Holy Trinity, Penn, Burials and Memorials

John Middleton’s Burial Register: “When life was uncertain”

When life was uncertain

The Revd John Middleton became Vicar of Penn in 1787 and his registry entries run for 20 years from 1788 to 1807.  He kept meticulous records of all that he did, including adding the notes below to the burial register when there was an unusual cause of death:

1788  Edmund Hunt, “accidentally drowned in a tub of water”.
1788  Charlotte Dennis, “found dead by Mother supposed to have died in a fit”
1790  Ann Pusey, “falling into the fire in a Fit and being dreadfully burnt”
1793 “Buried two of three children at one birth” and four days later, “the remaining child of the three”.
1796  “Alice Darvill, “She died of a lock’d Jaw, in the Workhouse (Typically a symptom of a tetanus infection)
1797  “John Fawkes, “crushed to death by the accidental fall of Building”
1800  John Pattison, aged 17, “He died in consequence of the broken bones & bruises he  received from the falling in of a chalk pit”.
1801  James Harman, “terribly burnt”.
1802  Thomas Winter, labourer aged 25 ½, “He hurt his hand at Gravel cart for Lord Grenville and died after it was amputated”.
1803 Job Carter, aged 2yrs 8 months, “accidentally drown’d in a Clay Pit”.
1803 William Wade, “he died of the Venereal, that foul and loathsome disease”.
1804 Charlotte Wright, “Her death was occasioned by pricking her finger with a bone salting some meat”.
1805 Sarah Charlton, “who died in the Workhouse in Child-bed of twins, one of which, still-born”.
1806 Ferdinand D’Aguisy, “young Gentlemen at the French School, aged 16 years & 5 months, lately appointed to an ensigncy in the 60th Regt.”.
1807 Eliz. Chapman, aged 77, “She died in a fit in the Harvest field”.

These were the unusual entries, but they came at a time when life generally was very uncertain.  During those 20 years when John Middleton was the vicar of Penn, with a population of only 180 families, he recorded 66 infant deaths, mostly at birth or soon afterwards; a further 16 teenagers, or near teens, died of undisclosed causes; there were 9 deaths from smallpox, 9 from consumption (TB), and 3 from ‘dropsy ‘, and 2 from scarlet fever.

Wealth and position were no protection and during this same period Assheton Curzon, the lord of the manor and owner of most of Penn, lost his eldest son and two grandsons.   Another victim, this time of scarlet fever, was the grandson of General Haviland, who had lived in the mansion overlooking the front common.

Surprisingly enough, if you survived these risks there was a chance of living to a respectable old age.  In those twenty years: 42 lived to their 70s, a further 27 to their 80s, and a lucky 7 to their 90s. The winner was a 96-year-old widow, Mary Stratford.

Miles Green, 19 Feb 2023

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Rosa Morison & Eleanor Grove

God’s Finger Touched Her, and she slept”

Ros Morison (Standing) and Eleanor Grove

The above words are a line from an elegy by Alfred Lord Tennyson and are an extremely evocative description of the final hours of Rosa Morison who died at her desk in University College London in February 1912.  They can be seen on the brass plaque on the South Aisle wall in Holy Trinity placed to commemorate Rosa. Who was responsible for its installation? Well we can only speculate but Drs. Louisa Garrett Anderson, Flora Murray and Agnes Savill are all obvious candidates. Rosa was born in Hammersmith in 1841, in fact only two days before the census of that year was taken, upon which she appears as an unknown child just two days old, she was not to remain unknown in the decades to come.

In 1866 she was employed as a linguist at Queens College, and it was there that she met Eleanor Grove. After a brief holiday in Germany Rosa approached the University of London where she offered her services free of charge, she was appointed Vice- Principal, and in 1883 she obtained the post of Lady Superintendent of Women Students, a position she held until her death.

The student accommodation continued to be developed under Rosa’s tenure to the point where it held not only University College students but those attending the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson London School for Medicine for Women.

