This article was written by Wendy Tibbitts.  See also her article about the Kender Mason family of Beel House.

Beel House as it is now

If you are in Little Chalfont and driving towards Amersham along White Lion Road (A404), just after the turning for Cokes Lane, you will pass Snells Wood on the left and then a further wooded area which screens Dr Challoner’s High School from the main road. Beyond that is a small gate-house beside a white pillared gateway without markings. This is the entrance to Beel House.

Beel House has been a Grade II listed building since 1958. In the listing the house is described as “late 18th Century and earlier” with cement rendered walls and parapet. On the parapet are 4 pineapple finials to the front. Inside it has a 18th Century staircase and panelling, and in a rear ground floor room are a “17th Century chamfered ceiling beam and joists”[1]. It has been suggested that the house originated in the Tudor times and was once owned by the Duke of Buckingham.[2] This makes it the oldest house in Little Chalfont.

The original name of Beel House, first appeared in documents, spelled Beale, in 1708. It is not clear where the name, Beale, originated. The entrance to the estate is almost opposite Bell Lane so it could be a corruption of Bell, or it could be a family name of a former resident. Two writers of a local history book believed that the name was a corruption of Bedel or Beadle suggestion that it was the Beadle’s house.[3] This is unlikely. The beadle would have been housed in the centre of the Parish, and as Beel House is two miles from Amersham High Street it was too remote for a Beadle to be able to perform his duties within the Parish.

From: Buckinghamshire Advertiser and Free Press, Saturday 20 July 1929  

Beadles —-The office of Parish Constable with which the Bucks Standing Joint Committee recently declared itself in favour of continuation, is indeed of early origin. The post is, as a matter of fact, practically a descendant of the Parish Beadle of the Middle Ages. A beadle, however seems to have been required to perform multifarious duties. In addition to citing people to appear at court, his office was to apprehend strollers, vagrants and petty offenders in a parish, as well as acting as public crier or “announcer” of lost articles, etc. The parish beadle, who was chosen and appointed by the Vestry, was expected, too, to assist the parish constable. His attire was formerly not unpicturesque with his broad-brimmed hat.

The earliest written accounts of the Estate are from the seventeenth century biography of Mary Penington. She was the wife of the renowned Quaker, Isaac Penington, and the mother-in-law of William Penn of Pennsylvania fame. The family’s home was at The Grange, Chalfont St Peter until it was confiscated by the Crown and by 1666 the family were renting Bury Farm in Amersham. After two years at “Berriehouse” Mary was looking for a more permanent home for the family in the Chalfonts area and was told of a little place for an affordable price that has a house on it “that could be trimmed up.”[4] She was shocked to find that the house “in such a ruinous condition” but she thought through the possibilities for improving it and “in half and hour I had the whole thing clearly in my mind, what to pull down, and what to add.”[5] She sold some land in Kent to buy the property and had a little money left over for some of the renovations. It took four years for the building work to be completed and the family eventually moved into Woodside in 1672.

Mary Penington only ever referred to the property as ‘Woodside’, but biographers called it ‘Woodside Farm’ or ‘Woodside House’.[6] For many years the location of this house was thought to be Woodside Farm in Amersham-on-the-Hill, now the Community Centre. However extensive research by the Rev. G.A. Collins, the former Priest of St Aidan’s Catholic Church which is situated on White Lion Road near the gates of Beel House, has produced a solid argument for the home of the Peningtons at Woodside being Beel House. [7] He cited a number of farm sales in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century which were known to be in the area south of White Lion Road and which were all described as being at Woodside.

1960 OS map SU 99 NE – Snells Farm, Bendrose Farm, Barkers Farm, and Reeve’s Farm are all described as ‘at Woodside’ in the sale indentures.

