In Pictures - Part I
Updated: Oct 25, 2021
The attractiveness of Denham Village to visitors is nothing new. It has been a postcard village for over a hundred years. Several local residents have kept their photo collections and have enabled us to scan them for the History Project. Here are some of them with short back stories to explain them. There will be more later this month.
The Ordnance Survey map from 1894/5 shows the village from Denham Place to Denham Court. Access to the village had been improved by the addition of New Road (now Old Mill Road) and the Blackbarn Cottages were newly constructed to replace the old buildings of Andrews Farm which stretched all the way out to the Grand Union Canal to the east and to the road into Uxbridge to the south. The village centre was limited to the cluster of houses and shops to the west of St. Mary's Church with only the old disused Corn Mill and The Cedars (now much enlarged into The White House) to the south of Village Road - then just "The Village".
A corn mill, long known as the Town Mill, is believed to have stood on the site of Mill House drawing power from the Misbourne River since the 11th century and mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Denham Court, shown here as it was in the 1890s, was the home for several generations of the Bowyer family. Originally built to the order of Sir William Bowyer in the late 17th century after the Bowyers had vacated and sold Denham Place, it was used by the Middlesex County Council as a children's home and an approved school in the mid 20th century. It passed through the ownership of different local authorities until in the 1990s it was sold to become the headquarters of the Buckinghamshire Golf Club.
For more about Denham Court and the Bowyer family click here.
To the north of Andrews Farm, Denham Court Farm occupied most of the land behind Village Road. The farmhouse and the older outbuildings date from the early 17th century with later additions in the subsequent century when the Bowyers were in residence at the Denham Court Mansion. In more recent times the barn has been used to provide film production facilities and as a wedding venue until redeveloped together with the other buildings on the site as private residences.
Cedar Cottage and Cedar Tree Cottage once formed part of the estate attached to The Cedars, the property now known as The White House opposite on Village Road. In this photo from the 1900s note to the right the house which stood at the corner of what was once known as Church Road. On this short lane there were six small houses, one of them in 1881 accommodating no less than 13 members of the Springle family, a baby, a two year old, six children at school and Alfred and Diana Springle labouring on the farm alongside three more of their teenage children.
In 1670, the committed anti-Royalist and later member of Parliament for Amersham, Sir Roger Hill purchased Denham Court from Sir William Bowyer and set about building himself a mansion house. It seems that on moving to the other side of the village, Sir William took with him the name Denham Court so that Sir Roger had to find a new name for his newly acquired property and he chose "Denham Place". Meanwhile whilst awaiting completion of the construction of the mansion, Sir Roger needed somewhere to live. The house he chose carries his name Hills House, seen here in a photo from 1906.
Hills House is well known as the 20th century home of film producers, actors and a Broadway theatre producer named Ethel Linder Reiner. In times past it housed the more senior members of the Way family's Denham Place household below stairs, notably in 1901 Henry Newland, the butler and Joseph Sanders, the domestic coachman.
Behind Hills House is Bowyer House, now a private residence but until the 1870s the school for village children. It was established as a school with an annual endowment of £30 by Sir William Bowyer in 1721, the good Sir William expressing his sensibility of "the blessings and enlightenment of education". The school closed in 1876 when its function was taken over by the publicly financed school established on Cheapside Lane. Known in later years as the Bowyer Room it became the meeting place for the parish council and a village hall for concerts, events and political meetings. It also, for a while, provided a centre for the 1st Denham Scouts.
Click here for more about Bowyer House.
The property now known as Fayrstede takes its name from the 14th century local landowner John de Fayrstede. There is a record from 1326 of a property with land attached named Fayrstedes in the parish, though the present building dates only from the 17th century. As seen in this photo from 1899 Fayrstede is actually four separate dwellings. Beyond them is the Eight Bells former beer house named after the bells in St. Mary's Church tower and, until three years before this photograph was taken, home to the artists Sir William Nicholson and Mabel Pryde and birthplace of Ben Nicholson. We know it as The White Cottage. Note how narrow the road is at this point although behind the fence to the left of the picture there were only fields and orchards.
