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Chesham (traditionally and locally or , although has become more common in usage) is a market town in the Chiltern Hillsmarker, Buckinghamshire, England. It is located 11 miles south-east of the county town of Aylesburymarker. Chesham is also a civil parish designated a town council within Chiltern districtmarker. It is situated in the Chess Valleymarker and surrounded by farmland, as well as being bordered on one side by Amershammarker and Chesham Boismarker. The earliest records of Chesham as a settlement are from the second half of the tenth century although there is archeological evidence of people in the area from around 8000 BC.

The town is known for its four Bs:- Baptists (the town experienced considerable unrest being a seat of religious nonconformity. During the English Civil War the townspeople sided with the Parliamentarians), beer, boots and brushes. Chesham's prosperity grew significantly during the 18th and 19th centuries with the development of manufacturing industry.

In the face of fierce competition from both home and abroad all these traditional industries rapidly declined. The ready availability of skilled labour encouraged new industries to the town both before and after the end of the Second World War. Today employment in the town is provided by mainly small business engaged in light industry, technology and professional services.

From the early part of the 20th century onwards there has been a considerable expansion of the town with new housing developments and civic infrastructure. Increasingly Chesham has also become a commuter town with improved connection to London via the Underground and road networks. The town centre has been progressively redeveloped since the 1960s and was pedestrianised in the 1990s. The population of the town has increased to slightly over 20,000 but further growth has been restricted through the application of Green belt policies.


Early history

There is archeological evidence of the earliest settlement during the Mesolithic period around 8000 BC and the earliest farming evidence from the Neolithic era around 2500 BC. Bronze Age tribes settled in the valley around 1800 BC and they were succeeded by Iron Age Belgic people of the Catuvellauni tribe around 500 BC. Between 150-400 AD there is evidence of Romano-British farming and nearby at Latimermarker there is archaeological evidence of a Roman villa and the planting of grapevines. However the area was then deserted until the Saxon period around the 7th century'.

Contrary to popular belief, the town is not named after the river; rather, the river is named after the town. The first recorded reference to Chesham is under the Old English name Cæstæleshamm meaning "the river-meadow at the pile of stones around 970 in the will of Lady Ælfgifu, who has been identified with the former wife of King Eadwig. She held an estate here which she bequeathed to Abingdon Abbeymarker.

In 1086 there were three adjacent estates which comprised Caestreham which are briefly recorded in the Domesday Book as being of 1½, 4 and 8½ hides, having four mills. The most important of these manors was held by Queen Edith, the widow of Edward the Confessor. One of the two others would later become Chesham Boismarker parish. The earliest habitation was in the area close by the present St Mary's Church in an area called The Nap where are found remaining the oldest buildings of the present-day town in Church St.

The land owners of Chesham

Henry III granted the town a royal charter for a weekly market in 1257. During the 13th and 14th centuries the manor of Great Chesham was a part of the lands held by the Earls of Oxford and Surrey. During the 16th century it was owned by the Seymour family who disposed of it to the Cavendish family the Earls and later Dukes of Devonshire who held it into the first part of the 19th century. Meanwhile adjacent land in and around the town was owned by the Lowndes family. William Lowndes was an influential politician and Secretary to the Treasury during the reign of William III and Queen Anne. He had the original Bury and manor house of Great Chesham, rebuilt in 1712. The Lowndes family settled in Chesham and over the next 200 years became equally influential both nationally through politics and the law and locally within the town as its principle benefactors. Another family, the Scottowes, also controlled estate lands within and outside the town and later on, the Duke of Bedford also.
Thomas Harding memorial

Religious dissent and nonconformity

Chesham is noted for the religious unrest which dominated the town from the 1500s. In 1532 Thomas Harding was burnt at the stake in the town for being a Lollard and heretic. From the 17th century Chesham was a focus for those dissenting from mainstream religion. In the 1630 and 40s, increasing numbers of these dissenters left Chesham and the surrounding district to join the English colonies in Massachusettsmarker including in 1643 John Winthrop's fleet. On board was William Chase and his son Aquila Chase whose descendant Salmon P. Chase was the United States Treasury Secretary and Chief Justice in the 1870s and after whom the Chase Manhattan Bank is named although Chase did not have any connection with the bank. In 1678 Quakers had built a meeting house. The first Baptists meeting dates back to about 1640 and regular services started in 1706. The first chapel was opened in 1712, one of many to be built for the various Baptist groups during the 18th and 19th centuries. John Wesley preached in Chesham in the 1760s and a Methodist society used to meet at the Congregational Church. In more recent time a Wesleyan Methodist chapel was opened in 1897. The Christian Brethren which date back in Chesham to 1876, opened their Gospel Hall in 1895.

