Penn & Tylers Green

The area of the continuous villages of Penn and Tylers Green was once the centre of a flourishing tiling industry, whose products provided flooring for many local churches, and also parts of Windsor Castle and the Palace of Westminster.
Nothing of this can now been seen — apart from the odd tile fragment which villagers still might encounter while digging in the garden, and various 'dells' whence clay was dug; — even the tiles from the floor of Penn Church have been moved to the Herts County Museum at St Albans, and we are only reminded of the mediaeval tilers by the names of Tylers Green, Potters Cross and Clay Street.
In the 14th century, tiles were replacing beaten earth for floors, and were produced in many areas, but it is suggested that what made the Penn tiles so sought-after was a technique, possibly introduced by one 'Simon the Payver' of burning glazed floor tiles patterned in two colours — at a price that could undercut other producers. Because of the difficulty in transporting these tiles, the area they were used in was fairly local, but Hedsor wharf on the Thames was accessible by track, and as well as satisfying local customers, the tiles could be despatched even as far as Cobham in Kent, to London and to Windsor.

There used to be a large house at Tyler End Green overlooking the Common, close to Widmer Pond. In 1680, Nathaniel Curzon bought 'the capital messuage at or near Tiler End Greene with its outhouses, stables, yards, gardens and backsides' together with 48 acres, for £477, 'being the greatest price they could get'. Included in the 48 acres were 4 acres immediately adjoining the house running from where The Red Lion and Bank House now stand down to French Meadow Cottage.

Edmund Burke, an Irishman, was a Member of Parliament elected for Wendover under the patronage of Ralph, second Earl Verney, and he was a clever writer and a brilliant talker and deeply involved in all the great issues of his day. In 1794, aged 65, he retired from Parliament to Gregories. In the same year Tylers Green House had been leased to the Government who urgently needed accommodation for a large number of French priests, refugees from the French Revolution. Burke considered the house totally unsuitable for that purpose but was desperate to find somewhere to set up a school for French boys, sons of men who had been killed in the Emigre Corps or still on active service. He set out his proposal for such a school in the house at Penn to the Prime Minister, William Pitt. He described the plight of the poor children living in the squalor of the back streets of London so vividly that Pitt agreed to the scheme and its financing and Burke was made responsible for setting up the school at Tylers Green House to house 60 boys.
After the restoration of the French Monarchy in 1814 it was taken over by the French Government but closed in 1820. Two years after the School was closed, the house was sold by auction, pulled down and carried away.

Penn and Tylers Green is now better known as the area from which commuters set off on their daily journey to work in the London area.

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