Church makes safeguarding changes after Tylers Green clerical abuse report

The Sunday Times report included an interview with the widow of the Tylers Green man who was so tormented by the abuse he suffered and witnessed that he took his own life. 

THE Church of England is changing its safeguarding procedures following the independent report into abuse by Michael Hall, former vicar of St Margaret’s in Tylers Green (see last blog).

In November safeguarding officers from every parish in the Oxford Diocese will hold a workshop designed to put into practice recommendations in the report aimed at preventing situations similar to those that occurred during Rev Hall’s tenure between 1981 and 2000.

Nationally, the church’s law-making body, the General Synod, has begun formulating a new ‘Clergy Conduct Measure’ which will hold clergy to stricter controls on standards of behaviour and define punishments for those transgressing.

The church has already launched a formal and easier process  for making complaints about clergy and is to consider a recommendation to the General Synod suggesting that “penalties should be applied to a bishop who disregards a recommendation not to ordain, where the recommendation is subsequently shown by the ordinand’s behaviour to be justified.”

As a direct result of the Michael Hall case, the  diocese and the church generally is working out a new system to better monitor complaints against clergy, including those made anonymously.

One of the criticisms of the church in the report was that it had no systematic record of filing complaints or accusations made against Mr Hall from those in the Tylers Green parish.

The independent investigation into Michael Hall  received publicity in the national press, including a full page report in the Sunday Times. At least two independent TV production companies are working on documentaries looking at the case, its causes and its repercussions.  Lawyers are also involved in potential actions for damages against the church on behalf of some of those most seriously affected by the vicar’s abuse.

Our hole in the wall is saved

THERE has been a wide level of public approval following a consultation over the proposals to convert Rayners – the former Penn School – into a luxury hotel complex.

There’s also some relief that the plans have been adjusted to ensure that a little piece of local history keeps its place.

The entrance to the development, off Church Road, Penn, will be slightly widened if planning permission is granted, but not enough to dislodge Penn’s famous hole in the wall. 

Over the years there’s been much speculation as to why a perfectly rounded hole was inserted into a perfectly built wall.

But war veteran Bill Wheeler vividly recalls it being put in place and the reason why.

Back in 1940, after the evacuation of the bulk of the British Army at Dunkirk, there were genuine fears that a German military invasion of this country was imminent. Communities throughout Britain – and, in particular, the Home Guard units that had been formed – were encouraged to use their initiative and come up with schemes that would hinder, harass or even destroy any invasion force.

In Penn they came up with the idea of the hole in the wall. 

The thinking was devilishly simple. When word got out that a column of enemy tanks was en-route to Penn from Beaconsfield or High Wycombe a tree would be felled to block Church Road with a sizeable proportion of its trunk placed through the hole to keep it secure.

Once the line of tanks stopped to clear the obstruction the Penn partisans would appear from behind walls and hedges armed with explosives and guns and take on the enemy.

Hence, the Rayners hole in the wall isn’t just any hole in the wall, but a remarkable example of Penn’s defences and the resoluteness and bravery of those prepared to risk their lives in that defence.  It deserves to be retained and maintained. 

Red tape delays dirty work

Something undesirable emerges near the picnic bench in the Horse and Jockey car park. Picture published in the Bucks Free Press.

THAMES Water has apologised after a broken sewer pipe in the village took longer to repair than anticipated partly because of the time it took to require permits to complete the work.

In April part of the Horse and Jockey car park in Church Road, Tylers Green, collapsed leaving a large sinkhole.

While the pub owners, Thames Water and Buckinghamshire Council argued over who was responsible for filling it in, things took a distinct turn for the worse on 18 July when the sinkhole began to stink and raw sewage started appearing in neighbouring gardens and the pub car park.

Twelve hours later Thames Water confirmed that a waste pipe running from the car park down to the Potters Cross water pumping station at the end of New Road  – and underneath houses in New Road – was broken. 

A fleet of  tankers was called in to be available every minute of every day to dispose of  waste while engineers sealed the pipe and closed part of the pumping station.

At first Thames Water estimated it would take up to three weeks to repair, but in the event it took 25 days, with work completed on 11 August.

The water company said: “Due to the pipe’s location and obtaining permits required to carry out the work, the repair took longer to finish.  We apologise to residents and businesses who were impacted by this issue.”

This isn’t the first time raw sewage has escaped from broken pipes in the village. There was a similar breakage in the area four or five years ago and three or four years ago raw sewage appeared in gardens around the village hall. 

Thames Water declined to enter into a debate as to whether Tylers Green has a particular problem or whether proposed new houses in the area will make things more difficult. A number of other villages in the country have experienced problems because their sewage systems have not had the capacity to deal with a big upsurge in new properties.