The neighbouring brass plaque commemorates her friend and companion Eleanor Grove. It was placed there in 1907 so probably at the behest of Rosa herself. Eleanor was a member of the Grove family her brother being Thomas Grove who resided at Watercroft, and another was Sir George Grove well known as the author of Dictionary of Music & Musicians.  Eleanor was born in Clapham in 1826 and began her working life as a Governess in Germany and Austria, Her professional life in many ways parallels that of Rosa and both are best remembered for identifying and developing student accommodation principally for women students in Bloomsbury. Eleanor did not enjoy good health and was forced to retire in 1890, She died at her home in Tavistock Square in 1905 from heart failure.

To-day their names are remembered following the construction in 2018 of the 33-floor student block named Eleanor Rosa House in Stratford East London

What of the Penn connection.  Well, between 1885 and 1912 Eleanor and Rosa, in addition to their London address, resided at Swiss Cottage (now Alde House) in Church Road, Penn. Regrettably little is known of their lives in Penn and following Rosa’s death in 1912, Swiss Cottage together with its contents which included Rosa’s Broadwood piano and many of her books were auctioned off.

Were they buried together locally? Again regrettably no. Eleanor lies in the family vault together with her mother and sisters at West Norwood and Rosa in Hammersmith cemetery close to where she was born.

In addition to their pioneering work in forwarding the cause of women’s education both women had significant suffrage credentials as Rosa’s obituary in The Common Cause, the suffragette newspaper was written by no less than Millicent Fawcett herself.

I am grateful to Hannah Leamy for alerting me to these two notable ladies Hannah is the grand daughter of Edith Bristow who was in the household of Rosa & Eleanor.

© Ron Saunders, Penn Parish Magazine, December 2021.
Photograph Rosa Morison & Eleanor Grove, Wikipedia.
Photographs of Plaques, © Eddie Morton ARPS.
Rosa Morison portrait, © UCL Records, UCL Library Services

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Dr. Flora Murray 1869-1923 and Dr. Louisa Garrett Anderson 1873‑1943

Holy Trinity, Penn, Old Churchyard, Plot F.19

Dr. Louisa Garrett-Anderson and Dr. Flora Murray

Ten years ago, I was contacted by Dr Jennian Geddes who was researching the Women’s Hospital Corps (WHC), a group of female doctors and nurses which had been set up in 1914 to treat military casualties.   A flat granite memorial stone in the SW corner of Penn churchyard records the names of the two very remarkable women doctors: Flora Murray (8th May 1869 – 28th July 1923) and Louisa Garrett-Anderson (25th June 1873 – 15th November 1943), who in their 40s had founded the WHC and who lived at Paul End (now Gatemoor Grange) off Pauls Hill, close to the church.

Before WW1, it was still rare for a woman doctor to see male patients and women were excluded from training for general medicine and surgery.  Both women had been very active in the suffragette movement. Louisa Garrett Anderson, whose mother, Elizabeth, was the first ever British woman doctor, as well as becoming established in her profession, was politically active, taking a keen interest in suffrage activities.  She was a member of: the London Society for Women’s Suffrage; the London Graduates’ Union for Women’s Suffrage (where she chaired the inaugural meeting); the Women’s Social and Political Union; the United Suffragists (Vice-President); and the National Political League.  On 4 March 1912 she smashed a window in Rutland Gate in protest at a speech made by an anti-suffragist Cabinet minister. She was arrested and sent to Holloway Prison for 6 weeks with hard labour.  Flora Murray had nursed many of the suffragettes after forcible feeding in prison.

Florence Nightingale’s Death Certificate

It is intriguing to note a connection between the suffragettes and Florence Nightingale, since it was Louisa Garrett Anderson who, in 1910, signed Florence Nightingale’s death certificate when she died at her home in London, aged 90.

