People & Events

Grand Bazaar at Penn House to raise funds for a church at Holmer Green

Princess Christian

A report in the Bucks Herald dated May 31st, 1890, gives details of fund-raising for the erection of a church in Holmer Green.  The important person who opened the Bazaar, Princess Christian of Schleswig Holstein, was, before her marriage, Princess Helena, the third daughter of Queen Victoria. The following extracts give a flavour of the florid reporting of the time.

“Honoured by the presence of Royalty, the grand Bazaar which was opened on Thursday afternoon at Penn House, Amersham, in aid of the fund for building a church at Holmer Green, was a great success.  The beautiful grounds at Penn were never seen to greater advantage than beneath the bright beams of the summer sun which favoured the gathering by its presence, and we are sure that the genial weather had a great deal to do with the great interest and enjoyment which those present appeared to feel in the proceedings. . . . The object for which the Bazaar was held was a laudable one.  The want of a church in Holmer Green has long been seriously felt, and with the concurrence of the Vicar of Penn Street (the Rev. J. J. Lindeman) in whose parish Holmer Green is situated, the Countess Howe with her usual generosity and kind-heartedness, decided to hold a bazaar at Penn House, with the object of raising funds for the erection of a Church at Holmer Green.   We learn that promises of £550 in money has already been given, and Earl Howe has already given a site.  It is estimated that a suitable building would cost £800, but it is desired, if possible, to form, in addition, some kind of endowment fund which would support a clergyman to minister to the spiritual needs of the inhabitants of the  hamlet.”

The Bazaar was held in an enclosed portion of the park on the right of Penn House, where several tents had been erected.  A large one was devoted to stalls with a great variety of items for sale, a second one housed tea and light refreshments and in the third one a variety of entertainments went on during the afternoon.  All the tents had boarded floors and there was a boarded path from the house into the bazaar tent, covered in red baize.  The approach to the ‘Bazaar’ tent was lined with palms in pots.

Shortly before two o’clock Her Royal Highness Princess Christian of Schleswig Holstein accompanied by her husband, daughter, the Earl and Countess Howe and other house guests, left the house and went to the ‘Bazaar’ tent while the band of the Grenadier Guards played the National Anthem.  Rev Lindeman spoke briefly of the necessity to have a church in Holmer Green, which had a population of 480 and was two miles from Penn Street.  After this the Princess declared the bazaar open.

The many stalls were in the charge of Countess Howe, assisted by the Princess, and other titled and well-connected ladies (details in Bucks Herald link below) except for the Parish one which was in the hands of Miss Brine.  Our reporter goes on to give a description of the items for sale:

“The articles upon offer were of the most extensive and beautiful description, each stall being loaded with a wealth of fancy articles, handsomely embroidered cushions, wicker tables, beautifully hand-painted screens, brackets, sticks, umbrellas, dolls (some most beautifully dressed), portraits of Lord Curzon, and views of Penn House, and needlework, terra-cotta ornaments and costly bric-a-brac of every description, which we have not space to particularise.  The stalls were elegantly draped in various coloured art and Indian muslins, and looked exceedingly pretty.”

During the afternoon, the Band of the Grenadier Guards played a selection of popular music.  The entertainments in the third tent included Professor Overton, a ventriloquist, and performances by Professor Johannes Wolff, “the celebrated violinist to the King of Holland”.

A contingent of County Police was also in attendance and the bazaar continued the next day.

Looking ahead, the church was opened in 1894.
Footnote:  In 2017 £550 and £800 were worth £71,140 and £103,476 respectively.

Hilary Hide, Holmer Green Today

Holmer Green Church ealry 20C

The original much longer article from the Bucks Herald, May 31st, 1890,
with details of attendees and musical entertainment, May 28th and 29th 1890.

Sir Cecil Clementi and family

Sir Cecil Clementi GCMG (1875-1947), whose family grave is located on the western edge of Holy Trinity churchyard, hard up against Penn Wood, was a distinguished colonial administrator and scholar who served as Governor of Hong Kong (1925-1930), and of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner of the Federated Malay States (1930-1934), the territories now known as Singapore and Malaysia. Clementi spent his entire career overseas. Born in Kanpur (Cawnpore) India, where his father served in the military, he attended St Paul’s School and Magdalen College Oxford before passing the Civil Service examination and choosing to serve as an Eastern Cadet in Hong Kong. He spent 13 years in the Colony, acquiring fluency in written Chinese and various spoken dialects, travelling extensively in China and rising to the position of Acting Colonial Secretary. During this period he published a translation with commentary of Cantonese Love Songs and was an early champion of Hong Kong University, founded in 1911. His next post was that of Colonial Secretary in British Guiana (1913-1922), followed by the same role in Ceylon (1922-25) before returning to Hong Kong as Governor during a time of crisis in relations between Britain and China. Clementi championed Chinese education in Hong Kong, where the Clementi Secondary School, founded in 1926, is named after him (Clementi Secondary School.). He also worked to outlaw the practice of domestic slavery of young Chinese women known as the mui-tsai  (妹仔) system.
His final post was Governor of the Straits Settlements and the Malay States at a time when they were among the most prosperous of Britain’s overseas territories thanks to the growth of the tin and rubber industries, both of them hard hit by the Great Depression.
For much of his career, Sir Cecil followed in the footsteps of his uncle, Sir Cecil Clementi-Smith (1840-1916), who also served in Hong Kong, Ceylon and, finally, as would his nephew, Governor of the Straits Settlements.