The company said it expresses its views on new developments as and when planning applications are submitted. 

Aussies donate their cricket fines to Ron’s charity walk total

JUST to show there’s no hard feelings, the Australian cricket team donated their cricket fines to Ron Hedley’s  walks in aid of Prostate Cancer  UK this summer.

No, not the Aussies who somewhat fortuitously retained the Ashes.  But the Australian over-60s touring team who actually failed to beat their Poms equivalent in their international fixtures.

Prostate cancer sufferer Ron, of Old Kiln Road, Tylers Green, and his wife Pat have been joined in sponsored walks by hundreds of fellow cricket enthusiasts throughout the country as he raises thousands of pounds in conjunction with the Bob Willis Fund.

Ron Hedley, left, with former England batsman Matthew Maynard on a march supported by Glamorgan County Cricket Club. Picture: Bob Willis Fund.

He met up with the Australians in Truro where they were playing Cornwall over 60s/70s and where all of them took a short walk by the ground before enjoying a day’s cricket.

They may all be veterans but they all take their cricket seriously, with both sides fining their players for any misdemeanours. As the Aussies were ending their tour they handed over their £300 in fines to Ron’s fund.

A group of Ron’s marchers celebrate on the peak of the Sugar Loaf summit in the Brecon Beacons.

Walk venues this summer have included the Getty family estate at Wormsley,  near Stokenchurch, Bucks, which includes one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the country; a walk hosted by Derbyshire Cricket Club’s charity foundation; and a walk to the top of Sugar Loaf in the Brecon Beacons (Ron couldn’t make the peak unfortunately) organised with the help of  Glamorgan County Cricket Club.

This month and next there are walks hosted by cricket clubs in Oxfordshire, Somerset, Hampshire and Cambridgeshire.  You can find out more and donate on

Local news

Hotshots – The Penn and Tylers Green under-14s were age-group winners of the South Bucks Cricket League this summer. Picture: Penn and Tylers Green Cricket Club.

School air conditioning – Tylers Green First School has applied to the council for permission to install air conditioning units in the classrooms and the adjoining Little Oaks Nursery. 

Five external air conditioning units would only be visible to people visiting the school, which is in the Tylers Green Conservation Area and celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2026. The school has also told the council it is looking for a “carbon friendly solution” to heat the classrooms. 

New bus timetables Arriva Buses is changing its Penn to High Wycombe timetable from 3 September, with a half-hourly service Monday to Saturday and hourly on Sundays. The route number is also changing from number 31 to number 11. Carousel Buses, which runs a service every 15 minutes between Amersham and High Wycombe on weekdays has introduced a short diversion every hour to include Penn Street and Winchmore Hill. 

Crash prosecution – Criminal charges are to be laid following the death of a 20 year old moped rider  at the junction of Hammersley Lane and London Road two years ago. 

Nesaar Khan was on his way home to Wooburn Green after finishing his shift at the KFC restaurant in Wycombe Retail Park when he was involved in a collision with a Suzuki Jimny.  Coroner Crispin Giles Butler suspended Mr Khan’s inquest after the Crown Prosecution Service said it was launching a legal case.

Jamboree to remember Back home from a World Scout Jamboree that turned out to be rather more eventful than expected is 17 year old Sophie Newcombe of Kite Wood Road,Tylers Green. Over 40,000 scouts from around the globe endured excessive heat, filthy showers and toilets and even an outbreak of Covid 19 before the UK pulled out its delegation of 4,500 scouts from the campsite early enabling the youngsters to spend the rest of the visit in relative luxury in central Seoul, South Korea. Nonetheless, Sophie said the trip was well worth it, and she particularly enjoyed meeting scouts from all over the world. 

Cottages restored – Three grade 2 listed cottages which had double glazed UPVC framed windows put in without listed building consent are to have the windows and frames replaced so they will look much more like the original. 

Japonica,  Kenilworth and Snowdrop Cottage in Elm Road, Penn were fitted with the out-of-character windows about a decade ago without necessary planning permission.  Now, the Penn Estate, which owns the cottages, has applied for permission to replace them with single glazed, wooden framed windows in the traditional style. The cottages were built in the 1800s for estate workers and are in the Penn and Tylers Green Conservation Area. 

Parking consultation Residents in Burrows Close, Penn are to be consulted to see what action, if any, they want to see to deter an increasing amount of all-day parking in the road  by non-residents. Meanwhile, a council decision is due this month on proposals to greatly increase double yellow lines in Penn and Tylers Green (see March blog).