Industrial development

The primary industries of the town in Medieval times were flour production, woodworking and weaving of wool. There were four mills built along the Chess which was diverted to generate sufficient power. Surplus flour was supplied to London. The number of clothworkers, including spinners and those associated with dying (fullers), grew rapidly between 1530 and 1730 and became the major industry in the town prior to a period of rapid decline in the face of competition from the large-scale, mechanised mills of Yorkshiremarker. Between 1740 to 1798 mills were converted to produce paper (pulp) responding to London's insatiable demand for paper. However, technological developments in paper-making elsewhere rendered the mills unprofitable and they reverted to flour production in the 1850s.

New industries emerged from the 16th century onwards. A small-scale woodenware industry begun around 1538 and its expansion was accompanied by the planting of beechwoods between 17th and 19th centuries. Straw plaiting was seen as home-based work for the wives and daughters of labourers from the 18th century. Straw was imported to produce plait for the Lutonmarker and Dunstablemarker hat trade and remained the major cottage industry and employment for women and girls until 1860. Lace making developed in 16th century as a cottage industry and was valued for its quality until fashions changed and decline set in around 1850. Between 1838 and 1864 silk-spinning, powered by steam-driven mills was started to make use of unemployed lace workers. This trend was relatively short-lived as changes in fashion and the growth of the railways resulted in competition from elsewhere for the valuable London markets. However one exception was the firm of George Tutill, which specialised in high-quality banners and was responsible for three-quarters of those made for Trades Unions. The firm is still a going concern still specailising in flags and banners.

Three of the four B's that have shaped Chesham's history relate to its industries. Brush making was introduced around 1829 to make use of the off-cuts from woodworking. Boot and shoe making which started as a cottage industry later expanding through small workshops thrived following the opeining of tanneries around 1792 which also supplied leather for saddle making and glove. By the mid 1800s both brushmaking and footwear manufacture became major industries in the town with production concentrated in large factories. Beer brewing grew rapidly around the town centre in the 19th century. All three rapidly declined at the start of the 20th century. These traditional industries were succeeded by smaller but more commercial enterprises which took advantage of the available skilled labour. For example in 1908 the Chiltern Toy Works was opened by Joseph Eisenmann on Bellingdon Road, later moving to the 'new' industrial estate in Waterside, making high quality Teddy Bears. The works finially closed in 1960. Post Second World War industry has ranged from the manufacture of glue (Industrial Adhesives) to aluminium-based packaging (Alcan) and balloons (B-Loony).

The town in times of war

William the Conqueror paused at nearby Berkhamstedmarker in 1066 en route to London. Henry VIII imposed a tax on the town to pay for his wars against Scotland and France.

In common with the majority of communities in Buckinghamshire, Chesham's lollard heritage and puritan traditions ensured it would vehemently resist King Charles I demand for Ship Money a tax on tradesmen and landowners. In 1635 the townsfolk of Chesham protested to the Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, Sir Peter Temple who was reluctantly enforcing a writ requiring payment of a levy to the King. Not surprisingly given the local allegiances to John Hampden the towns' people largely sided with the Parliamentarians at the outbreak of the English Civil War. There is evidence of skirmishes in the area and Influential Parliamentarians such as John Pym were headquartered along with large numbers of troops for a period.

The records of the Posse Comitatus for Chesham in 1798 recorded over 800 men between the ages of 16-60 enrolled in a militia to defend the town in the event of invasion by Napoleon I or to deal with civil unrest. Less than 50 years later, in 1846 a similar register of 22 able-bodied men had been assembled to form the Chesham troop of the Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry which coincided with the billeting of troops from the Queen's Own 7th Hussars passing through the town on their way to Ireland.

During the First World War 188 servicemen from Chesham lost their lives (see Landmarks). Alfred Burt a corporal in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment from Chesham received the Victoria Cross for his actions in September 1915. The town were temporary quarters for several regiments including the Kings Royal Rifles and the Royal Engineers honed their bridge building skills in local parks. Over the duration of the Second World War 80 servicemen lost their lives. Air raid shelters were built by the Council in 1940 although the official view was that the not being a strategic location the town was unlikely to be targeted. In fact at the end of the war it was estimated that 45 bombs fell in the Chesham area and it is known that nine people were killed.

Social history

A Chesham workhouse for 90 paupers was operating in Germain Street as early as 1777. New legislation transferred the control of the Chesham institution to Amersham Poor Law Union in 1835. However there were long-standing rivalries between the locals of both towns and in July that year violence broke out when an order was given to remove the paupers to Amersham. The Riot Act was read out to an angry crowd of 500 and arrests followed.

