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Around the Town
The High Street
Amersham High Street Past
Amersham High Street Present
Wide, curving slightly and graced with an astonishing variety of architectural styles, Amersham High Street is one of the most visually satisfying in the country. Near the Market Hall, which successfully blocks it at its eastern end, is The Gables, an unusual house of about 1640 and opposite, set back from the road, is Apsley House, a handsome residence of the time of William and Mary. On the same side the heavily timbered frontage of the King’s Arms gives some indication of what the High Street may have looked like in the 17th century, though in later years many of the half-timbered frontages, including that of the King’s Arms have once more been revealed, but many other such frontages probably still hide behind their present prim facades.On the northern side, set back from the High Street is the Amersham Museum, which is well worth a visit if one wishes to obtain a good feel for the long history of the town and its inhabitants.
Up an alley from the King’s Arms is the delightful Baptist Chapel of 1783, beautifully kept and cared for, with its fascinating lantern on top and a British School of 1852 added to it at the rear. Further along is another Drake gift to the town, the gabled almshouses of 1657, built on three sides of a little courtyard and separated from the outside world by a wall and tall wrought-iron gate. On the other side of the road is a curiosity in the Wee House - a 17th century building with its original frontage and said to be one of the tiniest houses in England. It has since been modernised internally and extended to the rear.
The High Street ends with the massive wall of Little Shardeloes on the left, and on the right, the handsome Town Mill. On this side of the High Street is the attractive row of cottages called Turpin’s Row, not because of any association with the highwayman, but unromantically taking their name from that of the builder. At Town Mill a bridge over the Misbourne leads to Mill Lane, but a path turns immediately right and follows theMisbourne along the backs of the houses in the High Street. The path cuts across the beautifully sited Barn Meadow with the odd-looking Georgian Gothic buildings of the brewery maltings in the corner, and reaches Church Street again at the bottom of Rectory Hill.
A rather longer exploration can be made from the western end of the High Street by turning left up Cherry Lane just past the bow-fronted Swan Inn. A few yards up the lane a footpath crosses it at a stile and gate and continues left passing the gardens on the south side of the High Street on rising ground, giving wonderful views across the red rooftops of the town to the Rectory on its hillside site and the adjoining woods. The path eventually widens into a gravel lane known as the Platt, reputed to be the oldest footway in Amersham, and passes Chapel House near the old Baptist Burial Ground. A door in the wall can lead you down by the side of the Chapel and out into the High Street again. Continuing down the Platt past the fairytale 16th Century Chimney Cottage the path emerges onto Whielden Street which is the main road from Amersham to High Wycombe. Some distance down Whielden Street on the right is the Victorian facade of the original workhouse buildings - once the Hospital, built by Scott in 1838 and with the date inscribed in brick on the front.
Following the major redevelopment of Amersham Hospital this site has been converted to private housing.
Nearby is the charming and unpretentious Friends Meetings House of 1685.
Turning left in Whielden Street from The Platt, the road comes back to the Market Square. Just off on the right before the road junction, is a quiet cul-de-sac in which are the Brazil’s Houses For The Elderly provided for the town by a local industrialist in 1963.
The Bypass, completed in the Autumn of 1987, relieves the High Street and Broadway of dense traffic, much of which is heavy vehicles, which has been steadily building up over the years. It commences with a roundabout on A413 at the Eastern end of the town, crosses Gore Hill in a cutting and Whielden Street with a flyover to the South of the Hospital. It then passes West emerging on to the A413 at the West end of the town near to the entrance of Shardeloes Estate.

Amersham-on-the-Hill

The new part of Amersham, a mile away from the original town and up on a hill, is colloquially termed “top” Amersham. It developed around the station from the early part of the century, and is reached either by the steep Rectory Hill near the church or past the Beaconsfield Road up Station Road. On leaving the Old Town, before ascending the hill via Station Road and on the corner of Gore Hill, (the road to Beaconsfield), is Bury Farm.
Station Road is pleasant and distinguished at its lower end by a group of houses up a steep lane called High and Over which, in the 1930’s became an architectural show-piece. At the top of the slope is the original white concrete house also called “High and Over” with its striking outlines, the first house in Britain to be built incorporating the ideas of the famous French-Swiss architect-Le Corbusier. A little higher up Station Road on the left a footpath runs up between the gardens of houses to emerge on the brow of a hill above Amersham, where stands the Martyrs’ Memorial. This commemorates not only the burning at the stake of the Amersham Lollard martyrs in 1521, including William Tylesworth burned in 1506, but also other martyrs of the Chilterns. The Memorial was for many years buried in the undergrowth but was restored and cleaned in the 1950’s by the combined efforts of the Amersham Society and the Protestant Alliance.
In the new part of Amersham there are good shops as well as some fine examples of modern church architecture. Near the station a complex of modern buildings includes the Magistrates’ Courts, the offices of Amersham Town Council, the Police Station, Community Centre and Leisure Centre. This has been extended to provide a separate swimming pool, flumes and diving pool together with gymnasium facilities and climbing centre. A magnificent childrens playground has been erected by the Town Council following a community fundraising effort which realised £67,000. In 1987 new offices adjacent to the Police Station were opened by H.R.H. the Princess Anne: these offices accommodate not only Chiltern District Council but also Buckinghamshire County Council Education and Social Services departments serving the south of the county.
The shops are situated mainly in Sycamore Road, Hill Avenue (leading to the station) and Woodside Road. This latter road runs straight through to Blackhorse Bridge where the road twists under the railway to join Stanley Hill as it comes up from Chequers Hill.
At this point, a lane called Raans Road passes some new light industrial development but after crossing a hump-backed bridge over the branch railway line to Chesham becomes a track leading to Raans Farm.
From the railway bridge White Lion Road runs left towards little Chalfont just over a mile away. The road passes the substantial premises of Amersham International PLC which is making history in its own way by supplying radioactive isotopes all over the world for peaceful application in industry and particularly in medicine.
From Little Chalfont a road runs south to Chalfont St. Giles, but turning right a short way along another road remains within the Amersham boundary providing good views across the Misbourne Valley. It passes by the well-known Harewood Downs Golf Course, after which it drops gently to the main A413 and so back via Chequers Hill into Amersham Market Square.
The Millstream, Amersham (formerly a Corn Mill) is possibly the site of one of three mills mentioned in the Domesday Survey. In 1504, two mills were specifically mentioned in the records as the Bury and Malt Mills, the former obviously being the Millstream at Bury End. From the 1930’s onwards until just a few years ago, it was a popular restaurant where people came to wine and dine and view the River Misbourne as it ran through at the side of the dance floor before wending its way through the meadows to the Chalfonts. It is now a most elegant fashion centre.
Little Chalfont