More here about the Nicholsons and for more about house names in the village click here.
The three photos above, the first taken from the east side of Village Road and the other two from a similar position on the west side, date from the 1890s/1900s. They show the north side of the road including The Swan and The Green Man and in the case of the first looking on to Winton House and the Old Bakery.
A wider view of the first of the above photos dating from 1904 shows to the right a woman holding a baby. The Church Road houses are gone by this time. The Springle family members who lived there are spread throughout the village and beyond but we suspect that in the doorway of one of the Wistaria Cottages is Emily Springle with her little daughter Margaret.
The photo here, a little later than the previous one has what appears to be the grocery delivery from the horse and cart. Enlarge the screen and look closely to see that, rather than offering fine dining, Lewis Bampton at The Swan or his successor Robert Taylor were apparently more interested in providing "Teas".
A little later still, the ivy has been cut back and The Swan has extended its hospitality to "Luncheons". At her door again is what looks like Emily Springle and my, how Margaret has grown.
Lewis Bampton had evidently hit on a good idea which provoked some competition. Soon "Teas" were also being advertised in the shop across the road (before it acquired its bow fronted windows) and in The Post Office next door to that. Even then it seems Denham Village was attracting visitors seeking a little R and R in the countryside away from London with tea and sandwiches to fortify them - though mercifully there were clearly few, if any, cars.
"The Post Office". Denham had its own village post office ?
Indeed it did - though it doubled as the tailor and draper's shop during the 1890s and 1900s under the no doubt wise and honest guidance of the postmaster and tailor Mr. Edwin Wiggins. It was a family business, 22 year old Albert Wiggins taking on the role of "letter carrier" as well as tailoring and 18 year old Ada contributing her skills in the amazing new means of communication, telegraphy. They must of course have known that in earlier times part of their 18th century home and shop had been yet another supplier of beer to the thirsty farm labourers of Denham operating under the name of The Black Donkey.
The post office was at the centre of Denham Village's "shopping parade" for amongst the neighbours was the store of Mr. Hoffman's the greengrocer and coal merchant's , Mr. Rance's village general store, later acquired by Sidney Williams whose name splendidly adorned its magnificent bow fronted window, the butchers and one of two village bakeries. By the 1920s the Post Office was also supplying the village children with sweets and chocolates with the post office relegated to the back of the shop.
To the left on this postcard photo from the 1900s, looking east, can be seen the oldest cottage in the village, or at least the oldest still to be seen mostly in its original state. The Old Cottage is a Tudor construction dating from the 16th century. A little further along, The Green Man has not yet acquired its outdoor seating area and is obviously then the beerhouse where the local farm labourers went to slake their thirst after a hard day in the fields - in contrast with The Swan Inn grandly serving Teas and Luncheons.
The Old Bakery really is the oldest house in the village though as can be seen from the contrast between this photograph and the way it looks now, it has been largely rebuilt around its original frame dated, according to its listing, from the 15th/16th century (but see the very helpful comment from Christopher Carter below suggesting an earlier date). When this photo was taken The Old Bakery was three separate dwellings one of which, probably the one in the centre of the photo, was certainly a bakery and a baker's shop. An earlier building on this site, just outside the hunting grounds of what we know now as the Denham Place estate, housed the local sheriff who looked after the manor of Denham and kept the peace on behalf of the Abbots of Westminster, the manor being in the Abbey's ownership from before William the Conqueror arrived in England in 1066 until the middle of the 16th century.
More about the Old Bakery.
There is another photo looking towards The Old Bakery It is intriguing for opposite should be the village green. Instead there appear to be houses ...
Next time - What are those houses on the village green ? What is going on outside The Falcon with all those horses and people in riding boots ? Where is Milchester ?
And do we know who actually lived in these houses ? All this and more.
The photo/postcard collections of Neil Watson, Rob Graham and Ann Collins together with photos supplied by David Brench (The Falcon), Julie Williams and Bob and Jean James
Discovery | The National Archives