Sir Cecil Clementi and his wife Lady Penelope retired in 1934, and moved into Holmer Court in 1935,  (now demolished and the site of the housing development known as the ‘Clementi Estate’). He died there on 5 April 1947.

Their younger daughter, Cecily Joyce Clementi (1915-1940), predeceased her parents whilst working as a student nurse at Park Prewett Hospital (then a military hospital), Basingstoke. She is remembered at St Thomas’ Hospital Chapel, Lambeth on a memorial to nurses who ‘Died in the discharge of their Duties’.  Cecily Clementi died the day before her brother Cresswell was to be married.

She is buried at Penn Street, as is Lady Penelope (1889-1970). Memorial stones at the foot of the main headstone, which is adorned with a fine Celtic cross, commemorate one of the couple’s other daughters, Dr Dione Clementi (1914-2010), an historian, and Air Vice Marshal Cresswell Clementi (1918-1981) and his wife Susan (1918-2006).

By Graham Hutchings © (2020), who is writing a biography of Sir Cecil Clementi to be published by Hong Kong University Press.  Additional information and photograph re: Cecily Clementi, from Richard Maddox, Imperial war Museum.
Holmer Court image © Stuart King.

Sir Cecil and Lady Penelope Clementi very soon involved themselves in village life in Holmer Green.  Supporting Scouts, Brownies and the village schools among other things.

King Edward VII visit to Penn Street

On the evening of January 16th 1902, the day of the opening of Parliament, King Edward left London by train, for Penn House, Buckinghamshire, the seat of Earl Howe. On Friday the King had an excellent day’s sport. His Majesty was accompanied by Earl Howe, Earl de Grey, Viscount Curzon, Lord Herbert Vane-Tempest, the Hon. H. Stonor, Mr. A. Sassoon, and General Sir Stanley Clarke. Game was plentiful and his Majesty was very fortunate in choice of position, securing a number of fine birds. A record bag for the Penn preserves was the result of the day’s outing, 1,203 pheasants, twenty partridges, ten hares, and twenty rabbits being brought down.

Luncheon was served early in the afternoon in a tent close to Penn Farm, where most of the ladies of the house party joined the shooters. On Sunday his Majesty attended divine service at Penn Street Church with the members of the house party.

The visit was reported in great detail in the local newspaper, with details of the shooting party, the King’s visit to Penn Street church on the Sunday morning, a drive around High Wycombe in the King’s motor car on Sunday afternoon, and the King’s departure to Windsor on Tuesday morning.

Click here to open an image of the newspaper report,
(PDF file 3Mb opens in new window)

The visit was also reported in ‘The Sphere’ magazine of 20th January, 1902.

Click the link or image below to open the page from The Sphere as a PDF file, (opens a new browser tab). King Edward VII visit to Penn Street 1902

The description of the church and the view from the tower, “The church stands on very high ground, the top of the church tower being 600ft above sea level.  Windsor castle is easily seen from the tower”, reads as if the author may have mistakenly included a description of Holy Trinity, Penn, rather than Holy Trinity, Penn Street, which sits in a slight hollow in Penn woods.

Raphael’s Transfiguration

The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13) and other gospels.
The painting hangs at the West end of Penn Street church.


“Earl Howe, who is the patron of the living, has presented to Holy Trinity Church, Penn, one of the very few existing copies of Raphael’s celebrated picture of the “Transfiguration”, which was formerly the altar-piece in the Curzon Chapel, Mayfair.”

The Bedfordshire Advertiser, April 28 1905.

“Cardinal Giulio de’Medici (who later became Pope Clement VII), commissioned Raphael to paint Transfiguration for the city of Narbonne, in France. The painting was kept personally by the Pope after Raphael’s untimely death, until he donated it to the church of San Pietro in Rome. The painting is now housed in the Vatican Museum.”

The 1910 Election Campaign

From the South Bucks Standard, January 7th 1910.
Sir Alfred Cripps stood as Liberal candidate for the Wycombe constituency in the 1910 General Election.  The newspaper reported the many meetings he held across South Bucks, including ones at Penn Street and Tylers Green.

He was elected as MP for Wycombe at the 1910 General Election, but was raised to the peerage by the Liberal party in 1914, prompting a by-election.  He took the title Lord Parmoor, the name of the village where he lived, in his Wycombe constituency.

His youngest son Sir Stafford Cripps, became a Labour politician who served in the 1945 post-war Labour Government.

There is a family history written by his son on the Frieth and Parmoor website.