Little Chalfont as we know it today developed in the 1920s, but previously was essentially a group of long established farmhouses, with names still familiar such as Snells, Cokes, Loudhams and Lowndes, and around these farmhouses were clusters of dwellings for the workers. These farmhouses and the surrounding land were owned mainly by the Dukes of Bedford or the Cavendish family (Lords of Chesham) and were leased to the tenant farmers.Little Chalfont SheephousesBy far the most important property in the area was Beel Park. The date of the present house is uncertain, the deeds having been lost in the mid-18th Century, but it is said that there was an early building dating from the medieval times, and some of the outbuildings, such as the present Beel House Nurseries, date from Elizabethan times. During Henry VIII’s reign the estate was owned by the Duke of Buckingham, a descendant of the Mandeville family, which had acquired Amersham after the Conquest. In the 17th Century Mary Pennington, mother of Gulielma Springett, who married William Penn, the prominent Quaker and founder of the State of Pennsylvania, is believed to have lived in Beel House with her second husband, Isaac Pennington. In the early 1800s the niece of Lord Nelson resided in Beel House with her husband Lt. Henry William Mason, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire; whilst later prominent tenants have included Mr A.A. Lyle of Tate & Lyle Sugar Co., who came to live in the House in 1911, and Sir Dirk Bogarde, the famous actor, who purchased it in 1954.
One of the main clusters of dwellings, referred to earlier on, was around the pond in Finch Lane. Among them are ‘The Piece’, dating from pre 1600 and ‘Bottle Cottage’ dating from 1760, which at one time was a blacksmith’s shop. The bottles built into the outside wall are thought to be original, and according to the Buckinghamshire County Council, there are only three such cottages in the county, of which Finch Lane’s is the best example.Whilst the menfolk were essentially farmworkers, bodgers or workers in the Brick Yard, sited where the Library and Village Hall now stand, the women were engaged in the local cottagers’ crafts of lace making or straw plaiting. The main road through Little Chalfont is the A404, which roughly follows the centuries old route from Amersham to Rickmansworth, Watford and Hatfield, which was narrow and in bad repair. By 1786 the Chenies to Amersham stretch of the Hatfield to Reading road was so unusable that coaches simply could not get through. Four Hundred trustees, lead by the Cecil family of Hatfield House, and supported by local dignitaries such as the Drake, Lowndes, Cavendish and Mason families, presented a bill to Parliament and an Act authorising a Turnpike Road was passed. The Marquess of Salisbury of Hatfield House suffered badly from gout. Every year in the social season he travelled to Bath or Cheltenham in order to take the waters. To save him the discomfort of travelling via London to the Great West Road he favoured the building of a Turnpike Road direct from Hatfield to Reading, to enable him to travel in greater comfort. As a result this route became known as ‘The Gout Track’. On the Eastern Green, near Church Grove, Little Chalfont, an old mile post still stands, giving the distances in miles to Hatfield, Amersham and Reading. Opposite this milepost is a group of houses known as Sheephouses. In 1796 one of these houses is recorded as being a blacksmith’s shop, serving traffic on the Turnpike Road. For many years the other cottages were used as an overnight stopping place for sheep and cattle drovers on their way to and from Watford market.
Chenies Parade Little Chalfont The Metropolitan Railway reached the area in July 1889 and the station known as Chalfont Road was officially opened, but in 1915 the name was changed to the present name of Chalfont & Latimer Station. Development of the village commenced in early 1922 and Village Way became the first complete residential development. After a period the residents applied to Chalfont St. Giles Parish Council to change the name of the area and the Parish Minute Book, dated 15th January 1925, records:- ‘That the Council agree the request of the inhabitants of Chalfont Station Village for it to be renamed LITTLE Chalfont’. The Bucks Examiner, in their issue of 30th January 1925 confirmed the request of the residents and:- The sanction of the Director General of the Ordnance Survey that in future it will be known as LITTLE Chalfont. From then onwards the village steadily developed supported by strong publicity with the slogan:-’Come and Live in Metroland’. Today with a population approaching 7000 it is anticipated that, with the discipline of the Green Belt Policy, the numbers and development may stabilise at this level.