Publicly-funded education started with the opening of a British School in 1825 followed by a National School in 1845, an Infants' Schoo in 1851 and the first Elementary School for girls in 1864. Chesham Building Society, the oldest such society in the world opened for business in 1845. Other public institutions also started at this time with the Fire Brigade coming in 1846, the first cemetery in 1858 and the Police Station built in 1861.

Chesham cottage hospital, built for £865 17s 11d on land provided by Lord Chesham, opened in October 1869 and just ahead of an outbreak of typhoid in 1871. (Despite a local campaign to save the hospital its closure was announced in September 2004). The Council commissioned a waterworks to be built in 1875 in Alma Road and mains drainage in the town and a sewage works was opened adjacent to the Chess, downstream in 1887. A gasworks was constructed on the southern part of the town in 1847.

Transport connections have always come late to the town. The Metropolitan railway eventually reached Chesham in July 1889. Electrification was not to come until the 1960s. Between the two world wars and in the 1950s and 60s there was much expansion in the town with new public housing developments along the Missenden Road, at Pond Parkmarker and at Botley.


The town is located in the Chess Valley and is 11 miles south-east of the county town of Aylesburymarker and is situated 25 miles (40 km) north west of central London. It is the fifth largest town in the ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire, with a population of some 20,343 people behind Milton Keynesmarker with 184,500, High Wycombemarker with 118,200, Aylesburymarker with 69,200 and Amershammarker the nearest town with 21,400.

Topography and geology

Chesham is located in the Chiltern Hillsmarker and from its lowest point of 295 feet above sea level rises up valley sides. It lies at the confluence of four dry valleys formed by the meltwater at the end of the last ice age which deposited onto the bed rock of chalk, alluvial gravels, silts, on which the town now sits. Subsequent periods of subsidence and submergence deposited clays and flints. The River Chessmarker is a chalk-stream which rises from three springs; to the north-west along the Pednor Vale at Frogmoor, at Higham Mead to the north of the town, and to the west near the Amersham Road which converge in the town near to East Street. Prior to the 19th century the Chess was known as the Isene relating to the iron-charged spring waters feeding it. Today the streams are culverted and conducted below street level before emerging at Waterside and flowing in a south easterly direction towards Latimer. From there it flows to the north of Cheniesmarker and on towards Rickmansworthmarker after which it joins the River Colnemarker.

Built environment and social geography

Until the second half of the 19th century the town centre was located to the south-eastern end of the present High Street. The 'old town' particularly Church St and Germain St have been well-preserved and has become a conservation area which includes a number of impressive residential, institutional and commercial buildings that survive to the present such as the 12th century St Mary's Church, 'The Bury', a Queen Anne town house, and the old workhouse. In June 2009 the Chesham town centre and old town conservation area was placed on the English Heritage Conservation Areas at Risk register which the District Council commented was due to the misinterpretation of its responses to the conservation body's questionaire.
St Mary's Church
The population more than doubled from 4000 to 9000 during the 19th century. As a consequence the centre of the town shifted to the east as shops, workshops and cottages sprung up along the High Street and Berkhampsted Road. In the period after the Second World War the town centre was progressively redeveloped. In the 1960s St Mary's Way was constructed, rerouting the A416 around the congested High Street which avoided the need to widen the street, conserved its character and allowed for its pedestrianisation during the 1990s. Industrial development became centred on two areas. At the southern end of the town at Waterside which was the site of the first mills and factories in the 18th and 19th centuries there is a mixture of original and newly constructed industrial units and at the northern end along the Asheridge Vale there is a further development of generally small commercial business units.

Expansion in housing has occurred in several phases mainly to the east of the old town where artisan's housing sprung up along Berkhamsted Road and subsequently along the many steep valley sides. Initially this development was as a consequence of the extension of the railway to the town in the 1880s, subsequently the promotion of Metroland during the 1920s and the electrification of the Metropolitan Line in the 1960s. Pond Park estate was build in the 1930s. The population grew fast after the Second World War as workers followed employers who moved out from London. The population in 1951 was 11,500 leading to the building of the Chessmount and Hilltop estates by speculative developers in the 1950s and 60s. By 1971 the population had reached 20,000 since when it has only increased slightly. The growing popularity of the Chilterns as a place to live from the latter part of the 20th century onwards led to restrictions on housing and industrial development in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has sustained the demand for further house building in the town. Today an increasing number of those in employment find work outside the town, commuting by car or train as well as an increasing number who are home or office-based using technology to make a living.


Chesham experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom. 

Chesham War Memorial


Clock tower

A clock tower constructed in 1992 stands in Market Square on the site of Chesham’s 18th Century Town Hall demolished in 1965. The turret is a reconstruction of the one built onto the original town hall in the 19th century and features the original glass-dialled clock face and clock mechanism from the mid 19th century. (see info box).

