Our Church during the Middle Ages


No 16: Early priests at Penn

We noted in Part 1, that our earliest recorded priest was Hugh, Clerk of Penn. In 1183, he was one of several witnesses to an agreement which was sworn in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and which resolved a dispute between Missenden Abbey and the de Turville family about the rights of patronage to the church at Weston Turville.   Geoffrey de Turville, who was one of the other witnesses, was also described as the Clerk of Taplow and since the de Turvilles also held Penn, and Hugh moved in the same superior social circles, it is not unlikely that he was also a member of the same family.

The next recorded Clerk was WaIter de la Penne who first appears as a witness to another Missenden Abbey charter in 1194. He was Clerk of Penn from about 1200 to 1225 and was also a landowner in his own right holding 1/5 of a knight’s fee, a small estate of about 90 acres, which seems to have been in what we now call Tylers Green,  including a third share in a water mill (windmills had not yet been introduced) on the river in the Wycombe valley below. He also held the patronage of Oulton church in Norfolk which had been held by his forbears ‘a conquestu Angliae’, from the Conquest of England.

It is quite possible that both Walter de la Penne and Hugh were younger sons of a branch of the Turville family who had adopted the name of their estate at Penn. This is exactly what happened in the case of the Puttenhams who, as the record clearly shows, were originally Turvilles who changed their name to that of the manor at Puttenham near Halton. They later came to live in Penn in a Turville property known, in 1200, as ‘Withiheg’ (hence Witheridge Lane which led to it – see Part 5).  Withiheg subsequently came to be called Puttenham Place after its owner/occupiers and has just been beautifully restored.

The present Earl Howe, who still holds the patronage of Penn Church, is a descendant of the de la Pennes and is therefore likely to be related in some way to WaIter de la Penne and quite possibly to Hugh as well.

© Miles Green, October 1998

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