In 1969 Lane End Conference Centre, then known as HTS Management Training Centre, opened its doors for the first time. The purpose-built conference venue was one of the first of its kind. The objective was to offer dedicated meeting facilities conducive to learning and development with the highest standard of equipment, catering and above all dedicated training rooms.

It is built on a 26 acre estate which enjoys a colourful history dating back to 1864. In that year a civil servant named Charles Forjett purchased the land after his retirement from the Bombay Police. He then designed and had built a property which he named “Cowasjee Jehangir Hall” after the well-known Parsi philanthropist, who gave generously to educational and charitable institutions in Western India. The original building was designed with a strong influence from Indian architecture to serve as homage to the country where Forjett grew up and contributed so much to public safety.

Forjett, who was appointed Superintendent of Police in 1855, was of Anglo-Indian parentage and was brought up in India. Some records state that he was partly of French descent and that his black hair and sallow complexion enabled him to mix with the Indian natives and pass as one of them. In this way he managed to get in close touch with the men who were acting as go-betweens and receivers of bribes. Through these men he contrived to test the integrity of individual members of the force, consequently bringing down a whole system of corruption in the local Government. Forjett also did much to improve public safety. He was well respected in Police and native circles, and it was said that he was the first efficient chief that the Bombay Police ever had.

Forjett died in London on January 27 1890. The property was then re-named as Wycombe Court. For the next forty years or so it was owned or occupied by a succession of wealthy people.

These included Mr H W Cripps, QC, the grandfather of the Labour politician Sir Stafford Cripps, who was known to be in occupation in September 1891 when he gave permission for a fete to be held in the grounds. The publicity stated that “a Variety of Sports will be provided”. These included a cricket match, when the prize for the winner was a cricket ball !

In January 1892 it was reported that “Captain Dyke-Acland, RN, has taken Wycombe Court, Bucks, for a term of years”, the word “taken” indicating that he was renting the estate.

In June 1895 it was “offered for sale at the London Auction Mart”, but then “withdrawn at £5,000, the auctioneer stating that he believed that close on £20,000 had been spent upon it”. The property continued to be used by the local community, including in August 1895 “a capital show which included an exhibition of needlework, lace etc” but “the proceedings of the day were marred by rain”!

Eventually it seems to have been purchased by a Mr Smithers, who in March 1908 sold it to Mr Henry Worthington. He was “well-known in hunting circles and may be expected to take an interest in local Hunts”. Although he was living in Uffculme, Devon when he died in March 1924, he still owned Wycombe Court, leaving it in his will to his wife for her use for life.

However it was soon on the market, being offered for auction in September 1924 at the St James Estate rooms in London. It was described as a “singularly choice freehold property in a glorious position, 550 ft up, with lovely views”. It had “central heating, electric light, a passenger lift, and good drainage; a garage, stabling , lodge and two cottages, beautiful gardens and parkland, in all over 61 acres”.

It was purchased by Katherine Emma Adams for £10,000, “£2,000 of which she raised, and the remainder was left on mortgage”. She “took Wycombe Court with the object of running a dairy business there and also making it a holiday resort for visitors from the North”. However she had to file for Bankruptcy in April 1926, resulting in Wycombe Court coming back onto the market. It was then purchased by The Garden School of Gt Missenden, who moved to their new home “of much larger premises” in December 1927.

The Garden School, which then took the name of Wycombe Court Garden School, were to occupy the estate for nearly 40 years. This was a boarding and day school for girls, one of its most famous pupils being the film star Julie Christie.

The school educated hundreds of girls over the years, until its closure in 1965. Once again the estate came up for auction, when it was advertised as having 3 very large reception rooms, reception hall, 4 cloakrooms, 8 bathrooms, 27 bedrooms, and extensive and adaptable offices. But it was difficult to sell, and at one auction in early 1968 had to be withdrawn when the bidding stopped at £23,500 – below the reserve price.

Wycombe District Council were becoming concerned at the way the property was deteriorating and rumours were abounding about its fate. One was even that it was to be used as a nudist camp!

Local villagers were concerned when they saw the building going up in flames in February 1969. However this was part of a controlled demolition process after the estate had been acquired by Hotel and Transport Services Ltd for their new Management Training Centre.

The owner and founder of HTS, Professor William Barry, purchased the estate in 1968 and opened the UK’s first purpose-built conference centre in November 1969.

Known as HTS Centre for Management Studies, the venue originally comprised of two residential buildings – Wycombe Hall and Wycombe Court – which were built where Cowasjee Jehangir Hall once stood. In 1970 the venue was selected to host some of the world’s largest blue-chip companies for their management training courses. These included Mckinsey & Company and the Bank of America.

In 1976 a charitable organisation, the William Barry Trust, was set up by Professor Barry to support education through giving financial assistance to students. Following the passing of Professor Barry in 2012, the Trust took ownership of the conference and training centre.

Following the success of the 1970’s and with growing demand from organisations across the world the venue expanded and opened a third residential building in 1979, known as Wycombe Lodge. In the 1980’s the owners invested in various amenities including a 9-hole golf course and a sport complex complete with squash courts and a swimming pool.

Always at the forefront of technological innovation, Lane End Conference Centre was the first commercial conference centre to install specialised giant projectors in its training rooms during the early 1990’s. In 1995 the centre acquired dial up internet access.

Today it has 32 meeting rooms and over 100 en-suite bedrooms, with superfast 200Mbps fibre optic broadband and state of the art 5000 lumens projectors in all the conference rooms.

The Centre attracts repeat business from 72 per cent of its customer base. It holds a number of prestigious accreditations including AIM - which recognises quality in venues and service - and the Healthcare accreditation from Compliant Venues.

Local businesses are welcomed to use the facilities, and preferential rates can be offered for day-meetings and accommodation. The beer tent at the annual village fete is sponsored by the Centre, with the proceeds going to the parish church and village hall.

Having completed 50 years in Lane End the HTS Centre for Management Studies looks forward confidently to the next 50 years occupying the estate originally developed by Charles Forjett.