War memorial

Chesham war memorial stands in a landscaped garden in The Broadway. It depicts an infantryman with his rifle inverted and commemorates those who fell during the first and second World Wars. it was unveiled in 1921. The inscription reads:- To The Glorious Memory Of The Men Of The Town Who Gave Their Lives And To Honour: All Who Served Or Suffered In Cause Of God King And Country Their Deeds Live After Them Faithful Unto Death.


Industrial revolution

Until the 1700s the economic activity of Chesham had remained largely unchanged since the granting of its town charter in 1257. The commercial planting of beechwoods established Chesham as one of a number local centres in the Chilterns for the production of turned furniture components and other wooden items often called bodging, in local workshops. Mills along the Chess concerned with papermaking and silk weaving continued to operate until the middle of the 19th century as did 'outworkers' engaged in lace making and straw plaiting whose employment was impacted on by changes in fashion, by mechanization and from cheaper imports from the continent. The mineral-laden unpolluted water of the Chess made it ideal for growing watercress and this industry flourished in Chesham in the Victorian era and beds extended along the Chess towards Latimermarker, which continued in operation until after the Second World War.

Manufacturing and brewing

In the 18th century home-based leather trade workers moved to a newly opened Barnes Boot factory and the Britannia Boot and Shoe Works towards the end of the 19th century by which time there were eight major manufacturers and many small workshops. In 1829 Beechwoods brushmaking factory was opened. At its height there were around 12 factories specialising in all types of brushes using locally grown beech with bristles imported mainly from across Asia. The adoption of nylon for brushes was the cause of the downturn with only one manufacturer remaining today. Russell's Brushes still make brushes in Chesham. Nash's Chesham Brewery opened in the High Street in 1841. Two other notable rivals were Darvell's Brewery and Sarah Howe and Sons. Competition led to amalgamations around the turn of the 20th century although brewing continued at Chesham Brewery until the 1950s.

Commerce today

Today Chesham has a diverse economic base comprising many typically small-medim sized enterprises representing all business sectors. Within the two industrial parks light engineering and fabrication industry is to be found alongside printers and graphic designers or other technology-based firms, wholesalers, distribution and courier businesses. As elsewhere there has been an expansion of professional business services and consultancies. The pedestrianised High Street retains some of the character of the old market town with some long-established traditional family retailers and also features a street market on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a now defunct monthly 'farmer's market'. This individuality was recognised in a survey of town 'high streets' which gave Chesham good marks for its distinctiveness. There are two of the 'big five' supermarkets present which have impacted on the town's independent stores and all retail outlets have also to compete with other nearby town centres, at Amersham, Berkhamstedmarker and Tringmarker as well as the large shopping centres in High Wycombemarker, Watfordmarker and Milton Keynes.


Parliamentary representation

From 1950 to 1974 the town was part of South Buckinghamshire constituency; since boundary changes for the February 1974 general election it has been in the Chesham & Amershammarker constituency. Both constituencies have been solidly Conservative, and have never returned a non-Tory candidate. The current MP is Cheryl Gillan.
Chesham Town Hall
The Conservative Party won the constituency in the 2005 general election with 54% of the vote; the next most popular party were the Liberal Democrats, represented by John Ford, with 25% of the vote and Labour, R.E.Huq 14%. Local turnout at the last election was 68%.

Local Government

From 1892 Local Government in the town was administered by the Chesham Urban Sanitary District, which was succeeded in 1894 by Chesham Urban Districtmarker under the Local Government Act 1894. When the Local Government Act 1972 came into effect on April 1, 1974 the urban district was abolished in favour of the Chiltern districtmarker and the civil parish was given town council status. At town council level, Chesham is divided into 9 electoral wards and 19 constituencies. The political composition of the council as at May 2008 was: Liberal Democrat 13; Conservative 4; and Independent 2. A town mayor is elected by the council on an annual basis.

Public services


Three Valleys Water supplies drinking water to the town extracted from the River Chess and Misbournemarker and from aquifers in the Chiltern Hills. Thames Water undertakes waste water treatment and has a sewage treatment works beside the River Chess on Latimer Road to the south of the town. Chiltern District Council is responsible for waste management and collection and disposal is currently carried out on its behalf by Verdant Group plc. EDF Energy provides electricity supply for the town.

Health services

Buckinghamshire NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) has overall responsibility for provision of health services to the local community. Since the closure of the town's cottage hospital in 2004, the nearest access to non-emergency healthcare services has been at Amersham Hospitalmarker, Wycombe General Hospitalmarker and Stoke Mandeville Hospitalmarker. The latter together with Hemel Hempstead General Hospital are the nearest hospitals for accident and emergency cases. In 2008 after after several years of uncertainty the PCT confirmed it was proceeding with the Chesham Healthzone Project which will provide purpose-built health facilities for Chesham, housing two GP practices and in due course specialist consultant services and health promotion clinics. Planning approval was granted by the District Council in June 2009 and the initial phase of the centre is scheduled to open in 2010.

