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The Graduation of the Reverend Gerald Hayward B.A. M.A.

This highly evocative and delightfully informal photograph, taken in the summer of 1913, shows the soon to be Vicar of St. Margaret’s Tylers Green, Gerald Hayward, outside Christ College Cambridge following presentation of his B.A. On his right are his proud parents, William Dunning Hayward and Mary Louise Blackwell Hayward (nee Hansell). His father was from Dorchester, whilst his mother came from North Shields in Northumberland, on his left stands his younger sister Gladys Mary Hayward, at this time the family home was in Broadstairs Kent. He married in May 1917 Dorothy Ellen Phillips who also came from the Kent town. There were no children.

He was born in May 1891 in Croydon, where his father ran a printing and publishing business and after a successful academic career, which also saw him obtain an M.A. in 1917, he became Curate at Christ Church Croydon, before holding the living at Christ Church Chelsea from 1915 until 1918. He saw service in the Great War as a Senior Chaplain to the Forces and in August 1918 was presented by Earl Howe with the living of St. Margaret’s, his annual income however was less than £300.

So began his 33 year tenure as the 6th Vicar of Tylers Green, during which time he saw to the spiritual needs of many of the local inhabitants, however he was just a spectator in 1919 at what must have been the largest funeral then seen at St.Margarets, following the death of the second Sir Philip Rose, by this time Sir Philip had converted to Catholicism and his funeral took the form of a Requiem Mass held in the chapel at Rayners followed by internment in the family vault at St. Margaret’s, Priests from local Catholic churches including St Augustine’s on Amersham Hill presided at the service. It appears that not all his services took place in Tylers Green, as in 1929 he attended the funeral of the 4th Earl Howe in Holy Trinity Penn Street and in 1932 he played a part together with the then Vicar of Holy Trinity Penn, the Rev E Smith, in the funeral service of Sir Donald MacLean. However, one of his more intriguing marriage services was when he officiated at the wedding of one Edgar Whyte better known as “Eddie Steele” when he married in St Marys Appledram Kent in 1939. The Southern Area Heavyweight Boxing Champion had fought Tommy Farr among others.

The fabric of the Church continued to change during Gerald Hayward’s incumbency, new vestries were installed in 1922, an extension to the Chancel and a new east window in 1932, the pews were cleaned in 1934 and the oak doors were added in 1935.

He died suddenly at his home in Tylers Green on Sunday 12th August 1951 aged just 60. He had conducted the morning services at St Margaret’s, but complained of feeling unwell during the afternoon and died a few hours later. After a Memorial Service at St Margaret’s on Wednesday 15th August a cremation took place at Woking Surrey. He was survived by his widow Dorothy who died in Penn in 1973.

Ronald Saunders, St Margaret’s and Holy Trinity Penn Parish Newsletter, June  2018

Rev. John Kenneth Siderfin 1952-1966

John Kenneth Siderfin was born 5th October 1905, at Nether Compton in Dorset, with an older brother Hugh.  Their mother died when John was 10 years old.

The family moved to North London, and John was educated at the Stationer’s Company School.

John and Grace Castle were married 27th April 1929 at St. Marks, Tollington, Islington, and then lived at Pitsea Essex.  They had two children, David 1931 and Stephen. 1932.

John worked for the LNER at Stratford, East London. The family moved to Chesham in 1940, and John was ‘called up’ in 1942.

After he was demobbed, John studied at London College of Divinity, at Northwood, and was ordained deacon in 1948.  He served his curacy at St. Paul’s in Slough and was ordained priest in 1949, and moved to St. Mary’s, Beaconsfield.

John was appointed vicar of St. Margaret’s in 1952, and died in office of a pulmonary embolism, 20th September 1966, aged 60.  His ashes are buried at Nether Compton.

Thanks to Steve Siderfin and Peter Stapleton for these notes.

Rev. Michael E. Hall M.A. (1981 – 2000)

Tylers Green will be without a regular vicar for some time following the retirement of the vicar of St Margaret’s, the Rev Michael Hall, in April. A spokesman for the Wycombe Deanery said retirements and departures were due in a number of Wycombe area churches, as well as neighbouring parishes, in the next couple of years so the church would use the opportunity to review the overall position and listen to the views of parishioners.

