closes on 15 April and is due to reopen on 19 May. Landlady Alex van Someren, who came from The Squirrel in Penn Street last year on a temporary basis, has been given a five year lease to stay at the pub.

Local news

Ashwells housing plan – A planning application for just over 100 homes on land off Ashwells, Tylers Green – the biggest housing development in the village for 50 years – will be submitted this summer. 

Buckinghamshire Council, who own the land, has appointed The Hill Group, an Essex-based building company which claims to be the second largest privately owned house builder in the country, to see through the development which  will comprise two, three, four, and five bedroom houses, an open communal space and landscaped gardens. An undisclosed proportion of the homes will fall into the “affordable” category.

Head confirmed Tylers Green Middle School governors have confirmed the appointment of  Sam Isaacs as the permanent school head. Mr Isaacs had been acting head teacher since the beginning of the school year. The governors have also approved an upgrade of the school’s swimming pool with the provision of a new plant room to improve water quality. A fund raising campaign is underway.

After the Easter break an organisation called Wraparound Childcare will be operating from the school enabling working parents to leave their children at the school between 7.45 am and 5.50pm.  They can provide breakfast, tea and after school fun activities.

Delivering milk in the 1930s. Picture: Wren Davis.

Farewell milko – Wren Davis, the Prestwood based dairy celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, ceased its deliveries in the village at the end of March after nearly 70 years. The company gave no reason, although the number of doorstep deliveries has fallen considerably in recent years.

Top vodkaPenn Street based distillery Griffiths Brothers won a gold medal for its vodka in a blind-tasting international competition in London.

Bats stop development – The possibility of protected bats nesting at the house known as Penbury Woods, Witheridge Lane, Penn is holding up a multi-million pound redevelopment of the site.  Plans have been approved for the demolition of the existing house and its replacement with a two storey home which includes a basement for a swimming pool, gym and other leisure facilities. 

However bat surveys need to be completed this summer after three protected pipistrelle bats were spotted emerging from locations on the existing building. If roosts are discovered a special licence will be needed for the redevelopment to go ahead.

The customer is always right! The Royal Standard of England pub in Knotty Green has apologised after a customer who was  eight-months pregnant was refused a chicken pie. The waiter and chef said the pie contained monosodium glutamate which they said could be risky for pregnant women. When the woman thanked them for their advice but said she still wanted the pie, they refused to serve it. Pub owner Matthew O’Keeffe told the Bucks Free Press the staff had acted in good faith but were being retrained on such issues.

Luxury hotel consultation – The developers hoping to transform Rayners, the former Penn School in Church Road, into a luxury hotel say they will hold a public consultation in the village before submitting a planning application in the summer.  They are planning a hotel with up to 35 bedrooms, a top class restaurant, a bistro, a cookery school and a spa.

Coronation tea Tylers Green Village Hall is arranging a Coronation tea party between 2 and 4pm on Sunday 7 May. Contact the hall for details. A talk entitled “Our Royal Connections”, organised by the residents’ society, is scheduled for 5 May in the hall while on Monday 8 May people interested in volunteering or finding out more about local organisations and charities will be able to chat to representatives over a cup of tea.

Choir’s date – The junior choir of Sir William Ramsay School  took part in a Voice in a Million concert at Wembley Arena on 15 March.

Cafe expandsA second branch of the Rose Avenue cafe Canny Cafe will open this month at the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden. 

Football festival – Hundreds of young people from the Wycombe area will converge on Penn and Tylers Green FC’s French Meadow ground between 28 April and 1 May for a six-a-side festival of football. 

Comedy festivalThe Potters Arms in Winchmore Hill is holding a comedy festival from 28 to 30 April in aid of the local hospitals’ trust  Scannappeal. 

A room with a view – for a mere £1000 per day

The Danes, overlooking the Thames Valley. Picture: Savills

IT GOES without saying that The Danes, snuggled in the hillside between Hammersley Lane and Beacon Hill with stunning views, is one of Penn’s more desirable properties.

Now, for any passing millionaire, it’s on the market to rent for £30,000 per month (plus fees), or £6,923.07p a week if you want to be precise.

Bit OTT for a six bedroom property perhaps, albeit opulently furnished. But then again it does include its own onsite staff – a housekeeper, a groundsman and a gardener – several living rooms, fabulous thatched roofs, classy decor, a tennis court and a view over the Thames Valley that’s breath-taking.

Not that you can please everyone. The gloriously grumpy, permanently angry people who enjoy spreading their negativity to items published on Mail Online, where this story was first announced, weren’t that impressed. One commented simply: “Thatch attracts rats.”

Hmm. But a better quality of rat surely.