Louisa G-A was already in Penn by 1911 when she is recorded as living in Stone Lodge, probably now Stone Cottage, the first cottage at the top of Pauls Hill.   By 1912, she had bought the land for Paul End which was built in 1913.   This was the very year in which unknown suffragettes tried to set light to Penn Church, which must surely have been a considerable embarrassment to Louisa!

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh, forcibly exiled in England from his kingdom of Punjab, provides another unexpected local connection with a leading suffragette as both she and Louisa were members of a suffragette deputation to the Prime Minister in 1910.  Sophia and her sister Catherine came to live in Hammersley Lane during WW2 – possibly as a result of having known Louisa?

Another notable local suffragette was Mary Gawthorpe, who was living in Penn (address not known, but perhaps with Louisa G-A?) in October-December 1912, when she called for a National Hunger Strike from the Penn address and was later interviewed by the Daily Mail on ‘Penn Common’.

When the First World War broke out, Flora Murray and Louisa Garret Anderson founded the Women’s Hospital Corps (WHC), and recruited women to staff it.  Believing that the British War Office would reject their offer of help, and knowing that the French were in need of medical assistance, they offered their assistance to the French Red Cross. The French accepted their offer and provided them the space of a newly built Claridges Hotel in Paris as their hospital.  They ran a very successful hospital staffed and run entirely by women.  Before returning to London in 1915 they opened another hospital at The Chateau Mauricien near Boulogne.

Dr Flora Murray & Dr Louisa Garrett-Anderson, Endell St, 1916

Then, in January 1915, they were offered the chance to run a hospital in London where most of the casualties were then going to.  They were given large old workhouse premises in Endell Street in Covent Garden. This they transformed into a 573-bed military hospital which opened in May 1915.

Flora Murray was the Doctor-in-charge and was the first woman to be recognized as a Lt Colonel equivalent by the British Army.  She was an anesthetist and Louisa Garrett Anderson, a Major equivalent, was the Chief Surgeon.  The hospital had a staff of 180 women who referred to them both as ‘the C.O.s’.   They operated together.
The illustration shows Louisa Garrett Anderson, the surgeon in the middle of the group, with Flora Murray as the anaesthetist.  The large oil by Francis Dodd was commissioned in 1920 by the Imperial War Museum to record the work of the hospital. It was not unusual for 20 to 30 men to go to theatre in a day.   Weekly lectures were given to the young staff about women’s rights and their duties as citizens and flags were flown in 1918 when a law was passed giving suffrage to women over 30 and women over 21 who were householders.  Younger women had to wait until 1928.  Both women were awarded the CBE for their war work,

Endell Street hospital was amazingly successful and one of the reasons for this was their attention to the psychological needs of the soldiers.  Great emphasis was placed on creating a calming and home-like environment with fresh flowers in every room, brightly coloured blankets, standard lamps for reading, and ‘our gentle merry young orderly girls who feed them with cigarettes, write to their mothers and read to them.’  When it was finally closed, in December 1919, they had treated 26,000 patients in the four and a half years of its existence, almost all of them male.

Paul End was owned jointly by Louisa and Flora and was much used and appreciated as a retreat for the hospital staff to get away from the horrors of military surgery and wartime London.   After the war, from 1921, they lived there full-time.  Flora died in 1923 after a series of operations in the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in London and was buried in the churchyard at Penn.  Louisa stayed on in Penn and played an active part in local affairs.  She, became a magistrate and was the second woman to be elected to Penn Parish Council on which she served from 1932 to 1940, taking a particular interest in the War memorial.  She is recorded as opening a church bazaar in Penn Street.

On the outbreak of WW2, Louisa let the house and went to work as a member of the surgical staff in the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital in London.  She became seriously ill in 1943 and was at first treated in the hospital named  after her mother, before being taken to a nursing home in Brighton, where she died on 15 Nov 1943.  She was cremated at Brighton and her ashes scattered on the South Downs, but her family arranged for an inscription commemorating her friendship and work with Flora Murray to be placed on the latter’s tombstone in the churchyard at Holy Trinity, Penn.

