Oxhey Grange, Oxhey Lane, Watford.
By Virginia Barber
These are the memories of Elsie Wilson (nee Baker). Elsie gave me the book for safe keeping as she knew I was interested in the history of the area around Watford Heath.
She complied a record of her memories of Oxhey Grange where her Father, Nelson Baker, was Cowman and Keeper of the boilers. This includes photos.
He and his family later ran the shop and tea room on Watford Heath.
James Doyle Penrose and his wife Elizabeth (Lady Peckover) bought the estate from the Eleys.
They were active Quakers who were instrumental in building up a Friends’ Meeting and Adult Schoool in Watford and he was happy to loan them a field at Oxhey Grange for a cricket club. At one time J.D.P. was a deputy Lieutenant for Cambridgeshire and for years a magistrate for the counties of Cambridge and Herts.
J. D. Penrose was an artist and made his art an expression of that deep sense of the all-pervading presence and love of God. His many pictures include “Iduna and the Apples of Youth” “Christian at the Cross” etc, etc. The climax of his work was reached in two Quaker subjects “The Presence in the Midst” and “None shall make the Afraid” (otherwise known as “Fierce Feathers) The latter tells the story of a little Quaker Community in New York State in 1775, quietly sitting in worship despite the intrusion of threatening Indians. ( Elsie has included a leaflet by L. V. Hodgkin in her book telling how it came to be painted. )
J.D.P. was a kindly gentleman with strong convictions about temperance and pacifism.
Elsie was a model for the child in the picture ”The Presence in the Midst”
’I well remember running along the rose walk always afraid of meeting the Head Gardener!! I arrived at Oxhey Grange and was met by a maid who helped me change into a long plain grey dress and white cotton bonnet. I was then ready to sit as the artist’s model of a young Quaker girl in a Meeting house sitting next to an adult in her typical Quaker dress. I sat very still and once fell asleep. During a break a maid brought in a tray holding a glass of milk and two biscuits. I felt very important as the maid helped me on with my coat. I hurried along the rose walk, through the chicken run as fast as my five year old legs could carry me, to my own home.’