After 600 years, a Penn relic is washed up by the Thames

A 600 year old gem among the pebbles and stones. Picture : Lara Maiklem

LONDON mudlarker Lara Maiklem has a keen eye for spotting historical gems among the stones and pebbles that wash up on the Thames shoreline every day. 

And what should pop up on 14 March but this 14th century floor tile made in Penn.

This simple flower pattern, similar to the one below, was one of 173 patterns the tilers of Penn and Tylers Green were churning out in the mid 14th century.

Picture: Lara Maiklem

In his book Medieval Penn Floor Tiles, village historian Miles Green writes: “The Penn tileries formed the most extensive, successful and well-organised commercial tile industry in medieval Britain.

“For over 40 years between the 1350s and the 1380s, Penn tilers secured something very close to a monopoly in the south-east and were manufacturing vast quantities of floor and roof tiles for royal palaces, monasteries and churches, manor houses and rich merchants’ houses in London and surrounding counties.”

The best examples of a Penn floor tiles can be seen at Windsor Castle but, not surprisingly perhaps, Penn’s Holy Trinity church also has some fine examples. 

A selection of the Penn Tiles Lara Maiklem has discovered on the banks of the Thames over the years. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, she has written two books on mudlarking. You can find out more on her website Picture: Lara Maiklem
Lara Maiklem. Picture: The Guardian.

PennFest charity offer

Volunteers at last years festival. Picture: PennFest

Penn Festival has said anyone who donates four hours of their time to collecting for the charity Child Bereavement UK at this year’s Penn Street event on  21 and 22 July can spend the rest of the day at the festival free of charge. More details on…/Category/festivals  

End of the road for Wycombe Hospital’s failing tower block

Picture: Buckinghamshire NHS Trust

DRAMATIC changes to our local hospital at Wycombe are to take place over the next five years.

The local health trust was told last month that the 50/60 year old concrete central tower block, which contains the bulk of the hospital’s services, has come to the end of its life. It is supported by scaffolding which will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

In a stark report to the trust board, chief commercial officer Ali Williams said: “If we take no action the building will cost so much to maintain and be so compromised that clinical services will become untenable. It will be no longer fit for clinical use. We need to start to decant the tower now.”

Ms Williams said the highly praised cardiac ward needs to be urgently rehoused and the trust board agreed to move the ward to another area of the site, together with the outpatients department, within the next 12 months. 

In the meantime the trust will apply for Government funding to close the tower by 2028 and replace it with a new surgical centre.  Operating theatres, the intensive care unit, stroke and maternity units are all in the tower block in addition to cardiac and out-patients.  Ms Williams said these key facilities need to be ‘delivered in facilities that the community deserve and expect”.

* The board was told that the arrival of 185 nurses and midwifes from other parts of the world to Wycombe, Amersham and Stoke Mandeville hospitals in the past year has helped relieve staff shortages at the Buckinghamshire NHS Trust, although there are still vacancies to be filled. 

Regional news

Clubhouse listed – The clubhouse at Beaconsfield Golf Course, pictured above,  has been given a Grade 2 listing by Historic England. It was completed just before the start of the First World War and designed by the architect Stanley Hinge Hamp who lived in and designed what is now Davenies School in the town. He was jointly responsible for the redesign of the Savoy Hotel in London in 1910.

Decaying roadsCouncil leader Martin Tett, who has been inundated with complaints about the state of Buckinghamshire’s roads, has admitted most reported potholes are being filled in as a temporary measure because roads need to be dry and the weather warmer before permanent repairs can be made. He said the county is spending £100m over the next four years fixing roads, but this year it has found an extra £5m from its own reserves and will receive £2.3m from the Government to speed up the repairs.  He warned though that repairing every pothole will be “very challenging”.

Hospital services hit – Around 900 outpatient appointments and over 50 medical procedures were postponed in Buckinghamshire hospitals during the three day junior doctors strike over pay last month. The NHS Buckinghamshire Trust employs around 400 junior doctors, who account for around half its medical workforce.

Golf course for sale The John Lewis group is selling its golf course at Winter Hill, Cookham and is in talks with the committee of Maidenhead Golf Club which relinquished its lease on its town centre golf club site for a reported £16million so the land could be used for housing. 

Drugs challenge – A report outlining a new drugs strategy for Buckinghamshire says that one in three sixth formers in the county say they have been offered drugs. 

Print sales fall – The Bucks Free Press  newspaper sold an average 7,600 copies a week last year – down from the 10,078 copies it sold when it last released its circulation figures four years ago. However, like other local news outlets in the country, its online audience is increasing. In January it had 1.6 million page views on its website – an increase of 58 per cent compared to the same month last year.

This Mini, which was discovered in a lockup garage near Aylesbury where it had been parked, untouched, for 32 years, sold at auction last month for £39,100. With less than 12,000 miles on the clock, it was said to be in a remarkable condition. Picture: Classic Car Auctions.

