Monuments and Memorials

No 1. General William Haviland (1718-84)

There is a fine wall monument, near the vestry door, to General William Haviland, an Irishman who lived in Penn for the last few years of his life. He was a close friend and relation by marriage of Edmund Burke, the most famous parliamentarian of his day, who had an estate at Gregories in Beaconsfield and also owned some land in Penn. General Haviland’s son Thomas, also an army officer, married Edmund Burke’s niece.

It was Burke who wrote the memorable epitaph on Haviland’s monument:
‘Here rest the remains of General William Haviland, late Colonel of the 45th Regt. of Infantry; an experienced and successful Commander without ostentation: a firm friend without profession: a good man without pretence. He died Sept.16th 1784, aged 67 years’.

The monument was sculpted and signed by James Hickey (1751-95), who like Burke and Haviland was also an Irishman and a particular protégé of Burke’s. His name is inscribed on the monument as I+Hickey, which is also noteworthy for very visible corrections to no less than three of the inscribed dates. Hickey’s early death at the age of only 44 cut short a promising artist who had been appointed sculptor to the Prince of Wales in 1786 and who shortly before he died had been given the important commission, which he never executed, for a monument in Westminster Abbey to David Garrick the famous actor / manager.

Twenty years ago, I was in touch with the Regimental Office of the Royal Irish Rangers in the castle at Enniskillen. They were the successors to the Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers, who in turn were once the 27th Iniskilling Foot. William Haviland was appointed ensign at the age of 21 just as England declared war with Spain in 1739 and fought with the Regiment in all the many battles of his day against the rival Spanish and French Empires. He was later an aide-de-camp in the defence of Stirling Castle against Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. He commanded the regiment from 1752-60 and went on to Canada to take a leading Dart in the capture of Montreal by General Wolfe in 1759, commanding a brigade of 3,400 men. This settled Canada’s future as part or the British Empire. In 1767, he was appointed Colonel of the 45th Foot. During the American War of Independence he held a command as a Lt General for a short time.

He was an inventive man with considerable mechanical genius and designed special pontoons to cross rapids and a sort of circular slide rule called the Haviland instrument which was used to work out the manpower required for various military tasks.

General Haviland lived in a large medieval mansion over-looking the Front Common at the lower end of Widmer Pond about 100 yards below the Red Lion. Edmund Burke later used the same house as the school for the sons of French émigré nobility (see Mansions & mud houses, pp. 34, 35). A contemporary recalled two huge fir trees close to the house, ‘the largest and most lofty firs in the kingdom … which may be distinctly seen from the terrace at Windsor, from Harrow-on-the-Hill, from St. Paul’s Church, and from the rising ground near Reading’.  General Haviland apparently called them his ‘two Grenadiers’.

Haviland Hatchment 1784

He had a reputation for courage, ability and open-handed generosity and was apparently known and highly esteemed by George III. There is much about him in the PRO Kew, including his journal and correspondence, which would make a good subject for a future thesis.

© Miles Green, December 2007

No 2: Viscount Curzon 1730-1820

There is a very fine marble monument to Viscount Curzon on the north wall of the chancel. He inherited Penn Manor in 1756 through his grandmother Sarah Penn while his elder brother inherited Kedleston in Derbyshire. He held the Penn estate, and so appointed the vicars of Penn, for 64 years. He was an MP for a family seat in Clitheroe in Lancashire and seems to have had a very successful career being created Baron Curzon of Penn in 1794 and Viscount in 1802. He married three times with all his wives predeceasing him. His hatchment is on the south wall of the south aisle. He was succeeded by his young grandson whose other grandfather was Admiral Earl Howe.
The monument is by Sir Francis Chantrey (1781-1841) who is deemed to have been the greatest English sculptor of his generation. One of his first commissions, in 1808, was to make four colossal busts for Greenwich Hospital of the four most famous admirals of the time, Duncan, Howe (Earl Howe’s forebear), Nelson and St Vincent.

The son of a carpenter near Sheffield, he was apprenticed to a wood carver and gilder but bought himself out to paint portraits until he could try his fortune in London. He was thus a man of little education and had no training as a sculptor. His manners were rough and his language strong but he had immense natural talent and by the 1820s he had a large and distinguished practice for statues, busts and church monuments. He had an astonishing ability to express in marble the softness of flesh, while at the same time retaining the sense of the bones beneath.

He was the only sculptor to have recorded (and each on several occasions) four successive reigning sovereigns, George III, George IV, William IV and the young Queen Victoria. His work can be seen everywhere, including in Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.  There is a fine mounted statue of George IV in Trafalgar Square.

