Denham

Since earliest times Denham has been owned or visited by many famous people. Connected for centuries to Westminster Abbey, Denham played host to visiting abbots and later, when ancient Savay Farm became a convalescent home for nuns, it is pleasant to imagine the nuns sporting themselves beside the river as their health improved.
At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Denham was leased to Sir Edmund Peckham, Master of the Mint to Henry VIII, and his son, Sir George, is believed to have entertained Queen Elizabeth I at Denham. If so, Sir George must have overspent on his entertaining, because his estates were seized by the Crown in 1596 for debt, and leased to Sir William Bowyer.

Great Royalists, the Bowyer family lost their fortunes during the Civil War and sold the Manor of Denham to Sir Roger Hill, who built the lovely Denham Place, at a cost of £5,591.16.9d., between 1688 and 1701. Very little changed since 1770, Denham Place has recently received a million pound face-lift by the Sheraton Hotel Management Corporation.

While Denham Place was being built for him, Sir Roger Hill lived in Hill's House, a beautiful mid-17th century red-brick house with Dutch gables, situated in the village street, close to the church. Hill's House is now owned by Sir John Mills, the famous film actor, who could be seen on his doorstep every Village Fayre Day, presiding over his popular Bottle Stall.

In 1250 a charter for a weekly market and an annual fair was granted to the Lord of the Manor. The annual fair continues to this day and every year we enjoy stalls, bands, Punch and Judy shows, bouncy castles and roundabouts on the Village Green, presented to the inhabitants of Denham by Herbert Ward in 1952, and refresh ourselves at the three excellent old pubs grouped around the Green.

A quarter of an hour's stroll from the village green, back along the Pyghtle, takes a visitor to the oldest building in Denham -Savay Farm. Built on the site of the original Manor House, the farm was fortified and once surrounded by a moat.
Originally a great hall built on Sarsen stones with many very ancient timbers, Savay Farm has been added to over the centuries. At one time Savay Farm was a common lodging house, charging 4d. a night without supper and 6d. a night with supper, and the present owner possesses a notice board requesting lodgers not to wear their boots in bed. During his Black shirt days, Savay Farm was owned by Sir Oswald Mosley.

Not all of Denham is ancient. Close to Savay Farm lies our 'village within a village' the Garden Village of the Licensed Victuallers, of beautifully laid out retirement homes for ex-publicans. Once a year, each July, the Homes hold a garden party and become a mecca for beautifully dressed ladies and their escorts to enjoy their reunions. A few years ago the Duke of Edinburgh opened the garden party by driving in an open carriage through the streets of Denham.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987) and reproduced here with their permission