Plus the Bryants map for 1825 shows the area along the line of White Lion Road as being called Woodside. Rev. Collins interprets Mary Penington’s description of the route she took to view the house at Woodside and comes to the plausible conclusion that she is travelling to Beel House and not to the area now used as a community centre.[8]

Mary Penington died in 1682 and left the Woodside property to her son John Penington who was also her executor. She ‘desired’ that he entertained Friends there “… in the same manner as his dear father used to do.”[9] On deeds and indentures at that time he is described as “of Amersham Woodside, Gent”. His sister, also Mary Penington lived with him at Beale House until her marriage to Daniel Wharley in 1686. Daniel Wharley was a linen merchant of London and they appear to have started their married life living with John Pennington at Beale House because their first two children, twins Mary and John, died there in 1688 having lived for only 3 days. Daniel Wharley was building New House in Chalfont St Giles for his family and they went on to have four more children. John Penington ‘of the hamlet of Woodside’ never married and in his will dated 1708 he left all his property jointly to his brother-in-law, Daniel Wharley, and his former tutor and family friend, Thomas Ellwood, to be held in trust to pay debts and then for the use of his niece, Mary Penington, and in default to various other family members. He died on 8 May 1710 and was buried at Jordans alongside his parents. His will is the first time we see his Woodside property named when he refers to the house as, “‘Beale house’ where I dwell”.[10]

The deeds of Beale House itself are lost after this date, but a Deed of Covenant drawn up when the property changed hands in 1821 lists various documents that indicates who might have lived there before this date.[11] John Penington’s executors, both Quakers, continued to lease the land to members of the Quaker community and it was not until after Thomas Ellwood’s death in 1713 that Daniel and Mary Wharley finally sold Beale House to someone outside the Society of Friends. The messuage was purchased in 1717 by Captain Robert Jackson who was a serving Captain in the Royal Navy. He was still living there in 1722 when he paid a poor rate on “Penningtons” for £3.[12] In 1722 he bought insurance on “a dwellinghouse, brewhouse, coachhouse and stable valued at £500”.[13] Captain Robert Jackson, R.N., was a bachelor who died in 1727. The next document that can be found to trace the ownership of Beel House is a Lease and Release to Thomas White in 1730. Thomas White of Middle Temple had the house, buildings and household goods, valued at £500, insured with Sun Insurance.[14] He lived at Beel House with his wife Margaret until 1748 and in all documents their house is referred to as ‘formerly Pennington’s’. The property was described as “One messuage, one cottage, two gardens, twenty acres of land, right of access to meadow, four acres of wood, and common pasture, with the appurtenances in the parish of Agmondesham otherwise Amersham’.[15]

After 1748 the house changed hands over a twenty-year period from Thomas White and his wife to Philip Harcourt; Johannah Stephens, spinster; William Jennings and finally to George Sutthery.[16] William Jennings, who also had a house in Leadenhall St. London, set off on 15 March 1763 on a voyage to Bengal, India, on behalf of the United East India Company. Before he left he deposited his will with Rev. Dr. Drake, Rector of Amersham and leased out Beale House to George Sutthery. In the will William Jennings left the residue of his estate to trustees for his wife and children. He also bequeathed the lease of Warren Farm, Chalfont St Giles to his parents Joseph and Mary Jennings. Warren Farm is south of Cokes Farm, off Nightingales Lane, between Pollards Wood and The Vache. Only a year later George Sutthery, from a prominent Chesham farming family, passed the estate to Robert Campbell and his wife Mary. At that time it was described as “One messuage, one cottage, two barns, two stables, one cowhouse, one granary, one garden, two orchards, thirty acres of land, thirty acres of pasture and six acres of wood, with the appurtenances in the parish of Agmondesham otherwise Amersham”.[17] In 1768 Robert Campbell sold it to Richard Woolley and Samuel Stanway. These two owners sold it to Kender Mason, Snr., eight months later. 