The monument is in a design much favoured by Chantrey showing two weeping women in classical Greek costume looking down at a profile portrait of Viscount Curzon. Above the profile is a large decorative urn embossed with a shield bearing the Curzon coat of arms, differenced with a crescent to show a second son. Above the shield is a  viscount’s coronet surmounted by a popinjay and below the shield is motto below, ‘Let Curzon holde what Curzon helde’. There is a long inscription below the monument which describes his ancestry and his three marriages and their children. The accuracy of the profile can be tested against the portrait of Viscount Curzon in his peer’s robes, painted by Devis in 1818 and now in the ownership of Earl Howe.

See also No 43: Viscount Curzon 1730-1820

© Miles Green, February 2008
Photographs © courtesy Eddie Morton ARPS

No 3: Baroness Sophia Charlotte Howe (1761–1835)

13-baroness-howe-1835_600The previous article focussed on the large marble monument to Viscount Curzon (1730-1820) by Sir Francis Chantrey. This next monument to his daughter-in-law is also by Chantrey although much smaller. It was described by a contemporary as ‘chaste and elegant’.

Sophia Charlotte Howe was the eldest of three daughters of Admiral Earl Howe. He had no sons and she was allowed to inherit his earlier barony and so became Baroness Howe in her own right.   She married Viscount Curzon’s eldest son Penn Assheton Curzon in 1787 and there are two portraits of her in Penn House by J.W. Walker.

She had two sons and two daughters of whom three died early, aged 3 months, 16 and 29.   Only one son lived on into old age and he became Earl Howe. He was named Richard William Penn and she called him Penn.

A few years ago a small leather-covered notebook was given to me with Memorandums for my dear Penn scratched faintly on the cover. It had been kept by Baroness Howe between 1798 when her husband died, until 1813 when Penn, by then her only surviving son, left her guardianship.   She described it as ‘a kind of journal of every transaction of any moment in which I had been engaged’ on account of the properties of her two young sons.

There are several interesting references to properties in Penn, Penn Street and Holmer Green where she seems to have bought any significant properties which came on the market. Property was a good investment with inheritance tax at only 2½%. Those easily identifiable were:

French School – In 1801, £6,900 for the ‘large building now let to Government for a French School situated at Tylers’ Green in the Parish of Penn’ and she noted that ‘I bought it solely for the accommodation in future of my son.’

Beacon Hill – In 1807, £1,450 for ‘an Estate & Wood situated on the Beacon Hill at Penn’. This was a house and 27 acres where Thatchers Field now stands.   I have a map of the estate with field names.

Pauls Hill – In 1808, £635 for several cottages etc at Penn Church. These must be the cottages in Pauls Hill.

Tylers Green – In 1809, £350 for four cottages & a Blacksmith’s shop at Tylers’ Green. This could be at French Meadow on Elm Road.

The last full entry is a poignant one, ‘Mr Steele signed the Deed in Chancery taking from me the care of both my dear Penn’s Person & his Property.’

She married again in 1812 to Sir Jonathan Waller Bt. and the semi-circular stained glass window in the chancel comes from that marriage.

© Miles Green, April 2008
Photographs © courtesy Eddie Morton ARPS

No 4: 1st Countess Howe (1800–1836)

We have so far looked at two monuments by Sir Francis Chantrey (1781-1841), deemed to have been the greatest English sculptor of his generation – the large and finely detailed marbled carving to Viscount Curzon (1730-1820) on the north wall of the chancel and the ‘chaste & elegant’ one to his daughter in law Baroness Howe (1761-1835) on the opposite wall.

There is a third monument by Chantrey on the west wall of the chancel overlooking the choir stalls. It is to the 1st Countess Howe (1800-1836). She was the Lady Harriet Georgiana Brudenell, the second of eight daughters of the Earl of Cardigan and it was her only brother who led the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava in 1854. She was only 20 years old when she married the Hon. Richard Curzon on 19 March 1820, just two days before his grandfather, Viscount Curzon, died and he inherited the viscountcy. A year later he took the additional name of Howe by Royal Licence and at only 24 was created Earl Howe, the title first held by his maternal grandfather, Admiral Howe.

The two miniatures illustrated are both from Penn House. The first almost certainly dates from the year of her marriage. It was painted by Mrs Anne Mee, who had completed an important commission for George IV in 1814 to paint a series of miniature portraits of fashionable ladies. Her surname is incorrectly shown on the frame as Brudenell-Bruce.