Their shared memorial stone is headed, ‘To the dear love of comrades’, presumably referring to their suffragette days.  It records their roles at the Endell Street Hospital acknowledging that ‘God gave her strength to lead, to pity and to heal’, and concludes movingly and triumphantly, in capitals, ‘WE HAVE BEEN GLORIOUSLY HAPPY’.

Her will includes a generous £500 to Penn Church (about £20,000 today according to the National Archive calculator), to be invested for the repair and maintenance of Penn Church.

[The initial article (see VV No. 137, Apr 2010)  was mostly based initially on an article by Dr Jennian Geddes, ‘The Woman’s Hospital Corps’ in The Camden History Review, Vol 32 (2008), pp.13-18,  since supplemented with useful researches by Ron Saunders and Peter Strutt.

Miles Green, 1 June 2020

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David Blakely 1929-1955

David Moffat Drummond Blakely,
17th June 1929 – Easter Sunday, 10th April 1955,
Holy Trinity, Penn, New Churchyard, Plot 48.

David Blakely received unwanted notoriety when he was murdered by Ruth Ellis, and from the newspaper coverage that followed. David was born in Ecclesall, Sheffield, his father was a Scottish born doctor and his mother was Irish and came from Ballynahinch. His parents later divorced, and David’s mother Anne remarried Humphrey Wyndham Cook in 1941.

Highland Light Infantry

Anne Cook with David

David was educated at Shrewsbury, and after his National Service in the Highland Light Infantry, whose insignia appears on his tombstone, he looked at a career in hotel management, but left that and concentrated on his real interest which was racing cars.  Initally in his beloved HRG racing car, HLO 168,  replaced by the ‘Emperor’ in 1954, in which he took 2nd place at Brands Hatch on Boxing Day, 1954. Both cars were serviced and race prepared by Len Gibbs at Slade’s Garage, in Penn. David was an up and coming motor racing driver, encouraged and financed by his step-father Humphrey Wyndham Cook, who was a motor racing driver in the 1930’s. From 1933 to 1939, Humphrey Cook financed the development of the ERA (English Racing Autombile) with Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon, with the objective of devloping a world beating racing car and in 1934 Humphrey Cook won a handicap race at Brooklands with an 1,100cc ERA.

David’s racing results 1951 to 1953 show 1st, 3rd, 4th and 6th place results at National race meetings at Silverstone and Goodwood driving the HRG lightweight HLO 168.

David Blakely with HLO 168 and Silverstone trophies.

Then follows 1953 – 1954 driving the Leonard/MG with some 3rd and 5th placings. From October 1954, David was driving the ‘Emperor’ a HRG Twincam, and 26th December 1954 he achieved 2nd place at Brands Hatch. He was booked to race at the Goodwood Easter meeting 12th April 1955, two days after his tragic death. He had also been hired by Bristol Motor to drive one of the two factory Bristol 450 sportscars, (based on the ERA G-type Formula Two car of 1952), entered in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, scheduled to be contested in June of that same year.   A promising motor racing career cut short on Easter day 1955.

‘Emperor’ HRG Twin-cam (with HLO 168 number plate).

David Blakely lived with his mother Anne and her husband, Humphrey Wyndham Cook, (who she married in 1941), at ‘The Old Park’, Hammersley Lane, Tylers Green, which had been the WW2 retreat of Walter Delamare and his wife Elfrida.  Humphrey, Anne and David later moved to The Orchard on Beacon Hill.  The original ‘Old Park’ house was pulled down in 2008 and replaced by a very contemporary house.

The Old Park, Hammersley Lane.

Humphrey Cook made a generous donation to the New Churchyard appeal in memory of his wife Anne, and her two sons, John and David, though only Anne is remembered on the 1978 completion plaque inside the New Churchyard wall.  Humphrey and Anne Cook are buried together in the New Churchyard, Plot 30.  David’s elder brother John Brien Blakely (1920-1963)  was a Royal Naval pilot in WW2, flying Torpedo bombers (probably Fairey Swordfish).  He was a prisoner of war for several years and died from encephalitis aged only 43, he lies next to David in plot 49.