The Masons lived at Beale House for three generations and it was during their occupation that the spelling of the name changed to the present day spelling. The family increased their land holdings by buying surrounding farms such as Wilmotts Farm that lay to the south of Beel House; Cokes Farm, Reeves and other Woodside farms such as Abbott’s Farm.[18] The original Kender Mason was domiciled in London, but used the house when visiting his in-laws, the Pomeroys, who lived in Chalfont St Giles, but his son of the same name, was resident full-time and raised his family there. When Kender Mason Snr., died in 1790 the estate was divided between his two sons, although the eldest son already changed his name to Pomeroy, a condition of him inheriting his grandfather’s estates, and was living in Chalfont St Giles. Beel house was occupied by Kender Mason, Jnr. and reconstructed by him in 1800. When the latter died in 1819 his will instructed his executors to sell off all his property and settle the money in a trust for the benefit of all his six children. Kender Mason’s widow had a lifetime interest in Beel House which his son Henry William Mason had purchased from the executors. Henry William Mason brought up his family there, becoming Sheriff for Buckinghamshire, a JP, and Deputy-Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire.

After the death of his third daughter, Horatia, aged 9 months, in 1832, Henry William Mason moved his family to Kent and leased out Beel House. Frederick Schrodier [sic] was living there in 1833 when on 28th May his coachman, William Wallis, was seen riding a horse at high speed around the park and later was seen lying on his face near the stables with a fractured skull. The Coroner concluded that as the deceased was sober and the horse was known to be gentle that it was an accidental death.[19] Mr Schrodier must have left Beel House shortly after this event because the Hon. Russell Barrington, the fifth son of the 5th Viscount Barrington, had moved his sixteen year old bride, Maria Jane Bowes Lyon, into Beel House in time for her to give birth to her first child, a daughter, there in October 1833[20]. They did not stay long as by the time of the birth of their son in December 1834 they were living at Sparsholt House, Berkshire. The Hon. Russell Barrington died at Sparsholt the following March aged 34 and the 18 year old widow, mother of two, had more sorrow two years later when the daughter she had given birth to in Beel House, died. The widow never remarried but returned to manage her inherited estate at Hetton Hall, Durham, and became a philanthropic estate owner. 

When Beel House was being offered for rent, fully-furnished, in September 1834 it was described as a “much-admired residence”. It had a 30 acre paddock with a Right of Shooting over 300 acres and was in the centre of the Old Berkeley Fox Hunt. The mansion had seven principal bedrooms and two dressing rooms, five servants’ apartments, water closet, entrance hall, spacious dining room, well-proportioned drawing room, library, capital kitchen, servants’ hall and domestic offices of every description with excellent wine and beer cellaring. There was also a coachman’s and gardener’s cottage, brewhouse, stabling for eight horses, coach house for two carriages and other outbuildings. In the grounds were a productive orchard and walled garden. The advertisement concluded that it was “a complete residence for a family of distinction”. [21] It is not known if the tenancy was taken up at this time, but in 1836 Henry William Mason sold the Beel House estate to his brother-in-law William Lowndes of Chesham. William Lowndes, was a large land-owner in South Buckinghamshire who lived at The Bury, Chesham. The sale included Cokes Farm and other farm land. Beel House remained in the ownership of the Lowndes family until 1954.[22]

An 1839 Tithe Award shows the occupier to be The Hon. Lady Caroline Cavendish.[23] The Cavendish family had lived two miles away at Latimer House, nr Chesham, since 1615.[24] Lady Caroline was the unmarried eldest daughter of George Augustus Henry Cavendish the 1st Earl of Burlington (1754-1834) and grand-daughter of the 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720-1764). Lord George Cavendish was paying land tax on land at Woodside in 1800 and received part of Amersham Common in the Enclosure Act of 1815. In 1834 Latimer House was gutted by fire and the total rebuilding was not complete until four years later so Beel House was a convenient place to stay whilst this work was carried out. Her brother, Charles Compton Cavendish (1793-1863) was a Liberal MP and was created the 1st Baron Chesham in 1858.[25] Charles Compton Cavendish owned Coleman’s Farm near Latimer and inherited Raans Farm on his father’s death in 1834.[26]

By 1841 John Higham, Esq., was renting Beel House from William Lowndes and he was still there in 1847.[27] No conclusive evidence can be found to identify this man, but it is thought he was a London surgeon/apothecary. In 1850, his brother, Charles Higham, Secretary and Controller-General of the National Dept office died at Beel House in his 78th year. Charles’ wife, Matilda, had died there two years previously. Their daughter, Henrietta, was married to Captain John Francis Lascelles, RN, and living in Coleshill Cottage (now called White Roses), Coleshill, at that time[28].

