The history of Woodrow High House, Buckinghamshire

Located in the Chilterns, Woodrow High House is steeped in history dating back to the 1600s. The Grade II listed manor house was likely built mid-17th century, with notable residents including the Tyrwhitt-Drake family, and wife and daughters of Oliver Cromwell. We understand that at one point in its history, around the time of the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685, the Lady Helena Stanhope lived in the house. Her fiancé, Sir Peter Bostock, was fleeing from authorities and she kept him hidden in an old grotto in the grounds, feeding and tending to him daily. He was eventually discovered and killed in the grotto, and it soon followed that Lady Helena committed suicide, possibly by taking poison, in the main house that same day. It is said that her ghost, The Green Lady of Woodrow, occasionally visits the house…

At the turn of the 20th century, the house was used as an ammunition depot during WW1, and during WW2 evacuated children from Portsmouth were housed at Woodrow. London Youth has owned and operated Woodrow since 1945. The site was gifted to London Youth, then known as the Federation of Boys Clubs, by the Worshipful Goldsmiths Guild, opening its doors in 1946 to youth groups as part of their mission to support young people during the war. The mission of the charity has remained the same since, ensuring children and young people have opportunities to grow in confidence, develop leadership skills, build resilience, and create positive relationships with their peers.

The 26-acre facility has evolved into a 120-bed residential centre for visiting schools and youth groups all year round; as well as providing a purpose-built leisure centre with a swimming pool hired by local adult community groups and used by Woodrow Swim School. Facilities include a large campsite area, multi-purpose sports hall, 3G floodlit astro turf pitch and off-road mountain bike cycle circuit. We provide opportunities for outdoor learning and sports activities, working directly to support and challenge young people to be the best they can be.

HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh has been Patron of London Youth since 1947, and it’s no secret that Woodrow High House has been one of his favourite centres. HRH has visited three times, including to open Woodrow Leisure Centre in 1998. The first ever Duke of Edinburgh Awards test expedition also set out from the centre in 1957 – make sure you check out the photo in the house when you visit.