Their eldest brother Derek, was a WW2 RAF pilot, awarded the DFC, and joined BOAC after the war, rising to Senior Captain.  Their sister Maureen, was a Wren, working at Bletchley Park during WW2 and married a US Naval Lt. Commander John Fahey in July of 1945 and emigrated to America.  The ashes of the children’s nannie, Beatrice Holman, who originally joined the family in Sheffield, are next to David, John, Anne and Humphrey, in Ashes plot 151.

Many thanks to David’s American nephew Derek, who provided family history and photographs ©.

See Also: Racing Drivers of Penn: David Blakely

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Alison Uttley 1884-1976

Holy Trinity, Penn, New Churchyard, plot 69

Alison Uttley (17 December 1884 – 7 May 1976), née Alice Jane Taylor, wrote over 100 books, though best known for a children’s series about Little Grey Rabbit and Sam Pig. She is also remembered for a pioneering time slip novel for children, A Traveller in Time, about a plot to free Mary, Queen of Scots from Wingfield Manor, a setting close to where she was born in Cromford Derbyshire.

She grew up in rural Derbyshire, and was educated at the Lena School in Holloway and the Lady Manners School in Bakewell, where she developed a love for science which led to a scholarship to Manchester University to read physics. In 1906 she became the second woman honours graduate of the university and she made a lifetime friendship with the charismatic Professor Samuel Alexander.

After leaving university, she trained as a teacher at Hughes Hall, Cambridge and in 1908 took up a post as a physics teacher at Fulham Secondary School for Girls in West London.  In 1911 she married James Arthur Uttley, and in 1914 they had her only child, John Corin Taylor. James Uttley was prone to depression and drowned himself in the River Mersey in 1930.  From 1924 to 1938 the Uttleys lived at Downs House, Bowdon, Cheshire,  In 1938 she moved to Ellwood Road in Beaconsfield, to a house she renamed ‘Thackers’ after the house in her book ‘A Traveller in Time’.

Writing career

Alison Uttley, ‘A spinner of Tales’

In later life Uttley said that she began writing to support herself and her son financially after she was widowed, but in fact her first book was published in 1929, before her husband’s death. Uttley recorded that one inspiration was a meeting in 1927 with Professor Alexander at a painting exhibition in Altrincham, at which he confused her with another ex-student and asked if she was still writing. Her first books were a series of tales about animals, including Little Grey Rabbit, the Little Red Fox, Sam Pig and Hare. She later wrote for older children and adults, particularly focusing on rural topics, notably in The Country Child (1931), a fictionalized account of her childhood experiences at her family farm home, Castle Top Farm, near Cromford.

In her book Buckinghamshire, (1950), a collection of reminicensces and recollections, rather than a guide-book, she recalls walking up the lane from Knotty Green towards Penn church, with a young school-girl, Joy Allen, who walked from Brindle Lane in Knotty Green, to Penn School.  Together observing the flowers, birds and the beauty around them (pages 8-11 reproduced below).  Joy Allen became Joy Feast when she married, and contributed to the articles on Penn Church school on this website.

In 1970 the University of Manchester awarded Alison Uttley an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of her literary work.

In 2009 her private diaries were published, and she has been the subject of two biographies

(Adapted from Wikipedia)

Extract from BUCKINGHAMSHIRE published 1950.

“Sometimes I walk to Penn by the narrow lane among the cherry trees, instead of branching off at Forty Green to the wood­land path. Except for the hamlet cottages, the lane seems empty, but there are many invisible denizens, as I found out one day when I walked with a village schoolgirl. The lane is said to be the old pack road from Penn to High Wycombe. It was the road taken by the children who went to Penn school. No motor-bus carried them; they had the inestimable boon of walking and observing and getting to know a country lane in all the seasons of the year, and the memory of it will stay with them for life. Now, unfortunately, the school is closed, like many village schools. (Penn School closed 1949).