Kelly’s Directory of 1854 stated that William Rounds was the tenant followed by Rev. Edmund Jones Luce in 1864.[29] In fact the Luce family had already left Beel House by the time this was printed. Rev. Luce had been Amersham Workhouse chaplain and headmaster of the free grammar school in the High Street, Amersham, for twelve years. In 1851 there were 16 pupils at the Grammar School, but the numbers had gradually dwindled until in the 1861 census only the family was in residence. The decline of pupil numbers was attributed to the growing success of a rival educational establishment at Elmodesham House, High Street, Amersham which by 1861 had grown so large it had moved to Amersham Hall, Caversham, Reading, after which pupil numbers at Dr Challoner’s Grammar school slowly improved. However it was too late for Rev. Luce who had been replaced and had moved his wife and five children to “large and commodious” Beel House. All through 1862 Rev. Luce was advertising for pupils to board at Beel House.[30] He offered “select” pupils instruction in Classics and Mathematic “while French is taught in a living language being constantly in use in conversation”. He promised that the pupils would be treated like members of the family in this “Clergyman’s home”. The fee was 60 to 80 guineas per annum according to age and requirements.  By December things were becoming desperate and he placed three adverts in newspapers around Christmas time, whilst continuing to attend interviews around the country for various ecclesiastical vacancies, eventually being appointed as workhouse chaplain and vicar of a new Parish, St Paul’s, in Truro, Cornwall. During his time in Truro he established a working Men’s Club, a training school for woman, a free school with library and reading room, asserted his authority at the Workhouse, was on the board of the trustee savings bank, and headed various organisations like the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Lands, the YMCA and the Temperance Society. After becoming an established community leader in Truro it is a mystery why he would suddenly resign from all his positions in the town and leave the County immediately after officiating at a New Year service on 31st December 1847. His wife and daughters remained in Truro and Rev. Luce lived the rest of his life earning a living from a series of chaplaincies and curacies around the country and describing himself as single on census forms when his wife, who outlived him, described herself as a “wife” even though they were not living together. He died in 1899.

From 1864 there is a forty year gap in the documentation for Beel House. It was still owned by the Lowndes family of Chesham, but that was the year William Lowndes Snr. died and his eldest son of the same name inherited his estates. William Lowndes, Jnr. was a lawyer, who suddenly had to learn the job of managing substantial estates. Beel House might have been left unoccupied at this time and the land farmed by adjoining properties, or there might have been a series of unrecorded short-term tenancies. We can pick up the trail of tenancies at the end of the 19th century.

