A Brief History of Amersham

A Brief History of Amersham

Amersham, formally known as Elmodesham in the Doomsday Book, was a Roman settlement at Mantles Green (on the Aylesbury end of the High Street). Amersham is actually 2 towns! There is Amersham on the Hill, which is the new town, founded around the railway and Old Amersham.

History of Amersham

Amersham Old Town was mainly built in the 17th and 18th century, though the streets are no longer cobbled, you still get a real feel of what it was like at that time. There are several very good pubs and restaurants, but at one time the woman of the house brewed the ale and she would hang a green bush up outside the house to let everyone know that the ale was ready to drink!

A small museum is situated in the town it has loads of old photographs showcasing the history of Amersham. Copies of the photographs can be ordered. There are examples of tools used in local trades Blacksmith, Wheelwrights and Chair makers, the women and children worked at home making black lace (particularly in the Victorian period) and plaiting straw, which was taken to Luton to make into hats. The museum has an herb garden, both for culinary and medicinal use; you can sit outside and enjoy the sights and fragrance of the garden.

The river Misbourne flows through the Old Town, but it is hardly more than a stream, which can dry up for long periods of time. This is a chalk stream which disappears underground only to reappear some distance later. During the reign of King John a charter was given to Amersham to hold a weekly market and an annual fair. There is a small market held under the arches of the market hall in Old Amersham a couple of times a week. Whilst Amersham on the Hill boasts a market on Tuesdays which closes Sycamore road.

The charter fair is still held in Old Amersham on the 19th and 20th of September, it runs the length of the High Street and Broadway, the Old Town is then closed to through traffic. The fair has been held every year for over 800 years even through 2 world wars! If the fair misses a year then they lose the charter. There have been several attempts to have the fair moved by a few local residents, which seems a shame to end an amazing tradition just so they don’t have the noise and disruption on 2 nights a year?

Amersham on the Hill contains most of the shops, the well known high street brands, banks and building societies. The station is at the end of the Metropolitan line and is also on the Chiltern line, so it is really easy to get a train into either Baker Street or Marylebone stations in London. The Chiltern line also goes to Aylesbury and then on to Birmingham.

Old Amersham is full of antique shops, exclusive boutiques with plenty of coffee shops, pubs and restaurants. This creates an interesting and pleasant walk around the town, if you prefer to just sit and watch the world go by there are pavement tables outside the coffee shops or you can sit in the memorial gardens for peace and quiet.