PENN, In the hundred and deanery of Burnham, lies about three miles north-west of Beaconsfield, and nearly four miles east of High-Wycombe. Penn (as its name, signifying the head, or top, implies,) stands on very high ground: the counties of Berks, Oxford, Bedford, Herts, Essex, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, and it is supposed some parts of Sussex and Northamptonshire, may be seen from the church tower. About half a mile from the church is a spot called Beacon-hill, which it is probable has been formerly used as a signal post. A manor in Penn was from a very early period in the ancient family of that name which became extinct in the elder branch by the death of Roger Penn esq. in 1735, when this estate passed by the marriage of his sister and sole heir to Sir Nathaniel Curzon bart. whose grandson, Lord Curzon, is the present proprietor. The greater part of Penn house was pulled down about the year 1760; the remainder has been fitted up by Lord Curzon as an occasional residence.
The manor of Segraves, in Penn, now considered as the principal manor, belonged, in the reign of Henry II. to the family of Turville. Being vested in the crown, Edward II. gave it to his brother Thomas de Brotherton, from whom it descended to the Segraves, Mowbrays, and Berkeleys. The Marquis of Berkeley gave it, among other estates, to Sir Reginald Bray: it afterwards became the property of the Penns, from whom it passed, by inheritance, to Lord Curzon. The site of Segraves is moated.
The Windsor family had a manor in Penn in the reign of Queen Elizabeth called Bilinges; this is supposed to be a farm now called Bailing, which has been many years annexed to Lord Curzon's estate.
The Baker family had a seat in this parish, which was sold by their representative John Baker Holroyd, now Lord Sheffield. By a subsequent purchase it became the property of baroness Howe, relict of the Hon. P.A. Curzon. The house is occupied as a school for the sons of French emigrants, particularly those of the nobility, and of officers who have fallen in the British service. The establishment was instituted by government, and originally consisted of 60 boys, with a head master and three assistants, but the number has been gradually decreasing, and the establishment will, of course, ere long cease.
In the parish church are memorials of the families of Penn, Curzon, and Baker. Among these is a monument erected in memory of the two first wives of Lord Curzon, [Footnote: Esther, his first wife, daughter of William Hanmer esq. died in 1764; and Dorothy, sister of the late earl Grosvenor, his second wife, in 1774.], "two as excellent women as ever blessed the marriage state." The monument of the Hon. Penn Asheton Curzon, who died in 1797, is by Bacon. There is a monument also for Gen. Haviland, who died in 1784.
The rectory of Penn was given by Lord Segrave to the priory of Chacombe, in Northamptonshire. King Henry VIII. granted it to Daniel Penn, whose wife Sibel was nurse to King Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth. It is now the property of Lord Curzon who is patron of the vicarage.
Penn-street, Knattocks, or Knotty-green, and Forty-green, are in this parish.