I walked with little Joy Allen along the narrow lane with its deep high banks on the sides, and red apples hanging tempt­ingly over the well-plashed fence. It is a celandine, wild violet, cherry blossom lane in spring, a wild rose and wild strawberry lane in summer, a lane for traveller’s-joy and bryony, for dog­wood and spindleberries, for blackberries and hazel nuts in autumn, and in winter, when snow is deep, rich red and amber ivy on the sandy banks.

From these banks we could see bright eyes watching us from behind the leaves, peering from screens of feathery grasses or from under the ivy, or behind yellow deadnettle and shining stitchwort. Shirt-buttons the country children call the white flowers of the greater stitchwort, and each little flower head resembles a highly ornamented pearl button on a fine linen shirt. So we found nests of robins, of thrushes, of tits, and the child told me of the secret life she shares with these birds, looking out for them each morning and evening, enjoying their friendship. She is an observer of rare quality, and has the quiet, listening attitude, the retentive memory and experimental zest that make up a naturalist.

The village of Penn runs along the crest of the hill, 540 feet up, and there is a climb till the old village is reached. On the side of the road opposite the ancient church are two tiny cottages which give me more pleasure than many a famous house in a great park. Their enchanting names are Robin and Wren. These two little rosy-bricked timbered cottages are comfortable and happy places. They have great fireplaces, now bricked up, where little modern grates are fitted, and the outside chimneys remain, ivy-covered and strong, against the walls.

I first noticed these cottages when the Madonna lilies were in bloom, for a snow-white company stood close to the walls, growing in abundance under the kitchen windows.

Opposite the cottages is a field gate, where every climber “lops and stands and stares, for there is a magnificent view across the country, and Windsor Castle can be seen on fine days. Perhaps every village has its own gate where there is a special view, I have come across many in Bucks, and there is usually a countryman leaning there, admiring, dreaming, ready to point out the features which seem invisible at first.

The house on the hill-top, The Knoll, was the home for a time of Princess Anne, who was sent there while Mary reigned with William of Orange. A delicate little belvedere is called Princess Anne’s window. From it the Princess must have seen Windsor and the vast panorama below. This is now the home of Viscount Curzon of Penn.

The early fourteenth-century church stands in a commanding position, From the summit of its tower one can see fifteen counties, I am told, but I prefer to think of that view of the sky the watchers had recently. The Observer Corps have gazed out during the war years, scanning the starry sky for enemy planes, watching day and night against invaders. The church tower of Penn is a great look-out place, like a lighthouse in the green sea of Buckinghamshire.

There are fine yews in the churchyard, and some wooden grave heads on which I always see robins perched. They seem to prefer the warmth of the wood to the cold tombstones.

The church at Penn is beautiful in its simplicity, with its whitewashed walls, its painted hatchments, its stone porch. The pews have doors with latches, so that one feels secure, kneeling there.

I remember the first sermon I heard at Penn, It was a lovely spring day, the sky azure as a harebell, the air sweet as honey, scented with flowers, Butterflies and bees were about, a yellow brimstone fluttered by the church door, and arabis and daffodils bloomed in Wren and Robin cottages, and in the churchyard.

“As I came across to church this morning, I looked up at the sky and thought to myself, ‘This is a day to thank God for,'” began the aged clergyman, and his sermon was a simple talk about eternal country things.

Again, I think of Christmas in this old church, and the wreaths of holly berries and fir, and the beautiful crib with its roof of straw at the west end under the tower, and the Holy Child in the manger, with ox and ass, and little village children staring amazed at the miracle. It seems an integral part of the country church with its whitewashed walls.

At Easter the church is decorated by the children with flowers they have picked. There is a bed of white violets in the deep moss-lined window of the porch, and wild cherry blossom from the woods hangs in tumultuous foam by the altar. Daffodils fill the leaden font, one of the few lead fonts in the country.