Emergency services

Thames Valley Police headquartered in Kidlingtonmarker, Oxfordshire is accountable for delivery of policing through the town's three neighbourhood policing teams. Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service based in Aylesbury oversees the town's fire and rescue services. There is a fire station located in Bellingdon Road which is supplemented by services from the station at Amersham and other nearby towns. Ambulance services are managed by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust based in Headingtonmarker, Oxfordmarker. The nearest ambulance station for the town is located in Amersham.


The oldest church building in Chesham is St. Mary's church, which dates from at least the 12th century. Chesham has a long history of religious dissent, such as the persecuted Lollards, followers of the John Wycliffe tradition. One of them Thomas Harding was martyred on White Hill, near Dungrove Farm, in 1532. There is a memorial to local Lollards in Amershammarker, and memorials to Thomas Harding in the churchyard and on White Hill. The 17th, 18th and 19th centuries saw the rapid growth of non-conformism especially Baptists. Broadway Baptist Church dates back to 1706 and had its 300th anniversary celebrations in Chesham in 2006. Its roots are in the Chesham and Berkhamsted Baptist Church which dates back to 1640.
Chesham Mosque

In the present day, Chesham has three Baptist churches (Broadway Baptist, Trinity Baptist and Newtown Baptist) and three Anglican churches (St Mary's, Christ Church in Waterside and Emmanuel in Newtown). There is a United Reformed Church in The Broadway, there was a Gospel Hall in Station Road (which closed at the end of 2008), a Roman Catholic church (St Columba's) in Berkhampstead Road, a Methodist chapel in Bellingdon Road, a Salvation Army Citadel in Broad St, a Hiving's Free Church in Upper Belmont Road, an historic Quaker Friends Meeting House in Bellingdon Road, The King's Church in Chartridge Lane at Chesham Park Community College and Chesham Spiritualist Church in Higham Road. Most of the churches of Chesham work collectively as part of the Churches Together for Chesham (CTfC) group.

During the Second World War the first recorded Jewish congregation was founded on families evacuated from London who used to meet at the cricket pavilion and continued until 1968. This was succeeded by a Liberal Judaism community formed in 1990 which now meets at Chesham High School.

During the second half of the 20th century a Muslim community became established in the town. Chesham Mosquemarker the first purpose-built mosque was completed in 2005 and is located in Bellingdon Road.


Religion %
Buddhist 0.18
Christian 67.87
Hindu 0.30
Jewish 0.30
Muslim 6.28
No religion 17.65
Other 0.40
Sikh 0.02
Not stated 7.05
Age %
0–9 15.42
10–19 12.10
20–29 11.70
30–44 22.45
45–59 16.86
60–74 13.53
75–89 6.08
90+ 1.86
Ethnicity %
White British 87.8
White Other 3.4
Mixed origin 1.2
Indian 0.4
Pakistani 5.9
Bangladeshi 0.2
Black Caribbean 0.2
Black African 0.1
Chinese 0.3
Other 0.5
Population Total
1801 3969
1831 5388
1851 6098
1871 6488
1901 7245
1931 8812
1951 11433
1961 16297
1971 † 20466
1981 20447
1990 20214
2001 20358

Demographics based on 2001 census for the population of Chesham

  • Population of town in 2001 comprised 9,920 male and 10,438 female
  • Status = 55.5% Married, 9.5% Co-habiting, 35% Single (incl widowed, divorced etc)
  • Housing = 72.1% owner occ'd, 0.6% shared ownership, 20.3% rented (pub) 7% rented (private)
  • Car ownership = 83% of households in the town own a car.
  • Work/studying = 57% employed, 10.6% self-employed, 2.3% Studying,
  • Not working = 12.4% retired, 2.0% unemployed, 7.1% caring for family, 5.9% = unable to work
  • Travel to work = 73% car, 9.5% train, 1.9% bus, 1.6% bicycle, 0.8% on foot, 11.5% at home.

† prior to boundary changes in 1974 reducing size of Chesham Town area



In contrast to other towns in south Buckinghamshire, Chesham historically was not well served by road transport links. The stage coach bypassed the town and, unlike Amersham, there were no turnpikes and consequently roads were poorly maintained. Significant change occurred in the post Second World War period with the opening of the M1 motorway. The A416 now runs through the town, from Amersham to Berkhamstedmarker, and connects the town to the more recently upgraded A41. The A416 was diverted around the High Street and later upgraded to be dual-lane. Although these improvements enable more through traffic, traffic congestion has increased. Chesham's High Street was pedestrianised in 1990 and the benefits to the High Street have been felt ever since. Whilst some of the previous bustle has been lost, the impact of pedestrianisation has generally been positive.