An interregnum – an interval between the departure of one person and the arrival of another – is usual in the church once a vicar leaves a parish. The Deanery spokesman said that over the years the make-up of parishes in and around the Wycombe area had changed and populations had shifted. Some churches were now busier than others so the time seemed right to review the general position.

Both the Rev Nigel Stowe, the vicar of Penn Street and Holmer Green; and the Rev Carol Williams, the vicar of Penn (both areas are not in the Wycombe Deanery) are due to leave in about two years due to retirement and end of contract respectively. If any changes to personnel or church boundaries are to be considered it could therefore be a number of years before the Bishop of Oxford makes a final decision.

In the meantime a locum is likely to oversee church affairs at St Margaret’s following the Rev Hall’s retirement to Cornwall with his wife Joyce. He had been vicar at St Margaret’s for nearly 20 years and during his tenure he oversaw the extension and modernisation of the Parish Rooms.

Never one to shirk controversy, he and his parochial church council fought strong campaigns against the ordination of women and the liberalisation of homosexuality issues. In 1996 St Margaret’s applied for oversight by a “flying” bishop because of its opposition to women priests; and in 1998 the Rev Hall and the PCC told the Archbishop of Canterbury that St Margaret’s no longer accepted the authority of the Bishop of Oxford as its diocesan bishop because of the bishop’s “liberal statements”. St Margaret’s has refused to pay its quota payments – the amount a parish pays to the diocese to cover costs such as salaries and administration – for a number of years. There have also been legal battles highlighted in the national press and some lively exchanges with village organisations, including Chepping Wycombe Parish Council and the Residents’ Association. The congregation has also raised many hundreds of pounds for various overseas missions during the Rev Hall’s tenure .

Village Voice 78, April/May 2000

Rev. Mike Bisset, (2003)

Mike grew up in West London and became a Christian through a school Christian Union Camp at the age of 13. From school he joined the Ministry of Defence and worked in London Headquarters for 22 years before receiving the call to ministry. He trained at Oakhill Theological College on the North Thames Ministerial Course and was ordained at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1999. He served his 4 year curacy at St Giles Ickenham before taking up his current post in Penn and Tylers Green in July 2003. For recreation he sails, plays guitar and runs around the parish in a ‘Smart’ two seater sports car (having given up his beloved motorbike!) He takes theology books on holiday with him and enjoys books on psychology (so what does that tell us about him!). He is married with 3 grown up children.

Constance Elfrida Ingpen / DelaMare

In front of St Margaret’s church, by the large war memorial beech tree, is a white gravestone ‘In Memory of Constance Elfrida Ingpen’.  Not an instantly recognisable Tylers Green name.  The inscription continues, ‘Devoted wife of Walter de la Mare, Loving mother of her four children, 20 Sept 1861 – 10 July 1943’.
How did Walter de la Mare’s wife come to be buried in St Margaret’s churchyard?

Constance Elfrida Ingpen and the 20 year old Walter de la Mare met at the Esperanza drama group in Wandsworth in 1893.

Elfrida in her ‘Esperanza’ days

Elfrida was their leading lady, the star of their productions, and Walter or ‘Jack’ (from his middle name John) was a junior clerk with the Anglo-American Oil company (later to become ESSO), and an aspiring author. In May 1894 Jack and Elfrida took leading roles in a play written by Jack, and although Elfrida was more than 10 years older than Jack they soon became an ‘item’.  Elfrida, affectionately known as ‘Elfie’, had a hard childhood after both her parents died, she had been previously engaged, but her fiancée had died before they were married.

Walter and Elfie didn’t rush into marriage, mainly for financial reasons, and it wasn’t until the 4th August 1899 that they were married quietly at Battersea parish church. Walter continued working for Anglo-American until 1908 when his writing was producing enough income to support his wife and family of four small children.

They lived at various addresses in London and in 1925 moved to Hill House in Taplow which was to be their home until 1939.  Hill House now has a blue plaque.