Ex-pupil dies aged 25 – The Spirit of Penn School Society has announced the sudden death of  Bob Patterson, who was a  pupil at the former school for children with communication challenges and who “embraced life with great gusto”.  He was 25 and suffered a fatal asthma attack. 

Parish councils reviewed The new Penn and Tylers Green and Loudwater ward of Buckinghamshire Council will have the highest number of electors per councillor in the whole of the county once Parliament has approved the new boundaries in the next few weeks. The two elected councillors will represent an electorate of 10,204, which is 12 per cent  higher than the average.

In the meantime the council is to conduct a public consultation next year – part of a community governance review – which will consider whether current parish council boundaries are appropriate.

Tourism award – Penn Street distillery Griffiths Brothers has been awarded a Travellers’ Choice award for the third year running by contributors to Tripadvisor, nearly all of whom gave it the top award of five stars for its distillery tours.

Changing shopsThe former Mccoll’s  newsagents at Hazlemere Crossroads is to open as a Wenzel’s bakery this month, while the Hazlemere Lighting shop, also at the crossroads, is closing after 38 years.

The not so lonely long-distance runner – Keiron Horn, 45, was unwell on the morning of the Penn Seven. Which was a shame because he was sponsored to run the race for several hundred pounds mainly to help a friend with a rare form of cancer who’s in hospital long term. 

However, a chat with the ever-obliging organisers of the Penn Seven and Fun Run provided a solution. They brought out the start and finish banners; the starting gun and the finishing tape and arranged for Keiron, of Holmer Green, to run the race all by himself (with accompanying cyclist) early in the morning several weeks later. He completed the seven mile course in just over an hour.

Picture above of Keiron with his medal and the Penn Seven team on the common (plus Rex the dog complaining his walk has been delayed) by David Pitron.

Top end property prices slide

AN EXAMPLE of how property prices have taken a knock this year: the lovely 16th century farmhouse, Parsonage Farm, above, which was on the market for £4.75million in January has now been given a suggested price tag of £3.95million.

The Grade 2 listed property was the Penn home of former international rally driver Paddy Hopkirk MBE, who died last year age 89, and his wife Jenny. 

Similarly, Mary Berry’s former home, Watercroft, below,  in Church Road, Penn, which was up for sale for £3.75 million in May is now inviting offers in the region of £2.95 million. Pictures: Savills

Thousands of new homes planned on our doorstep…

Farmers have worked the fields of the Gomm Valley for over a thousand years, but this year’s harvest could be the last. Houses are to be built in the valley, the last undeveloped dry valley in the High Wycombe area. Picture (2021) by Barbara Griffiths

PLANS TO  build around 2,500 new homes in and around Penn and Tylers Green in the next few years are moving apace.

Here’s the latest position:

  • Ashwells Field, off Cock Lane, Tylers Green – Developer, the Hill Group,  says it intends to build 109 homes on the site in one go, rather than over a phased period as previously suggested. An outline planning application will be submitted later this year followed by a detailed application. If approved, building work should start next summer.
  • Gomm Valley, between Hammersley Lane and Cock Lane, Tylers Green – Developers Taylor Wimpey and council planning officials are still in discussion following this year’s public consultation.  An outline planning application for around 600 homes is expected to be submitted before the end of the year. UPDATE: Amended plans were submitted on 15 September – more details in the October blog.
  • Abbey Barn Lane, Wycombe Marsh, around two miles from Penn and Tylers Green – Berkeleys Homes last month submitted an outline plan to build 550 houses and apartments on the Abbey Barn North site. An adjacent site, further up the hill and now called Abbey Barn Park, was completed this year with around 500 homes and apartments.
  • Tralee and Orchard End farms, Hazlemere, just over a mile from Penn and Tylers Green – Amended plans for nearly 350 homes were put forward by various developers last month on this hotly disputed Green Belt land off the Amersham Road, opposite the Gravelly Way junction to Penn Bottom. Objectors say the development would fill the last remaining gap between Hazlemere and Holmer Green.
  • Terriers Farm, Terriers – A mile or so further down the Amersham Road towards Wycombe revised plans by Persimmon Homes and Redrow Homes to build 370 dwellings at Terriers Farm are due to be considered by Buckinghamshire Council next month.
  • Slate Meadow, Wooburn – Preliminary building work on an estate of 146 houses at Slate Meadow, a couple of miles or so from Penn and Tylers Green,  began this summer.  The meadow is the last open land between Wooburn and Bourne End.
  • In Beaconsfield, the Beaconsfield Society is objecting to a plan to build 120 houses on Green Belt land near the Miller & Carter roundabout on the A40 at Holtspur. The society is also objecting to a plan to build 95 assisted living units and a 75 bed care home at Wilton Park, also in Green Belt. The society says the  developer of the Wilton Park estate had promised the land would be left open and used for community football pitches.  