The second miniature was painted c.1823, showing her with her eldest son George Augustus Frederick Louis, later 2nd Earl Howe. She had 10 children by the time she died aged only 36, after what her monument describes as ‘a long and distressing illness’. Her seven boys and three girls all survived into middle or old age with one surviving until 1914. Her eldest daughter married the Duke of Beaufort and her second the Earl of Westmorland.

Queen Adelaide thought she was a strange woman, always ‘saying and doing just what came into her head’, and this view is supported by an anecdote in the Queen’s biography (Queen Adelaide by Mary Hopkirk, Albermarle Press 1946) to which Earl Howe alerted me. She and her husband were traveling by carriage with the King and Queen (King William IV and QueenAdelaide to whom Earl Howe was Lord Chamberlain) on a particularly hot day. Without warning, Lady Howe “first rested her leg on her husband’s knee (to his great confusion) and then stuck it out of the window”.

Nevertheless, her husband seems to have been very fond of her because it was in memory of his young countess that Earl Howe built the first girls’ school in the parish in 1839. It was called a Girls’ Working School and clothed and educated about 36 girls paid for by him with contributions from Queen Adelaide and by several of the principal inhabitants of the parish.

The school-room was the first half of what is now the main church hall and there was a ‘comfortable residence for the Mistress’. The school was designed by Edward Blore (1787-1879), who later designed the front of Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria.

The Countess’s initials ‘HGH’ and coronet are displayed on the gable and her hatchment hangs in the nave of the church.

© Miles Green, June 2008
Photographs courtesy Eddie Morton, ARPS

Addendum: ‘Penn Church School’
Boys joined the girls not long after their school at Church Knoll was closed in 1875, and the building was extended in 1910, to a design by Harrison-Townsend.  The school closed in 1949 for lack of pupils. Miles Green, ‘Mansions and Mud Houses’, 2007, p12.

No 5: John Pen (1534-96) & his wife Ursula (died 1610)

The earliest members of the Pen(ne) family recorded in the church are John and his wife Ursula Walleston and their six sons. They are commemorated on one of the five fine brasses in the south aisle. John’s will directed that he should be buried in the chancel and he was, but the brasses were all moved to the south aisle at some stage and then rearranged again in c.1953 when the Rev. Oscar Muspratt removed the pews and re-established a Lady Chapel.

The church remained essentially Catholic in appearance and ritual until John Penne was into his teens and he clearly remained Catholic in his sympathies because he and his wife were listed as absentees in 1584 at a time of compulsory church attendance and the following year his wife agreed to pay a fixed annual fine towards providing horses for the Queen’s service in return for exemption from penalties to which they were liable for their recusancy (i.e. their refusal to acknowledge the Queen as head of the Church).

It may well have been that they were protected from the more unpleasant consequences of their loyalty to the old religion by Elizabeth’s fond memories of John’s mother Sybil Penne, foster mother from 1538 onwards to Elizabeth’s young brother who became Edward VI. Sybil lived at court and as John was only a year younger than Elizabeth they may well have played together as children. Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth herself all gave Sybil Penn gifts, land and an annuity. She was still living at Hampton Court when she died of smallpox in 1561.

A few years ago, Earl Howe found amongst his family papers the original letters patent, complete with a large royal seal, appointing John Penn as Elizabeth’s Escheator for Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1574. The Escheator’s role was to ensure that the Crown received its dues when a royal tenant died, either without a successor or when the successor was underage, because in both cases the property reverted to the Crown. It may well have been a lucrative post because John was able to buy a good deal of property in Penn in the 1580s and 90s, including Baylins Manor, land in Forty Green, around Penbury Farm and from the Puttenhams of Puttenham Place.

Reverse of shield

Shield with ‘graffiti’

The brasses were all expertly examined in 1954 when the remaining portion of John’s damaged figure and their joint shield were loose. The shield was found to be a palimpsest, i.e. it had been re-used and the reverse (see illustration) is cut from the brass to a gentleman in a furred gown, c.1520, probably from London monastic spoil following the dissolution of the monasteries. The thickness of the shield is 3.25mm and the figure 2.5mm. For some reason, the initials ‘FL’ and W35(?) have been cut into the shield. Perhaps it is early graffiti?

The inscription is unexpectedly incomplete giving the wrong year and no date for John’s death and no year or age for his wife. The parish register, which could have been consulted, records the burial of ‘Mr John Penne Esquire on 12 Oct 1596 and of Mistress Ursula Pen, wid, on 2 May 1610′. This apparent neglect may reflect an uneasy relationship with their eldest son William since John’s will directs that a covenant to pay William an annuity to keep his family in meat and drink is only to be executed if William behaves himself. The reversion to a Latin inscription may be a last demonstration of their Catholic sympathies. The verse below translates roughly (with thanks to Earl Howe for help in interpreting some apparently rustic Latin)  as follows:

These limbs may be enclosed in an earthen grave
But only the stars hold their pious souls
Those whom love has united death has no power to separate
We have sealed together in this tomb.

