The corbel holding up the roof on the south side of the nave, just above the pulpit, was painted with the Segrave arms during the 1952 restoration. This was an informed guess because insufficient carving and colour survived to identify the original design.
However it was a good guess because the Segraves were very important in Penn during the Middle Ages. Stephen de Segrave was Constable of Dover and Warden of the Cinque Ports at a time when the south coast was being continually harassed by French raiders. He was also Chief Justice of the Kings Bench in 1232 and Sheriff of both Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire from 1228 – 34.
Stephen’s second wife was related to the Turvilles and it seems to have been through her that he first held land in Penn. He soon acquired more when in 1222, Nicholas de la Penne was found guilty of murdering a neighbouring landowner over a dispute about pasturing a horse. Nicholas was hanged and his property in Penn, 1/4 knights fee, amounting to about a fifth of the parish, was confiscated by the King and given to Stephen de Segrave.
The new Segrave Manor took in Knotty Green and Forty Greeen including Bayline Farm and a 150 acre deer park with a hunting lodge at its centre which we now call Seagraves Farm. The Seagrave family never lived in Penn and their bailiff lived in the manor house/farm on Church Road next to Watercroft which is still known as the Manor House.
The Penn family bought back Segraves Manor, in 1607, but separate manorial records were kept for two centuries thereafter.
Stephen de Segrave’s son, Gilbert, married Amabilia de Chaucumb whose family had founded Chacombe Priory in Northamptonshire, And it was to be Chacombe Priory which was to hold the rectory of Penn and appoint its priests for nearly three centuries until the Reformation.
It is good to note that a new housing development in Knotty Green has recently been called Chacombe Place.
© Miles Green, October 1999.