Amersham

Street MapOur Photos

Amersham is a market town and civil parish within Chiltern district in Buckinghamshire, England, 27 miles north west of London, in the Chiltern Hills. It is part of the London commuter belt.

Amersham is split into two distinct areas: Old Amersham, set in the valley of the River Misbourne, which contains the 13th century parish church of St. Mary’s and several old pubs and coaching inns; and Amersham-on-the-Hill, which grew rapidly around the railway station in the early part of the 20th century.

Records date back to pre-Anglo-Saxon times, when it was known as Egmondesham, and by the time that the Domesday Book was written around 1086 it had become known as Elmodesham. The Domesday entry is as follows:

Geoffrey de Mandeville holds Amersham. It answers for 7½ hides. Land for 16 ploughs; in lordship 2 hides; 3 ploughs there. 14 villagers with 4 smallholders have 9 ploughs; a further 4 possible. 7 slaves; meadow for 16 ploughs; woodland 400 pigs. The total value is and was £9; before 1066 £16. Queen Edith held this manor.

Queen Edith was the wife of Edward the Confessor and sister of king Harold, and after her death in 1075 the land passed to William the Conqueror who granted it to Geoffrey de Mandeville.

In 1200 Geoffrey, Earl of Essex obtained a charter for Amersham allowing him to hold a Friday market and a fair on 7 and 8 September. In 1613 a new charter was granted to Edward, Earl of Bedford, changing the market day to Tuesday and establishing a statute fair on 19 September.

In 1521 seven Lollard dissenters (William Tylsworth, John Scrivener, Thomas Barnard, James Morden, Robert Rave, Thomas Holmes and Joan Norman) were burned at the stake in Amersham.  A memorial to them was built in 1931 and is inscribed as follows: “In the shallow of depression at a spot 100 yards left of this monument seven Protestants, six men and one woman were burned to death at the stake. They died for the principles of religious liberty,for the right to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures and to worship God according to their consciences as revealed through God’s Holy Word”. The Universal Magazine of September 1749 (p139) quotes that ‘William Tylesworth’ was in fact burnt in 1506, and that Thomas Bernard and James Morden, a labourer, were burnt about two years later.

The area of the town now known as Amersham on the Hill was referred to as Amersham Common until after the arrival of the Metropolitan Line in 1892. After this date growth of the new area of the town gradually accelerated, with much work being done by the architect John Kennard). It is now known locally as “Top Amersham”,”the Top Town” or “the New Town”.

In 1931, the architect Amyas Connell completed the Grade II listed art deco house, “High and Over” in Amersham. It has been used as a film location.

Amersham sent two MPs to the unreformed House of Commons from 1625, and was considered a rotten borough until the Reform Act 1832 stripped it of its representation. The town was then part of the county constituency of Buckinghamshire. From 1885 it was in the Aylesbury constituency, in 1950 it formed part of the South Buckinghamshire seat and in 1974 the current Chesham and Amersham constituency was created.

At local level,Amersham is represented by its own town council. It is a civil parish within Chiltern district. It comprises the following district council wards: Amersham Town; Amersham Common; Amersham-on-the-Hill; Chesham Bois and Weedon Hill. Amersham is represented by two members elected for the Amersham division on Buckinghamshire County Council.

Old Amersham is situated on the valley floor of the River Misbourne. This is a chalk stream which dries up periodically. The river occupies a valley much larger than it is possible for a river the size of the present River Misbourne to cut, making it a misfit stream. The valley floor is at around 100m OD, while the valley top is at around 165m OD. It is likely that the valley was formed under conditions akin to those required to form a dry valley. Amersham on the Hill is built on the north side of the Misbourne valley, on a small plateau that forms the watershed between the Misbourne and the neighbouring River Chess.

Amersham is linked to London by the Metropolitan Line of London Underground and is the last station on the Metropolitan main line. Much of this line is shared with the mainline railway service, which runs from Marylebone to Aylesbury. The town features in the 1973 John Betjeman (1906–1984) documentary Metro-land about the growth of suburban London in the 20th century. The construction of the railway line was controversial at the time and objections from local landowners prevented its construction until 1892. The station was built a mile to the north of the old market town and has provided the focus of Amersham on the Hill ever since. Chiltern Railways share the railway track with London Underground and run services from Marylebone to Aylesbury Vale Parkway that pass through Amersham every day.

In March 2010, the Government announced the preferred route of the proposed High Speed Railway, HS2, non-stop from London to Birmingham. A campaign of opposition to the impact on the town and the surrounding area of the preferred route is being locally co-ordinated by a protest group, Amersham Action Group, which along with other protest groups is part of the HS2 Action Alliance. The route was confirmed by the new government in January 2012.

The town is located at the junction of the A355 road from Slough and Beaconsfield, the A404 road that links Maidenhead, High Wycombe and Harrow, the A416 road from Chesham and Berkhamsted and the A413 road, which runs from Aylesbury to Uxbridge.

Early trade at Amersham Market was in local grain, much of which was sold to London merchants. During the 17th century and 18th century a key industry in the town was brewing. After a number of changes of hands during this time William Weller of High Wycombe purchased the brewery in 1775. He, and his heirs, expanded the business by buying a number of local public houses during the next 150 years. In 1929 Gerrard Weller sold the brewery and 133 tied public houses to Benskins of Watford for £360,000, a move that led to the end of brewing in Amersham. In addition to brewing, tanning, lace manufacture and brickmaking all had a prominent place in the manufacturing past of the town. During World War II, the Radiochemical Centre, a scientific research establishment, arrived in the town. This became Amersham International, then Amersham plc, and now, after a number of changes of ownership and name, is part of GE Healthcare.

Amersham on the Hill has a Free church which is United Reformed and Baptist, the Methodist church St. John’s and the Church of England St Michael & All Angels. Old Amersham includes the Church of England St Mary’s Church (a Grade I listed building since December 1958), the exterior is Victorian but it includes 17th century glass from Lamer Manor in Hertfordshire and monuments in the chancel to 17th and 18th century notables. Also in the town there is also a Quaker meeting house, a Methodist church and The King’s Church, a Baptist church. There was also an Exclusive Brethren Meeting House.

Amersham is twinned wtih Bensheim, Germany; Krynica-Zdrój, Poland.

The town has been used in a number of films, including:

  • The Duke Wore Jeans (1958)
  • Carve Her Name with Pride (1958)
  • Circus of Horrors (1960)
  • Murder at the Gallop (1963)
  • The Jigsaw Man (1983)
  • The Shooting Party (1985)
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) – Featured one of the suites in The Crown hotel
  • Metroland (1997)

Television programmes filmed in the town include:

  • Metro-land (TV) (1973)
  • Midsomer Murders (seven episodes)
  • The Peter Principle (1990s)
  • Chucklevision one episode

Books featuring the town include:

  • George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four (briefly)
  • Douglas Adams & John Lloyd The Meaning of Liff (briefly, as Definition)(1984)
  • Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman “Good Omens” (briefly – Pratchett grew up in nearby Beaconsfield).

No reviews yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.