© Miles Green, October 2008.

No 6 & 7: John and Elizabeth de la Penne 1521/1537

The earliest surviving monument to anyone from Penn that I have found is a brass to John and Elizabeth de la Penne in St Mary’s, Amersham. It is a surprise to find that although the Muster Returns of 1522 show that John Penne was the biggest landowner in Penn with some 500‐600 acres he was living in Amersham ‘within the town’ where he was assessed with the second highest figure for moveable goods and a further 200 or so acres. He was the ‘firmarius’ or farmer of the Amersham glebe land, a role which also carried the responsibility for care of the church and churchyard.

Although the Penne family were lords of the manor of Penn they did not hold the patronage of Penn Church until Henry VIII granted it to John’s eldest son, David and his wife Sybil (neé Hampden) in 1541 and so John’s residence and burial in Amersham is less surprising. As a consequence of royal grants and patronage, the Penne family were to acquire much more land in and around Penn in the following century and thereafter they were all buried in Penn Church.

There is a plaque on the front of Penn House with the date ‘1536’ which Earl Howe is pretty sure is a souvenir ‐ and a genuine one ‐ from the Tudor house, two thirds of which was pulled down in c.1760.

The memorial brass is on the floor just inside the door of St Andrew’s Chapel in St Mary’s  Amersham. It shows John in civil dress rather than in the armour more usual in a landed family and he is described as ‘Magister John Penne’ in a will of 1520, which translates as ‘Master’ to indicate his social status. The same title was also used for the Rector of Amersham, the Vicar of Penn and another lord of the manor and could have indicated an MA. The French form of his name as ‘de la penne’ on the brass had gone out of fashion a century and a half earlier, and he was not using it when he appeared in the court hearing of 1520 or in 1496 when he was recorded as John Pen. Its use would seem to be a proud assertion of his ancient lineage. No brasses of any contemporaries survive in St Mary’s, which again tends to confirm his comparatively high status.

(continued …… (7))

The previous article noted that earliest surviving monument to anyone from Penn seems to be the memorial brass to John and Elizabeth de la Penne, which is now under the carpet just inside the door of St Andrew’s Chapel in St Mary’s Amersham. It shows John in civil dress rather than in the armour more usual in a landed family, but a proud assertion of his ancient lineage would seem indicated by his use of the French form of his name which had gone out of fashion a century and a half earlier.

The Monumental Brasses of Buckinghamshire notes that two parts of the original brass have been lost – a depiction of 5 sons and 6 daughters as well as two shields bearing the arms of husband and wife – and observes that John’s date of death has been added later to the brass. The brasses were moved from the south transept to the north transept (now St Andrew’s Chapel) in 1973, but as there is no mention of the depiction of sons and daughters in a record of 1847 (George Lipscomb’s History and antiquities of the County of Buckingham), the damage must have been done earlier, perhaps in a move from the chancel. The style of engraving is of a London workshop of that period. The later addition of John’s date of death in 1537 indicates that the brass was engraved around the time of the earlier death of his wife Elizabeth, in 1521. A space (shown on  the right in yellow highlight) was left blank for John’s date from ‘obiit’ in line 4 below to ‘quor’ on the next line, but it was restricted and so the inscription is in a considerably more contracted form than his wife’s.

The inscription is in Latin, as was still generally the custom at that time before the Reformation, and the many contractions makes the words difficult to read, particularly when combined with the scribe’s uncertain Latin and difficult Tudor script. The original inscription has a line above a word or a superscript to indicate a contraction. The letters omitted are shown in red in the transcript below:

Orate pro anīmabus Johannīs de la penne et Elizabeth uxoris eius filie Petri Hally
Pray for the souls of John de la penne and of his wife Elizabeth daughter of Peter Hally

Armigeri que quaedem Elizabeth obiit vicesimo primo die mensis
Esquire and the certain (same) Elizabeth died on the twenty first day of the month

Novembris Anno uni millesimo v°xxj°
of November in the one thousandth year 5 hundred and 21

Et Idem Johannis obiit xxvij die mense decembris
And the same John died on the 27th day in the month of December

Anno uni m v xxxvij quorum animabus pro’picíetur Deus. Amen.
in the one thousandth year 5 hundred and 37 may God have mercy on their souls. Amen.

© Miles Green, December 2007, February, 2008
Photographs © courtesy Eddie Morton ARPS