In 1883 the lease was taken by Dennis Milner, Esq., a London Barrister and JP.  He died in 1888 leaving £23,000 (equivalent to over £2.5m today) to his widow, Mrs Frances Milner, who continued to live at Beel House and became very involved in the local community. There are many newspaper reports of her hosting charitable events and giving out prizes at the Oddfellows and Foresters Fete and flower show at which her gardener, Mr Olney, was a judge. She gave seasonal gifts of coal to the Amersham Common cottagers and from 1890 she hosted, at Beel Park, an annual treat for over 100 children from the National Schools, who after sports and games were given a “plentiful supply ”of bread and butter with tea and cake, “and then came the greatest treat of all” when Mrs Milner presented each child with gifts. In 1890 these were “prints for dresses, pinafores, calico and books for the older girls, whilst the boys had shirting, caps, braces, neckties, handkerchiefs, knives, etc.” and in 1894 the gifts were a “useful present of flannel shirting, calico, or stockings”.[31] She also arranged an outing to Barnum’s Circus at Olympia for all her staff, and similar outings for the Latimer church choir. There was an established Beel House cricket team which held matches in the grounds from at least 1881 and appeared to have triumphed over several local teams.[32] In May 1902 Mrs Milner of Beel House arranged two concerts (afternoon and evening) at “Amersham Common Schools” in aid of their building fund. It was reported that the hall was “tastefully” decorated with ferns, palms and lilies and in the afternoon was attended by Lady Chesham, the Hon J. Cavendish and Hon. Lilah Cavendish, but the later, evening, audience “was not quite so distinguished”.[33] This was one of many events she organised in aid of the Amersham Schools building fund.  She would arrange for magic lantern or puppet shows in the Town Hall and in 1896 she treated 59 children and their teachers to a trip to the London Zoo.[34] In 1904 music-loving Mrs Milner, gave a new set of silver-plated instruments to the Town Band.[35] This is thought to be Chesham Silver Band which no longer exists. She died in 1907. On 20th April that year her executors organized a house sale on the premises to sell the contents of the house. It was a three-day sale with luncheon provided for two shillings per head. As well as Turkish, Wilton, Brussels and Roman carpets, and “handsome” furniture, there were washstands from the bedrooms implying there was no running water upstairs. The outside lots indicated that Mrs. Milner had preferred horse transport to “modern” motorised vehicles. The sale included a brougham, landau, victoria and dog cart as well as a light van [horse-drawn], and a quantity of harness.[36] By July the house had been modernised and in an advert for tenants boasted that it was an 18th Century house in 30 acres with three reception rooms, 14 bedrooms and dressing rooms, and that the Amersham Company’s water is laid on to the house and premises. Immediate possession was available.[37]

By 1909 the lease on Beel House was taken by Abram Arthur Lyle (1880-1931), the eldest grandchild of Abram Lyle the founder of the sugar refinery. He lived there with his wife Elsie and two young children and in July 1909 a daughter, Barbara, was born and christened at St Mary’s Church, Amersham.  Abram Arthur Lyle was a director of the family firm as were his father, five uncles and several cousins. All were shareholders in the company and as the company prospered so did they. In the 1911 census Abram Arthur Lyle and his wife were in the Bath Hotel, Bournemouth, whilst the three children were left at Beel house in the care of two nurses, two housemaids, a footman and a kitchenmaid. A gardener was living in the cottage by the gate. At the beginning of World War I Abram Arthur Lyle, who was known as Arthur, joined the London Regiment and rose from Captain to Major and then became Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the 30th Battalion. His chauffeur, Henry West, also joined but was a casualty on the battlefield.  Colonel Lyle returned from the war to Beel House, injured, and was no longer able to take an active part in the Lyle & Sons business. It was his uncles and cousins who merged the company with Henry Tate and Sons in 1921. Whilst living at Beel House the Lyle added a loggia and a conservatory and Arthur Lyle’s passion for collecting and preserving wooden architectural features led him to install a “staircase and paneling, very well preserved, [which had been] removed from one of the Colleges at Cambridge, it is said Emmanuel, many years ago.”[38] This is the 18th Century staircase described earlier as part of the English Heritage Listing. The Lyle family left Beel House in 1920 and moved to Barrington Court, Somerset, recently seen in the television production of Wolf Hall.[39] Barrington Court had been gifted to the National Trust in 1907, but the Trust had insufficient funds to renovate the dilapidated Tudor building. Colonel Tate made it his mission to restore the building and gardens using his own money and his own collection of architectural woodwork. He was a great traveller and an avid collector of wooden paneling and unique woodwork. Colonel Tate died in 1931 at sea whilst returning from a voyage to West Indies, aged 51, but his magnificent restoration of Barrington Court continues to delight visitors.