In September 1939 Elfrida suffered a pulmonary embolism, only days after war had been declared. Elfrida and Walter were invited by their eldest daughter Florence and her husband Rupert to stay with them at the Old Park, Hammersley Lane, for Elfrida to convalesce.  Walter and Elfrida gave up Hill House, and moved their home to a flat in Twickenham where they thought Elfrida would be better able to manage as her health improved. Unfortunately she never fully recovered and also developed Parkinsons Disease.  Elfrida and Walter spent most of their time living with Florence and Rupert at the Old Park to be safe from the constant air raids on London.

The Old Park, Hammersley Lane

The 1939 register shows 20 people living at the Old Park.  Florence and her husband Rupert Thompson and their children, four domestic staff, Walter and Elfrida and three other aged Ingpen relations, plus a school teacher and three children with different surnames, presumably evacuees. Their neighbour at Rathenrae, (now Folly Meadow), across Hammersley Lane, the Indian princess Sophia Duleep Singh also had three evacuee children. Their next-door neighbour at Colehatch House was Sophia’s sister Catherine.  After her sister’s death in 1942, Sophia renamed Colehatch House to Hilden Hall as a tribute to her sister, Hilda was Catherine’s middle name, although another suggestion is that it was named after a place where they had lived in Germany.

Elfrida died on the 10th of July 1943, and was buried at St Margaret’s.  A little known connection between Tylers Green and Walter de la Mare and his family.  Walter died in 1959 and is buried in St Paul’s Cathedral where he was a choir boy.

Acknowledgements to the excellent biography of Walter de la Mare, by Theresa Whistler which has a few photographs taken at the Old Park, although the original house was completely rebuilt a few years ago in a very modern style.

Peter Strutt, St. Margarets and Holy Trinity Penn Parish Newsletter, February 2018
(Elfrida and Old park photographs from ‘The Life of Walter Delamere’, Theresa Whistler)

An extract from the biography of ‘Sophia’, by Anita Anand, p.367.

‘One time in 1942 I think, we were late back … The princess was waiting for us as usual, and demanded to know where we had been,’ recalled Shirley (the eldest evacuee child). ‘We told her a nice old man had stopped us on the way home and wanted to know all about us … She was furious. She told us never to talk to strangers again, and got straight on the phone to the local policeman. She must have given him quite the earful because he was off on his bike immediately, huffing and puff­ing up and down the lane to investigate. It turned out the old man was Walter de la Mare, who was staying with his daugh­ter in Penn. He was working on a poem about evacuees. We felt terrible for the trouble we caused for him. Poor man got the fright of his life!’

Eliabeth von Arnim – Author of ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’

As you walk into St Margaret’s Church from Hammersley Lane, you will see two small stone tablets on the far left outside corner of the church, one above the other. The lower one is inscribed ‘Sydney Beauchamp, ‘the Beloved physician’. The upper one says ‘Mary Annette Countess Russell, ‘Elizabeth’, Parva sed apta’.

Who were they?
Sir Sydney Beauchamp (1861-1921) was a distinguished doctor whose career high point was as the resident Medical Officer to the British Delegation during the peace Conference in Paris in 1919. His local connection was that he built Salter’s Meadow in Beacon Hill, in 1902, on six acres of land, the first sold by the Penn Estate to meet death duties after the third Earl died in 1900. He was killed in a street accident in London in 1921.

Elizabeth Russell (1866-1941) was his devoted younger sister. She was born Mary Annette Beauchamp and married a Prussian aristocrat, Count von Arnim, in 1891, by whom she had four daughters and a son.. She became an overnight sensation when her first semi-autobiographical novel, Elizabeth and her German Garden, was published anonymously in 1898 and was reprinted 21 times in the first year. From then on, writing became a central part of her life and 20 novels followed all described as ‘by the author of Elizabeth and her German garden.’

Her husband died in 1910 and she returned to live partly in England and partly in Switzerland. The First World War trapped two of her daughters in Germany and she herself, also a German citizen, only got back from Switzerland at the last minute using a passport lent by one of her brother’s patients. Her other two daughters, born in Berlin and with guttural German accents, had to report weekly to a police station and their Uncle Sinner (Sydney) arranged for them to work as nurses in a London hospital. In 1916, she married for the second time, to the second Earl Russell, Bertrand Russell’s elder brother. It was not a success and they separated after three years with Elizabeth seeking refuge with her brother, as she always did in times of crisis, describing him as an angel. He had delivered three of her children.

