High Bois House is a grand Arts and Crafts house built around 1902 by Kemp and How, London architects who built many houses for Arthur Lasenby Liberty in Great Missenden and the Lee.
High Bois has been owned by some very talented people.
In 1911 Kemp and How renovated the neighbouring parish church, St Leonard’s adding a vestry and extending the nave and north aisle to seat up to 250 people. Arthur Liberty had purchased 60 acres of land in Chesham Bois in 1896, selling most of it at auction later that year as building plots. It is assumed that he built High Bois House speculatively as we have been unable to prove the local story that it was originally built for a member of the Liberty family. In fact, the first owner of the magnificent High Bois House was the noted and eminent physician, Arthur Pearson Luff who is credited as being one of the founders of 20th century forensic medicine. Amongst other positions he was scientific analyst to the Home Office between 1892 and 1908 and appeared as an expert witness in cases of criminal poisoning. It appears High Bois was not the family’s main place of residence, though he did have the house furnished and may have used it at weekend/holidays. He sold the house in 1919 and ended his retirement in Surrey, dying at the age of 82.
In the 1920’s the house was owned by Lewis Stroud, a civil servant. His main achievement came later, during the Second World War, when he served as a contract officer for the Air Ministry. For this he was awarded an OBE. On moving into High Bois we know that the Stroud’s held social and fundraising events in the house and its grounds. They kept three parlour maids, a cook and gardener. But they too had their main residence in London and did not live full time in the house. Lewis was a family man with a wife and two young sons Anthony and Michael. They both emigrated in later life – Peter becoming an abstract artist and Professor of Painting. We know the house was up for sale in 1929.
The next significant owner was Douglas Burn, a chartered civil and mechanical engineer with a degree from Cambridge . Before purchasing High Bois he had served with the RAF in the First World War and worked for the oil industry in Shanghai and Singapore. He married his wife Margaret in 1934 and it is after this he settled at High Bois. They had one son, John. After he sold High Bois Douglas stayed in Amersham and lived in Sycamore Road until his death in 1977.