Mrs Arthur Hargreaves the widow of a London Barrister was living a Beel House with her two daughters from at least 1924. At that time one daughter was breeding pedigree wire-haired fox terriers at Beel House and in 1930 the other daughter was married from there to a retired Royal Navy Commander. It was during her tenancy that the Amersham Common Fair was held in 1928 at Beel House.[40]

In the same year the Old Berkeley foot beagles held a meet at Beel House.[41] In 1939 Mrs Hargreaves moved to Banbury, Oxfordshire and Beel House was advertised to be let by Frank, Knight and Rutley as a manor house over 300 years old in 36 acres. The tenancy history is unknown after this point.

In 1940 the Amersham Common Fair was held at Beel House with the proceeds going to Lady Chesham’s Free Wool and Comforts Fund together with the Merchant Seamen’s Wool Fund.[42] There is a gap in the history of Beel house from the start of World War II until 1953, although we can make some assumptions about the use of the house from the history of nearby buildings. The entrance of Beel House is on White Lion Road and the western side of the garden had a frontage along Finch Lane. During the war this was still a garden, but in 1964 St Aidan’s Catholic Church was built on this corner. On the other corner of Finch Lane and White Lion Road is the White Lion public house and on the far side of that is Chilcote House. In 1940 this was up for sale and a company called Thorium Ltd bought it to set up a factory manufacturing luminous paint for the dials of aircraft instruments and watches.  It can be conjectured that during the war with an accommodation crisis due to the influx of evacuees from the London and Europe, that Beel House might have been requisitioned for billeting purposes, although no documentary evidence has been found.  

Behind Chilcote House and on the boundary with Beel House was Bendrose Farm most of which has now become G.E. Healthcare which is on the site of the original Thorium Ltd laboratory. In April 1904 187 acres of Bendrose Farm was put up for sale.[43] At the auction the premises were offered as one lot or five separate lots, but failed to sell. After the auction several bidders came forward and one gentleman bought the whole estate in spite of the fact that he only wanted the house and a few acres. He intended to sell off the rest of the land.[44] This purchaser was Edwin Wooster of Chalfont St Giles who raised a mortgage with the Union of London and Smiths Bank Ltd in October and in April 1905 sold Lots 3,7,8, and 14 to Ernest Harrison Forwood for £4000. It consisted of some of the farms that had previously been part of the Beel House Estate. Ernest Harrison Forwood was a shipowner in the City of London. The sale was conditional on only one detached dwelling per acre on resale and no hedges or ditches to be removed. “No manufacture trade or occupation to be carried out that will cause annoyance to the neighbour”.[45] In 1910 Mr Wooster sold Ernest Forwood another 42 acres for £1400 with the same stipulation on resale as stated in 1905. Ernest Forwood lived in Bendrose Grange and two of his sons, Philip and Langton, lived in other houses on the Estate. In 1940 around the time of Ernest’s 90th birthday his grandson, known as Tony, was staying with him whilst on leave from the Royal Artillery. One Saturday evening Tony, an actor before the war, had gone into Amersham to see a film, but the cinema was full so he went into the Playhouse to see the last two acts of Grief Goes Over. He was impressed with the nineteen-year-old actor, Dirk Bogarde, and as a semi-official scout for H.M. Tennant asked to meet him. Later he took him back to Bendrose to meet his Grandfather.[46] This meeting of Tony and Dirk was not repeated for another six years, but would eventually lead to another phase in the history of Beel House.

In March 1953 Mr W.F.L.F. Lowndes, J.P., whose family had owned Beel House for 118 years put the contents up for sale. As well as furniture which included a four-poster bed, there was china, glass, plate, books and oil paintings. Outside there were benches, posts and “pig appliances”.[47] After an unsuccessful attempt to build a housing estate on the site William Lowndes decided to sell the dilapidated site.[48]

Dirk Bogarde and the French Japanese actress, Yôko Tani, his co-star in the 1958 film The Wind Cannot Read, courtesy of Amersham Museum
Dirk Bogarde and the French Japanese actress, Yôko Tani, his co-star in the 1958 film The Wind Cannot Read, courtesy of Amersham Museum