Chesham tube station
The town has a tube stationmarker near the town centre, which is the last station on the spur off the Metropolitan Line, of the London Underground. The original plan involved the extension of the line from the station to the LNWR at Berkhamsted, but the idea was abandoned as the Metropolitan Line reached Amersham and thence Aylesburymarker. There were some sizeable goods yards beyond the station, which were closed and now function as Waitrose's car park except for one portion, which still functions as a coal merchants. In 1959 and electrification of the Metropolitan Line to Chesham at last provided reliable connection to London and the Midlandsmarker.

The station originally had two platforms; a short bay platform and a longer main platform (the one currently in use now). This arrangement allowed for far more frequent running of trains. The bay platform has closed, becoming an award winning garden. To reach the station, most passengers need to change trains at Chalfont & Latimer and catch a shuttle train. At peak times, some trains run directly from London to Chesham and back again, made possible by switching work at Chalfont. Since the abolition of London Underground services to Aylesburymarker in 1961 Chesham has been the furthest Tube station from central London in terms both of distance and of travelling time (Ongarmarker on the Central Line held this honour until its closure in 1994). The stretch between Chalfont & Latimer and Chesham is the longest stretch of Underground line not to contain a station. It is the least used station on the line with trains arriving every half-hour.

The nearest National Rail connections are Amersham stationmarker, although the LU line also connects directly to Chalfont & Latimer stationmarker, which is a National Rail station. There is also access to London via Berkhamsted railway stationmarker on the West Coast Main Linemarker.

Bus services

The principle bus companies running local services are Arriva, Carousel and Redline.

Residential areas of the town are connected with the central shopping area. Chesham is also connected by services to nearby Amersham, and further afield to High Wycombemarker, Hemel Hempsteadmarker, Sloughmarker, and most recently Heathrow Airportmarker and Uxbridge. Less frequent services run to Aylesburymarker and Watfordmarker, and to surrounding villages.

Car usage and parking

There are six pay and display car parks in the town, managed by Chiltern District Council. This demand for parking reflects the relatively high car usage, a result of both affluence and the limited public transport provision in rural areas. As a consequenceChiltern District has the 4th highest carbon footprint of all local authorities.


There is limited provision for cycle use within the town. The town is one setting off point for exploring the Chilterns and cycling heritage trails have been developed by the district authority, two of which are centred on countryside around Chesham.

Air transport

Luton airportmarker is 15 miles away and Heathrow airportmarker 22 miles away. The Bovingdon stack is directly above the town.


Primary education

Between 1960s and the mid 1990s Primary education provision in Chesham as elsewhere in the county was organised into First (ages 4–8) and Middle (ages 8 – 12) with some Combined Schools taking pupils across the whole age range (4 -12). In 1996 the arrangements were modified and the age of transfer to Secondary education was changed to age 11. Today, the schools still retain some elements of the previous arrangement reflected also in their names. There are six Primary Schools within Chesham with catchment areas based on post codes: - Elmtree First School, Newtown Infant School, Brushwood Junior School, Thomas Harding Junior School, Little Spring Primary School, Waterside Combined School. Attendance by Chesham children at some of the village schools close to the town is also popular.

Secondary education

At secondary level Buckinghamshire continues to operate a system of selective education with pupils sitting the eleven plus exam to determine entry to either a Grammar School or Secondary Modern School (also known locally as an Upper School). Two Secondary Schools are located in the town: - Chesham Park Community Collegemarker, a co-educational secondary modern school (formed from the merger of Lowndes School and Cestreham School) and Chesham High Schoolmarker, a co-educational grammar school. Chesham also falls within the catchment areas of two further grammar schools, Dr Challoner's Grammar Schoolmarker for boys' in Amersham and Dr Challoner's High Schoolmarker for girls in Little Chalfontmarker.

Independent schools

In the Chiltern and South Bucks area around Chesham and over the county border in Hertfordshiremarker there are also a number of independent fee-paying schools providing education between ages 4–13 and up to age 18. Chesham Preparatory School is an Independent school which opened in 1938 in the town and shortly after relocated to the outskirts of Chesham, at Orchard Leighmarker providing fee-paying and scholarship supported education.

