An historic home hidden from view
DONALD STANLEY takes a look a Buckinghamshire’s heritage with the life and times of Amersham’s Woodrow High House
ONE of Buckinghamshire’s great mansions, Woodrow High House, is situated out of general sight near Amersham.
Originally named Woodside House it was built in the 17th century since when it has undergone many changes both in appearance and ownership.
Amongst its earliest occupants were Oliver Cromwell’s wife and three daughters for whom, being in a strongly Parliamentary area, it provided a safe home during the English Civil War.
As wife of the Lord Protector she was known as the Lady Protectoress but kept a low profile during the Protectorate which may have saved her life following the Restoration and desecration of her husband’s remains.
In more recent times, one of the custodians was woken by a lady whom he assumed had arrived late. She did not appear at breakfast next morning but from a portrait in the hall he recognised her as ‘The Green Lady’.
She is believed to have been Lady Helena Stanhope who committed suicide after her fiancé, Sir Peter Bostock whom she was sheltering after the Duke of Monmouth had been defeated in the Battle of Sedgemoor, was caught and executed 260 years previously. Originally the portraits of Lady Helena and Sir Peter had been hung side by side but during building works that of Sir Peter was removed to the cellar. The following morning Lady Helena’s portrait was found face down above where his had been stored; thereafter the two were rehung side by side.
In the mid-1700s the Tyrwhitt Drake family lived in Woodrow High House whilst Shardeloes was being built high above the Misbourne Valley for Sir William Drake who, like his father before him and later members of his family, sat in Parliament for Amersham. Sir William also built Amersham’s market-hall.
In 1945 the mansion was acquired by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, one of the twelve great Livery Companies of the City of London, which donated it to the Federation of London Youth Clubs, usually abbreviated to ‘London Youth, as a residential training centre.
The clubs originated in the 1880s when they were founded by Victorian philanthropists to wean boys and girls away from life on city streets and introduce them, according to the Phychological Scientist Dr Terry Powler, to the values and mores of the upper classes, especially those of public schools and the universities. Their aim was to consign class to oblivion
Historic: Woodrow High House which was once home to Sir William Drake who also built Amersham’s Market Hall
rather than mix them.