In January 1954, Dirk Bogarde who was renting a cottage on the Bendrose estate, saw that Beel House was for sale. He and Kay Kendall, the actress, “walked across muddy fields from my rented home to look at Beel House. It was a horror. Bleak and empty, few of its twenty-six rooms caught the sun, and the garden surrounding it was a tangle of overgrown rosebeds.  Inside it seemed a labyrinth of corridors and stone passages. It was painted throughout in dejected yellow and brown and each room had a rusty gas fire in it.”[49] In spite of this he bought it for £4000 and started the restoration by pulling down a wing of 11 rooms and building a swimming pool. In 1958 he raised strong objections at a public enquiry into the plan to build a school on land that had once been part of the Beel House estate which was 200 yards from his house. He had already built a large earth mound covered with grass and trees which the public inquiry called “the Bogarde Bastion” to shield the house from the sight of the school. By 1960 the plans for the building of the school were approved. It was around this time that Dirk Bogarde sold Beel House  to Basil Dearden, the film director.

When Basil Dearden put the house up for sale in 1966 the Times described Beel House as originally a fifteenth-century building to which additions were made in Regency times. It had four main reception rooms and five bedrooms with a playroom, sun room, laundry room and two staff bedrooms. The grounds of 12 acres included lawns and paddocks and two cedar trees reputed to be some 500 years old. The asking price was £60,000.[50]

In more recent years the owners of Beel House have been Bryn Williams, Robert Kilroy-Silk, MP, and the singer Ozzy Osbourne.[51] In June 1991 the property was again on sale. It was advertised as having three reception rooms and seven main bedrooms with an asking price of £1.75m. Ozzy Osbourne had put the house up for sale after he had been arrested for the attempted murder of his wife whilst living at Beel House. After taking a cocktail of drugs and drinking heavily during a family meal at the Chinese restaurant at Nightingales Corner he attacked his wife and was subsequently arrested. He had no memory of the attack but the conditions of his bail were that he entered a rehab centre, did not contact his wife and did not return to Beel House. [52] In 2014 Robert Kilroy-Silk sold the house to an international buyer who never actually moved in and who remarketed the property for £6.5m in November 2015.[53]

In January 2017 Beel House was empty and on the market for just under £5m. It is hoped that the new owners will have an appreciation of the historical significance of this building. More research will be needed to establish whether it is indeed derived from a fifteenth century building, but what we already know gives us a fascinating glimpse into the past. Beel House’s long and interesting architectural history is masked by the many alterations made over the years, but some parts of the original fabric of the buildings still show its heritage. The history is not just in the physical building, but in the families who have lived there and made their mark in society.

[1] Beel House. English Heritage Building ID 416304.

[2] Churchill, Penny, Houses owned by well-known faces, Countrylife Magazine, Nov 2015.

[3] Pike, L. Elgar and Birch, Clive The Book of Amersham, (Chesham, 1976).

[4] Penington, Mary. Experiences in the Life of Mary Penington, (London, 1911) p. 56

[5] Penington, Mary. Experiences in the Life of Mary Penington, (London, 1911) p. 58

[6] Summers, W.H. Memories of Jordans and the Chalfonts, (London, 1895) p.122; and Webb, Maria, The Penns and Peningtons of the Seventeenth Century, (London, 1867)

[7] Collins, Rev. G.A. The Home of the Peningtons – ‘Woodside Farm’, Amersham or ‘Beel House’, Amersham?, Reference section, Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury.

[8] Penington, Mary. Experiences in the Life of Mary Penington, (London, 1911) p. 57

[9] Penington, Mary. Experiences in the Life of Mary Penington, (London, 1911) p. 111

[10] Withington, Lothrop. Pennsylvania Gleanings in England: The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 28, No. 4 (1904), pp. 456-469

[11] Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies CH/A/13

[12] Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies. D/CH/A/13

[13] Sun Insurance 27152 12 Dec 1722.