Special, further and adult education provision

Chesham is the location of a nationally renowned Special school, Heritage House School which first opened in April 1968 and caters for pupils between the ages of 2 to 19 with severe learning difficulties.A Further education college Amersham & Wycombe Collegemarker was founded in 1973 and has one of its four campuses in the town on the former Cestreham Senior Boys School at Lycrome Road. The collage caters for a range of student cohorts with 2000 students on full-time courses and 5000 on a part-time bases.Adult learning comprising a range of provision including academic, vocational and leisure courses, is provided a four sites in the town. Chesham Adult Learning Centre in Charteridge Lane, ElmTree School, ElmTree Hill, The Douglas McMinn Centre in East Street and The White Hill Centre White Hill.The Chess Valley section of the Chiltern University of the Third Age (U3A) was formed in October 2008 in response to increasing demand for activities in the area and meets at St Mary's Church.

Culture and recreation

Community facilities

The Elgiva Theatre
The Elgiva Hall opened on its original location in 1976. In 1998, having made way for an enlarged supermarket development the Elgiva was rebuilt as a purpose-built theatre on its current site and reopened as the New Elgiva. Now rebranded The Elgiva it is a 300 seated/400 standing capacity theatre, with a Dolby Digital 35mm cinema and is owned and managed by Chesham Town Council. The Elgiva presents a wide-ranging programme of professional and amateur theatre productions, musicals, comedy, dance, one night shows and concerts, pantomimes, films, exhibitions and other public and private events by both professional and community organisations. The Little Theatre by the Park is a facility owned by the Town Council and leased to the Little Theatre Trustees. It is the home to the Chesham Bois Catholic Players and used by other local theatre companies and is used for dance and exercise groups.

Chesham Museummarker is a newly established museum for the town and surrounding area which opened in 2004 having first been conceived back in 1981. Initially it was housed in temporary premises at The Stables behind the Gamekeeper's Lodge Pub in Bellingdon Road. Since October 2009 is has been located at 15 Market Square. There is also an annual Schools of Chesham carnival, Beer festival and bi-annual Chesham festival.

Chesham Library opened in Chesham in 1923 in a room at Cemetery Lodge on Berkhamsted Road. In 1927, it moved into new premises at 33 High Street on the Broadway which it shared with Chesham Urban District Council. After the war it expanded. A children's section was added in 1952. In 1971 the library moved to Elgiva Lane, a site it shared with the Elgive Theatre prior to the latter's relocation to new premises. Since then it has been updated to provide better access and improved internal facilities including the evolution of the reference library into a Study Centre. It also houses a special collection of Victorian era children's books including some previously owned by Florence Nightingale.

The White Hill Centre, the site of an old school, is run by Chesham and District Community Association and since 1976 has provided educational, recreational social activities and facilities for societies and the local community to meet.Opposite the town centre is Lowndes Park, a large park with playgrounds and formerly an open air paddling pool. There is a large pond in the park, known as Skottowe's Pond. Lowndes Park was donated to the town of Chesham in 1953. Prior to this it was part of the garden that belonged to the Lowndes family. The Moor, originally an island created by the diversion of the Chess to power mills is today an open space used for recreation and the location for traveling fairs which moved from their traditional location in the town centre in 1938. There are two public swimming pools in the town: a heated open air pool in Waterside (Chesham Moor - Gym & Swim: outdoor swimming pool and fitness centre), and a roofed pool (and leisure centre) next to Chesham High School at the top of White Hill. The Town Council manages 227 allotments spread across three sites.


Chesham United F.C. is the local football club which plays in the Southern League. It was formed in 1917 through the merger of Chesham Generals (the team of the Chesham General Baptist church now called Broadway Baptist Church), which was founded in 1887, and Chesham Town FC, a founding member of the Southern League which started out in 1894 as Chesham FC. The club's most successful period was during the 1967-68 season when it reached the final of the FA Amateur Cup at Wembleymarker but lost out to Leytonstone F.C. 1-0 in front of a crowd of 54,000. The club has struggled financially and performance-wise over recent years but has recently had a cash injection from a new financial backer. Chesham Cricket Club was founded in 1848 and is one of the oldest clubs in the Thames Valley Cricket League. Its home ground is at Amy Lane. In addition to four senior XIs and a team of Rising Stars competing in the South East Asian league, it also runs a women's side. Chesham also has a Junior section. Chesham Rugby union Club (The Stags), founded in 1980, play their rugby at Chesham Park Community College. The club fields three men's teams, a women's team and a number of mini and junior sides.

Town twinning and cultural exchanges

Chesham has twinned with three towns in other countries. It is organised by the Chesham Town Twinning Association. The first link-up was in 1980 with Friedrichsdorfmarker, at the foot of the Taunusmarker Hills near Frankfurtmarker, Germany. Next followed the association with Houilles, a commune of Paris, France, in 1986 and thirdly, in 1995 a tie-up with Archenamarker, in the Murciamarker region of Spain.Emmanuel Church is linked with a church in Prague, Czech Republic and the British Legion is linked with its Canadian equivalent in Buckingham, Quebec.

