The Penn House Estate, Penn Street, near Amersham, Buckinghamshire, situated in one of the prettiest parts of the Chilterns, has been passed down in a direct family line since the Middle Ages. Earl Howe, the present custodian, is the successor of at least fifteen previous generations of the Penn, Curzon, and Howe families who have made Penn their home. As it stands today the estate owes much to grants of land made by Henry VIII and his son, Edward VI to David and Sybil Penn in recognition of the latter’s role as nursemaid to the royal children during the 1530s and 40s.
The current Earl, Frederick Howe, lives in Penn House with his wife Elizabeth. They have three daughters, Anna, Flora, and Lucy, and a son, Tom. Earl Howe has been an active parliamentarian in the House of Lords since he inherited the title. He is a Conservative hereditary peer and, after spells in Agriculture, Health, and Defence Ministries is currently the Deputy Leader of the House of Lords. Countess Howe was High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire from 2010 to 2012 and is now Lord Lieutenant of the County.
The estate’s characteristic mixture of enclosed grazing land and pockets of traditional ancient woodland probably changed little between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. However in about 1870, extensive areas of oak and beech woods were planted, both to enhance Penn’s appeal as a shooting estate and to ensure a source of local supply of raw materials to the furniture industry of High Wycombe.
During the latter part of the twentieth century, a number of the tenant farms on the estate were vacated and taken in hand, with smaller fields and paddocks being amalgamated. In the process, the agricultural emphasis shifted increasingly from livestock to arable cropping.
Today, prominent stands of mature beechwoods, rolling fields, and newly restored hedgerows combine to provide one of the most attractive areas of scenic beauty in South Buckinghamshire. The Estate has been granted official ‘heritage’ status: its paths and bridleways are well-used by walkers and horse riders. There is an abundance of wildlife interest.