She was a very attractive personality, intensely vivacious with an impish, sometimes cruel wit and a circle of devoted friends and admirers. Her children’s tutors included the young E.M.Forster and Hugh Walpole and she had an affair with H.G.Wells. She was close to her children, particularly in her later years and greatly missed her brother after his untimely death. She died in 1941 at the age of 75 in the USA, after catching a cold, and it was not until 1947 that her daughter was able to bring her ashes back to England for burial next to her brother in St Margaret’s. She had chosen the inscription, ‘Parva sed apta’, small but capable, which described her precisely.

A final intriguing twist to the tale is that she may have lived at some time in St Margaret’s Cottage next door to Threshers on School Road. In 1960, when the one large house was split into two by Veronica Papworth, a well-known fashion commentator and illustrator (who lived at Stonehouse in Penn from 1953), she called one Elizabeth’s Garden and the other Elizabeth Cottage (they are now St Margaret’s and Silvester Cottage). She told me many years later that she had seen Elizabeth von Arnim’s name on the deeds and she was clearly convinced of the connection. I have to say that the name is not on any deeds that I have seen, but the house was let for many years and Elizabeth would have been a tenant. Nor, oddly enough, is there any mention of visits to Penn or  Tylers Green in her biography (by Leslie de Charms, Heineman 1958). Her brother also had a flat in London, but it seems very unlikely that she did not visit her brother at his country home.

Miles Green, October 2006

When the Village Pond was our only Water Supply

Village historian Miles Green has unearthed the following letter from the files of the Church Commissioners in London. It was written by the Rev. Ashley Spencer, vicar of Tylers Green from 1883 to 1918 (Ashley Drive is named after him), and it illustrates just how important Widmer Pond – the pond on the common – was to villagers at the time, because it was the only water supply for the population. Unlike today, ducks were positively discouraged because they could contaminate the water.

The letter – reprinted exactly as written – was written to the pond’s owners at the time, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, on June 11th 1893. It reads:

“I have been deputed as Vicar of this Parish to write to you with regard to a large Pond which forms the principal, and in such times as these, the only water supply of the greater portion of the inhabitants numbering over 1,000 in the radius.

Mr Dan Clarke of High Wycombe, your representative, has advised me to write for your permission to clean out the Pond, now that it is nearly empty, and this we are quite willing to do, at our own expense if necessary, – but we want more than this – we want to put it in thorough repair, and fence it round etc., etc. If you as Lords of the Manor will not only give us the permission to do so, but will also (as you have done in the case of the Common here) take it under your protection, and put up a board similar in Terms to that you have had put up to preserve the Common.

The Pond is called Widmer Pond and is just on the borders of High Wycombe Civil Parish – indeed the boundary line between the Unions of Amersham and Wycombe passes through the middle of the Pond. In times past we have spent over £200 on the Pond and Pump, with the most unsatisfactory results as the Pump has been destroyed, and the filter tank we had put in is thus rendered useless.

Both Sir Philip Rose and I feel it is useless to spend any more money on it as private individuals, unless and until the Pond is properly protected as belonging to some public body who will if necessary prosecute offenders.

I shall be up in Town on Thursday morning, and could call to see you and explain more fully, if you could arrange to see me say at any time from 10.30 to 11.30 or 10 to 11.

The matter is urgent for we have a water famine here now, and want to prevent such a thing happening again, if we can, by making the Pond once more sound and Clean.

I should be very glad of an answer by return, at all events giving us leave to Clean the pond, and the rest could wait until I have seen you. Our meeting last night was a representative one – and we have adjourned until next Saturday, when I hope to be able to report favourably the results of my application.

I remain Gentlemen Yours very faithfully, R.F. Ashley Spencer. Vicar of Tylers Green

The vicar was successful in his plea, although a fence was never erected.

The pond in 1906, from where the bus shelter now is.

Miles Green, Village Voice 71, Feb/March 1999