Media, communications and filmography

Local news media

The local newspaper covering Chesham and the surrounding area, although it no longer has an office based in the town, is the Buckinghamshire Examiner founded in 1889. Another Buckinghamshire newspaper with a circulation area covering Chesham is the Bucks Free Press. The non-commercial community news blog dedicated to Chesham and nearby villages is Chiltern Voice.

TV and mobile phone signals

Due to its position in a fold in the hill, TV and radio reception in Chesham can be poor and the town now has its own TV mast. In the 1970s, Chesham was one of the last towns in the south east to receive BBC2, and parts of it still cannot receive Channel 5. Houses taking their TV reception from the Chesham transmitter have vertically polarised aerials, whilst those in a good enough position receive their signal from the Crystal Palace Transmittermarker in London with horizontally polarised aerials - they always could receive BBC2 (and indeed Channel 4 & Channel 5). Digital terrestrial television coverage is patchy for much the same reason. Mobile phone reception can be poor in the steeper parts of Chesham and outlying villages.


The following TV series and episodes were filmed in Chesham's Old Town and pedestrianised High Street:
  • The Professionals Close Quarters (1978) - Hundridge Manor
  • Hammer House of Horror: Carpathian Eagle (1980) - Lowndes Park: The Silent Scream (1980) - 68 Broad Street
  • Inspector Morse The Day of the Devil (1993) - High Street
  • Midsomer Murders: The Axeman Cometh (2007) - Market Sq; Written in Blood (1997) - High St and Old Town; Sins of Commission - High St; Things that Go Bump in the Night (2004) - Market Sq; The Black Book - 15 Market Sq (2009)
  • Nuzzle and Scratch (2009) - CBeebies programme, Toy Shop episode filmed on the high street outside Harvey Johns

Notable people

See also

Parts of Chesham Nearby towns, villages and hamlets

Further reading

External links


  1. S 1484.
  2. History of Chase Manhattan Bank, Retrieved May 12 2009
  3. Genealogy of Chase family, Retrieved May 12 2009
  4. Chiltern Teddy Bear factory
  5. Times reports riots outside Chesham Workhouse
  6. Chesham Hospital - History
  7. Chesham Timeline Chesham Museum
  8. Victorian County History Chesham Parish British History on line
  9. [1]ONS data from 2001 Census
  10. Intoduction to Geology - Chilterns Herts Geological Society June 7, 2008
  11. English Heritage National Survey of Conservation Areas at Risk, June 2009 Retrieved, 1 July 2009
  12. Chesham conservation area 'safe' Bucks Examiner 29 June 2009, Retrieved, 1 July 2009
  13. Chesham Town Clock Tower
  14. Chesham War Memorial and Roll of Honour
  15. Brewers in Hertfordshire - Chesham Chap 34
  16. Chesham rated for its High Streets's distinctiveness
  17. Thumbs up for Chesham Healthzone Bucks Ezaminer June 12 2009 Retrieved, June 14 2009
  18. Chesham Healthzone project - Bucks NHS PCT Retrieved, May 19 2009
  19. Chiltern Jewish Community website, Retrieved May 18 2009
  20. Census returns for Chesham 1801 -1901 Genuki England and ireland June 8, 2008
  21. National Statistics 2001 census for the South-East
  22. Chesham parish 2001 Census Data Published by Chiltern DC 2004
  23. Bus Services Serving Chesham Bucks County CouncilRetrieved 27 August 2009
  24. Chiltern Community Partnership Retrieved, 27 August 2009
  25. Chiltern DC Claire Partnership Cycling Heritage Routes Retrieved, 27 August 2009
  26. Bucks County Council Schools
  27. Buckinghamshire Admission Information
  28. Chesham Preparatory School
  29. Heritage House School
  30. Amersham and Wycombe College
  31. CC Adult Learning site
  32. Chess Valley U3A Retrieved 2009_07_24
  33. Elgive Hall opens 1976 Chesham Musical Theatre Retrieved, 2009_07_23
  34. Chesham Museum homepage
  35. Victorian Children's books in Chesham Library
  36. White Hill Centee Retrieved June 14 2009
  37. Chesham Town Council allotments, Retrieved 27 August 2009
  38. Chesham United F.C. History of the Club
  39. Chesham Cricket Club
  40. Chesham Town Twinning Association
  41. Buckinghamshire Examiner
  42. Bucks Free Press
  43. Chiltern Voice
  44. Chesham transmitter
  45. IMDB Location search
  46. Midsummer Murders Locations Retrieved May 11 2009

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