[14] Hunt, Julian, Amersham Fire Insurance.  accessed 9/3/2017

[15] Collins, Rev. G.A. The Home of the Peningtons – ‘Woodside Farm’, Amersham or ‘Beel House’, Amersham?, Reference section, Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury.

[16] Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies.  Fine. Easter. 21 GEO 2., Fine. Hilary. 3 Geo.3.(1763)

[17] Collins, Rev. G.A. The Home of the Peningtons – ‘Woodside Farm’, Amersham or ‘Beel House’, Amersham?, Reference section, Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury.

[18] Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies. BRO.Deeds.CH/A/41.

[19] Bucks Herald – Saturday 08 June 1833

[20] Document seen and photographed on ebay in May 2008.

[21] London Courier and Evening Gazette – Tuesday 02 September 1834

[22] Collins, Rev. G.A. The Home of the Peningtons – ‘Woodside Farm’, Amersham or ‘Beel House’, Amersham?, Reference section, Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury.

[23] extract from Julian Hunt’s notes

[24] British History Online :

[25] The Peerage. accessed 17/3/2017.

[26] Julian Hunt notes.

[27] 1847 Post Office Directory

[28] White Roses :

[29] Kellys Directories 1854, 1864.

[30] South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe and Maidenhead Journal – Friday 17 October 1862

[31] Bucks Herald – Saturday 16 August 1890; South Bucks Standard – Friday 17 August 1894

[32] Bucks Herald – Saturday 24 September 1881

[33] Bucks Herald Saturday May 3 1902

[34] Bucks Herald – Saturday 23 May 1896

[35] Supplement to the Bucks Herald 17 September 1904

[36] Bucks Herald 20 April 1907

[37] “Houses, Land, etc., To Be Let” Times [London, England] 13 July 1907: 3. The Times Digital Archive. accessed 7 Apr. 2017.

[38] “Rod And Gun.” Times [London, England] 27 Jan. 1938: 22. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 Apr. 2017 and Country Life Magazine. : accessed 28/4/2017

[39] The National Trust.

[40] Bucks Herald  Friday 13 July 1928

[41] Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 11 February 1928

[42] Bucks Herald – Friday 28 June 1940

[43] Bucks Herald, Saturday, April 23 1904 p.4

[44] Bucks Herald, Saturday, July 16 1904 p.5

[45] Bendrose Farm documents. Amersham Museum Archive.,

[46] Coldstream, John, Dirk Bogarde: The authorised biography, (London, 2004)

[47] “Bernard Thorpe & Partners.” Times [London, England] 10 Mar. 1953: 14. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 Apr. 2017.

[48] White, Ivor. A History of Little Chalfont, (Little Chalfont, 1993), p.20

[49] Woman magazine, 11 March, 1961.

[50] Our Estates Correspondent. “When Large Windows Are An Advantage.” Times [London, England] 10 Jan. 1966: 13. The Times Digital Archive. accessed 7 Apr. 2017.

[51] White, Ivor. A History of Little Chalfont, (Little Chalfont, 1993)

[52] “‘I was a beast. Absolutely terrifying’.” Times [London, England] 19 Sept. 2009: [1][S]+. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 Apr. 2017.

[53] Country Life Magazine. : accessed 28/4/2017

Plan Your Visit

Opening hours:

Wednesday to Sunday, and Bank Holiday Mondays, 12noon to 4:30pm

49 High Street
Old Amersham

01494 723700
[email protected]


“Enjoyed our visit to this wonderful interactive museum where you are positively encouraged to touch things!”

“Visited Amersham museum yesterday – lovely place, provides many details on the history of the place. Plenty of cute cafes, pubs and shops around also… not difficult to find free parking nearby. ”

“A well-run, informative and interesting small museum on the main street. It’s mostly volunteer-run and they do a great job in keeping it and making you feel welcome…Check out the herb garden too.”

“Enjoyable film and television location guided walk around Amersham hosted by Amersham Museum – here are the Sun Houses on Highover Park and further up the hill is High & Over.”

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