Skating on thin ice

Our nearest Christmas ice rink will be back this year…but only just. Picture: Aylesbury and District News

THE VAST  Chiltern View Garden Centre near Wendover is very popular. But it has a dilemma. It can fill its enormous glasshouses with plants, shrubs and trees in spring, summer and early autumn no problem. In the winter, when there aren’t many plants to sell and the glasshouses are distinctly chilly, there’s not much business to be had.

Then a couple of years ago the business came up with a bright idea. It applied for and received temporary permission to build an outside ice rink and it proved a great attraction. 

Last year it cleared out one of its vast glasshouses and moved the ice rink inside together with Christmas attractions. It proved even more popular, attracting thousands of people from around south Buckinghamshire.  

The problem was it didn’t have planning permission.

And that wasn’t the only run-in with the council planners.  It’s all a bit complex, but, in essence, the business erected enormous glass walled extensions to its existing garden centre. The business owners thought they were entitled to build them. The planners said they weren’t.  

Buckinghamshire Council agreed with its planners and issued an enforcement notice ordering the business to take down the extensions.

In addition, it issued another enforcement notice forbidding the centre from erecting any ice rinks anywhere on the site in future. The business responded by appealing against the enforcement notices and a government planning inspector will decide who’s right at a hearing early next year.

Massive support

Undaunted by all that the business applied for temporary planning permission to erect its ice rink in late November and December this year. Unsurprisingly the planners recommended that councillors  refuse this year’s application.  

But they were in for a shock.  More than one thousand members of the public  wrote to the council supporting the plan for the ice rink. There wasn’t a single letter or email of objection.

Even some  local councillors and the local parish council added their support. They say the site is big enough to handle the demand for car parking (the planners disagree); that it’s a safe and popular attraction, especially for children, and, after all, it’s only for Christmas. 

Faced with such an enormous public approval  – and a sizeable live audience hanging on their every word – the councillors on the planning committee had a knee wobble. 

Last month they met and indicated by nine votes to two that they DID want this year’s ice rink to go ahead, but deferred a final decision so its planning officers and the business can sort out what should be easily agreed conditions (that will be a fun meeting). 

The business didn’t gloat: a spokesperson simply thanked the public for its overwhelming support and added: “Christmas isn’t cancelled.”

Regional news

Bridge closes – Cookham Bridge over the Thames will be closed to motor vehicles from 16 October to enable essential repairs to be undertaken to its 150 year old iron structure. It is expected to be closed for five or six months although pedestrians and dismounted cyclists will be allowed across. The bridge links Cookham with Bourne End and there will be long diversions.

Unique pupilRaphael Darley, 18,  of Seer Green, became the first pupil from The Beaconsfield School, which isn’t a grammar school, to be accepted by Oxford University after he gained top marks in his five A levels.

Service station – Plans have been outlined for a new motorway service station on the eastern side of the M25 between junctions 16 and 17 to be called Chiltern Chalfont Services.

Pub pulls out The former cinema cum Prezzo restaurant in Beaconsfield High Street is on the market again after Wetherspoons dropped its plan to convert it into a pub/restaurant.

Swans reducing – The annual count of swans on the Thames between Sunbury and Abingdon – swan-upping – saw a 40 per cent drop in the number of cygnets this year, mainly due to bird flu. The King’s swan-uppers counted and marked 94 cygnets this summer compared to 155 last year.

Grinding onThe two machines tunnelling under the Chilterns for HS2 have reached the eight mile point  in their ten mile journey. They are 35 metres beneath Little Missenden en route to the northern end of the tunnel entrance near Great Missenden. They set off from the southern entrance, near Denham, in May 2021 and are due to emerge next March.

Picture: Ed Kingsford Photography

Truly scrumptious – The Cobstone Windmill in Ibstone – famous for its central role in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – is up for sale with its associated luxury farmhouse for around £9 million. The grade 2 listed windmill, originally built in 1816, was restored by the film-makers in 1967.

When Parky lost control…

I FOUND myself standing next to Michael Parkinson, who died last month, in the gents loo of a Windsor hotel on the day Yorkshire Cricket Club controversially sacked its captain Brian Close.

So, as one Yorkshireman to another, I asked him what he felt about the day’s events. He was so animated in his response that he half-turned in full flow…and soaked my left shoe!

Entirely my fault of course: Yorkshiremen like to look you in the eye when discussing important matters. So never talk to them about cricket while they’re having a wee. 

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