Jail ‘in turmoil’ – Our local prison at Aylesbury, which became a category C jail last October after years as a young offender institution, is “in turmoil” according to a report by the Prisons Inspectorate. It criticised the Government for failing to give enough support for the transition and said some prisoners were spending up to 23 hours a day locked in their cells. The report said the risk to the local community was increased as “high risk offenders are being released with little to no work to reduce their risk of reoffending.”

Bus supportHeathrow and Buckinghamshire Council have stepped in to help fund most bus services through Slough after heavily indebted Slough Council withdrew virtually all its financial support for bus services.

Police rejig – A public consultation on rearranging the structure of Thames Valley Police ends on 28 April.  You can read about the plans and comment on this link

Tales around the camp fire – how scouting has grown and prospered in Penn and Tylers Green

The Tylers Green Scout Troop in 1926

IT WAS  hardly surprising scout and guide groups were launched here in Tylers Green quite early as both Sir Robert Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes, who founded the scout and guide movement, had links with the village. 

Capt Granville Soames, a great-nephew of the Baden-Powells, lived in Ashwells Manor, Tylers Green and was the scouts county commissioner in Buckinghamshire.

Very likely, therefore, that he was key in persuading the local vicar, the Rev Gerald Hayward, to start the ball rolling. (Incidentally, Capt Soames’ son Christopher, who was born at Ashwells Manor, went on to marry Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter Mary.)

The first Tylers Green girl guides company was formed in 1922. Picture:Chepping Wycombe Parish Council.

In 1922 the village guides formed their company and on 28 May, 1923 the first Tylers Green Scout Troop came into being with 14 lads and a couple of scoutmasters, a Mr Stringer and a Mr Holmes, both of whom lived in St John’s Road.

In August that year they all attended the first county rally in Aylesbury along with 1,200 other scouts where they were addressed by Baden-Powell himself. The great story-teller and war hero enthralled them with tales of his adventures as a boy when visiting the county.  

“There is no bird I have ever tasted since those days which tasted better than the Aylesbury sparrows we used to cook ourselves,” he told them. Needless to say things have changed considerably since then, but the taste for adventure and outdoor fun remains the same.

Ready for action in 1936, the same year Tylers Green Village Hall opened.

The movement grew rapidly in the village with the introduction within a few years of Wolf cub packs for younger boys and a Rover scout pack for older boys.

Just before the start of the Second World War in 1939, the couple who ran the scouts and cubs, Mr and Mrs Appleyard, left the village, so the group was unable to carry on. Some of the scouts here joined the Hazlemere troop and formed their own Tylers Green patrol – the Owls – and were able to help the war effort.

The scouts were out of action in the village in the war because there were no leaders but the guides carried on, pictured here in 1940 by the Horse and Jockey collecting waste paper for the war effort.

In the early 1950s scouting in the village revived with the help of the new vicar of St Margaret’s, John Siderfin, and  was renamed the 1st Penn and Tylers Green. Later, in a reorganisation, it acquired its  present name, the 26th High Wycombe (Penn and Tylers Green). In 1974 the ever growing group moved into the guide and scout HQ next to the Ashley Drive allotments where it  still resides.

Penn and Tylers Green scouts show off their skills at the 1955 Wycombe Show.

Today, as in previous years, the group is an integral and important part of the Penn and Tylers Green community.

It has 70 members, both boys and girls, aged between six and 15 and another 30 on its waiting list. They have the facilities to take on board the 30 waiting, and would love to do so, but a lack of helpers and adult supervisors means they are constrained. 

Always prepared: 1961 in Tylers Green Parish Room...
and a more updated uniform by the mid-60s.

For the last 30 years the scouts have raised funds for themselves and latterly for local charities by delivering Christmas cards in the area. They estimate they have dropped well over 30,000 cards through village letter-boxes. 

Another big fund-raiser is the twice yearly jumble sales in the village hall (the next one is 22 April and again helpers needed – call 07376 071686 if you can lend a hand), which have become something of a village tradition over the last 50 years.

1989 – victorious Penn and Tylers Green cubs celebrate winning the local swimming championships.
2008 – Penn and Tylers Green cubs commemorate 100 years of scouting on the common.
Just a few of the headlines over the years.

*A more detailed history of the Penn and Tylers Green Scouts, researched by Group Scout Leader Roger Chinn and his wife Lynn, is featured in the October and February issues of Village Voice, from which some of the details in this account have been taken. Thanks also for contributions and photos for this article to Bill Wheeler, Ken Allen and members of the Penn and Tylers Green Scout Group.

*If you have any amusing or memorable stories to tell about your scouting days then please send an email to the address below. I’ll send them onto the scout group for their celebrations and publish some here on the blog.

You can contact this blog at It is next scheduled to be fully updated on 1st May.