Davenies School

Davenies: Portals to the Past

Miss Graham, our resident expert when it comes to all things Davenies past, has been delving into the Archives to share with us a series of glimpses into Davenies’ engaging history…

While many of us do not have much information about the history of our own house or its previous occupants, this is, fortunately, not the case with Davenies. It is possible to tell the story of the farm, the house and the School, to see pictures of what they used to look like and to imagine what it felt like to be a person there in bygone years. With the publication of the 1921 Census earlier this month, we have been lucky enough to gain a glimpse into Davenies as it was in the Tantalising Twenties!

Instantly recognisable is the ornate hallway of Davenies and, in one mind’s eye, you can picture the Misses Roberts enjoying their beautiful house in 1921.

In 1911, the house – known at the time as Davenies Barn – was home to its architect, Stanley Hamp. He was responsible for its stylish fixtures and fittings that we still enjoy today.

He moved out sometime between 1911 and 1921.

Who had been living here just two years before when, on Victory Night, 19 July, 1919, a huge bonfire was lit in Davenies field to celebrate the end of the war? It could well have been the Misses Roberts and their three servants.

People had suffered many hardships, as we all know. The 1921 Census tells us that Ellen and Florence Roberts were aged 69 and 56 respectively. Perhaps they had lost a brother or their father in the Great War. In the town of Beaconsfield, the War Memorial was unveiled in May 1921. It was on the site of the modern roundabout and was moved to its current site in 1934, because of the increase in traffic. Did Ellen and Florence own a car? Did they have a chauffeur? The main road would certainly have been much, much quieter. The three female servants are named in the School’s Census page; Ellen, Zillah and Molly, the cook, parlour maid and housemaid. They would certainly have had a lot of work to do!

At some point in the 20s, ownership of Davenies Barn changed again and Keith Sinclair Mills is named in the 1925 Beaconsfield Directory. What did the residents see when they looked out of their windows? The landscape was still one of fields on the east side of Station Road. Ellen and Florence would certainly have enjoyed their gardens to the front and back.

The 1921 Census offers us a tantalising glimpse into their world, even more precious when one appreciates that most of the 1931 Census was destroyed and there was no census taken in 1941… and by that time, Davenies was our school!

Miss Graham, Head of Latin


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