– The roof is fifteenth-century and has six traceried queen-post trusses which stand on stone corbels, with shields and heads of bearded men and angels. The tower has a ring of five bells with some interesting inscriptions.

“The treble, dated 1702, is inscribed:
I as trebell do beegin, and the second says:
Feare God, honour the king.
The fourth has
In Penn tour for too sing,
nd the tenor says:
Unto the church I doo you call
Deth to the grave will summans all.”

Over the woods and down the valleys chime these bells, the sound carried by the wind, sweeping from the high tower on the hill.

“The Doom,” the famous wall painting, was discovered in I 938. Some oak boards covered with plaster were moved from the wall above the chancel arch, and colour was noticed upon them. A medieval picture of the Last Judgment was found there, painted in bright colours. The original work was done in the fifteenth century, and it was repainted in the same rich colours, during the same century, with different scenes. There is Our Lord on a rainbow, with red-winged angels around him, blowing trumpets and carrying symbols of the Passion. Twelve apostles below, with the Virgin Mary, are standing on a green hill, with souls rising from their graves. It is a picture which was made for the enjoyment and instruction of those people of medieval days who had a lively and imaginative church to satisfy their needs. Now it hangs on the south wall, with a curtain to preserve it from the light.

There is a stone coffin in Penn Church, called the Saracen’s tomb, a thirteenth-century coffin with a raised cross on the lid.

The church living was granted by Edward VI to Sybil Hampden, who had been his governess, on her marriage to David Penn, the barber-surgeon to Henry VIII.

Sometimes one arrives hot and weary with climbing the long hill to Penn. In the window of the porch there is always a jug of clean water and a couple of glasses “for thirsty wayfarers,” and we drink and are thankful.” (Buckinghamshire: Pages 8-10)

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Donald Duart Maclean 1913-1983

Holy Trinity, Penn, Old Churchyard, Plot F.16.

Donald Duart Maclean (25 May 1913 – 6 March 1983) was a British diplomat and member of the Cambridge Five spy ring, along with Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross, which conveyed government secrets to the Soviet Union.

He was the third son of Sir Donald Charles Hugh Maclean and Lady Gwendolen Maclean, who owned Elm Cottage in Beacon Hill as a weekend retreat from their London apartment.  Sir Donald was a Liberal politician, who served as leader of the Opposition between 1918 and 1920 and in Ramsay MacDonald’s National Government as President of the Board of Education from 1931 until his death in June 1932

As an undergraduate, the young Donald Duart Maclean openly proclaimed his left-wing views, and was recruited into the Soviet intelligence service, then known as the NKVD. However, he gained entry to the Civil Service by claiming to have foresworn Marxism. In 1938, he was made Third Secretary at the Paris embassy, where he kept the Soviets informed about Anglo-German diplomacy. He then served in Washington, D.C. from 1944 to 1948, achieving promotion to First Secretary. Here he became Moscow’s main source of information about US thermonuclear policy, greatly helping the Soviets to evaluate the relative strength of their own nuclear arsenal.

By the time he was appointed head of the American Department in the Foreign Office, he was widely suspected of being a spy. The Soviets ordered Maclean to defect in 1951. In much later declassified reports, British Intelligence denied to the heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) any knowledge of his activities or whereabouts. In Moscow, he worked as a specialist on British policy and relations between the Soviet Union and NATO. He was reported to have died there on 6 March 1983.  His ashes were brought back to England by his son Fergus, and buried by his parents’ grave. The burial by the Revd. Oscar Muspratt was conducted in comparative secrecy, to avoid publicity, with a few family members present.  Donald’s older brother Alan was delayed leaving London and by the time he arrived at Penn, it was getting dark, and the service was conducted by torchlight.

Donald and his his eldest brother, Ian are remembered on the base of the family memorial in Penn churchyard.  Ian Maclean died September 14th/15th 1943, aged 34, when the aircraft in which he was Navigator crashed over Denmark, he is buried at Esbjerg, and is commemorated on the Penn WW2 War Memorial.

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