Four Hundred Year of Oxhey Place

Houses and People

By John F Akam

Four Hundred Years of Oxhey Place, Houses and People
John F Akam

A new illustrated book on Oxhey was published in 2011.

The story of Blackwell’s Oxhey Place near Watford Hertfordshire, this was formally known as Sinklees and now South Oxhey. The book is written by John F Akam, son and grand son of staff at Oxhey place, with five pages taken from an unpublished Biography by Michael Strachan.

The book goes back to before the time of Sir James Altham, he was the first person to build a mansion house at Sinklees and about the same time he built the chapel. Not everyone who purchased this private estate or manor wanted it for their home; and over the centuries a lot of asset stripping was done. Sir John Bucknall in 1690 after completing his large square house in the style of ‘Syon Park’, re named Sinklees to Oxhey Place. It’s a good read, but I am biased, if you wish to delve into history before South Oxhey was built, you will probably find it informative.


It seems incredulous that one finishes a book to be invited to a funeral of one of the people in the book. I refer to the death of Mrs Pamela C Fairbrother (Judd) 1927-2011, who was one of the four remaining people alive who lived at Oxhey Place, her father was head gardener and is buried with his wife outside Oxhey Chapel. The Service of thanksgiving was Monday 14th February 2011 at a very quiet Crematorium in Bournemouth. A large gathering of the ever expanding Judd family attended, I was honoured to join them, and now immortalised in their photos.

Little Inaccuracies

Always after a book printing has taken place, one finds little inaccuracies, some are shall we say foreign words, however page 78 is just incorrect relating to the photographer attribution. I knew there was a concerted effort for Pamela and Laurie Fairbrother, to visit Mrs Betty Blackwell at her home in Foxham Wiltshire, I have since learnt that the late Frank Judd, brother to Pamela and Melva his wife were also in the party, this was sometime before Betty Blackwell’s death, in the year 2000. The visit also included Arthur (Wag) Bowerman, who many of you knew and loved, he was at the time ‘Oxhey Chapel’s Custodian’. At this visit to Foxham and possibly Oxhey Chapel at another time, several photographs were taken by Frank Judd. I am indebted to Melva and Dominic Judd nephew to Pamela, in helping me to make this correction. So you see, although I had permission to use the photos from Pam and Laurie Fairbrother, I was not advised who was the photographer. Therefore one must not assume anything when putting it down in writing.  


A small number of copies are available by collection from South Oxhey Library at £7.00 each, or for the UK direct from the author signed, for £9.24 this includes postage & packing. To order from other parts of the World please send your email to or write to ‘Dream Solutions, 10, Apple Tree Road, Alderholt, Fordingbridge, Hampshire, SP6 3EW, UK’. Please make any cheques payable in Sterling to ‘John F Akam’ direct money transfer is available.  

I wish to thank Three Rivers District Council, and the South Oxhey Library including the team of editors of ‘Our Oxhey web site’ for their help in this promotion.

This page was added on 01/06/2011.

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  • There is a photo of Wag Bowerman in the Oxhey Chapel on the south wall below the window. I found it in the vestry and felt that as he did so much for the Oxhey Chapel he should be remembered on display in the chapel. The chapel is usually open when All Saints have a Table Top sale.

    By Nigel Lee (31/10/2023)
  • Hi

    Does anyone have any pictures of Wag – Charles Bowerman.

    He has family ties and i would like to see what he looked like.

    By Luke White (24/04/2023)
  • “Obituary
    It seems incredulous…”

    You mean “incredible”.

    By Peter Dron (10/09/2020)
  • In response to Felicia Millers enqiry in relation to the Heavens family, ive carried out some research and discovered that in 1939 the family lived at 4 Oxhey Wood Cottages in Oxhey where Mr Heavens worked on the nearby farm at Oxhey Place. This would have been a tied cottage and is still standing, in Gosforth Lane. Mr Heavens full name was Angel Arthur Heavens. He was born in 1894 and served throughout world war 1 in the Royal Berkshire regiment. He died in 1957 in Tonbridge Kent so this may be where the family moved out to. Arthur died in 2012. They were actually neighbours of the Akam family.

    By Neil Hamilton (12/10/2018)
  • I am most interested in purchasing a copy of this book I was born in 1937 and spent many summers at a very early age with my mother on a farm in Oxhey with a family by the name of Heavens I remember they had two sons Arthur and Cyril a daughter Dinah . and I remember playing in the woods at the back of the farm house Hay making and my mother helping on the farm I have never been able to trace where they went after the LCC took over for the building work.

    By Felicia Miller (25/08/2018)
  • I was pleased to be sent a signed copy of this worthy publication by John F Akam last October. I suppose I’m just old enough to remember Oxhey Place in the period from March 1953 until its untimely demise and destruction in the summer of 1960, during which time it functioned as a medical centre for the Estate. John Akam’s text is beautifully presented and is excellent value at only £9.24 per copy, including postage. It surely represents a valuable addition to the social history of the area before the post-war developments took place, which are soon to be recorded in David Reidy’s forthcoming book on South Oxhey.

    By John Swain (29/08/2011)
  • A real treasure trove of information on the history of Oxhey Place.Thanks John.

    By Sue Green (28/07/2011)
  • A really great book, especially for anyone interested in the history of the area. And especially for those who lived on the estate in the early years and remember ‘The Big House’. Well done John and Thankyou!

    By Susan Waller (21/07/2011)