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CHESHAM is a market town and parish, including the hamlets of Asheridge,
Ashley Green, Bellingdon, Botley, Charteridge, Hundbridge, and Watersids;
the latter is an extensive and thickly-populated hamlet adjoining and
forming part of the town itself. The place derives its name from the river
Ches, which flows through the town, and is a tributary of the Colne; the
former river takes rise from two springs, one in the park of William Lowndes,
Esq., and the other at Higham Mead. Chesham is one of the most important
towns in the county, consisting principally of three streets, situate in the
hundred of Burnham, union of Amersham; 28 miles N.W. by W. by road from
London, 3 from Amersham, 12 from High Wycombe, 13 from Aylesbury, and 30
from Buckingham. The nearest railway station is Berkhampstead, 5 miles
distant; the stations at Tring and at Watford are respectively 8 and 12
miles distant. The country around is of a beautifully undulating,
picturesque and fertile character, consisting of beech-clad hills and
romantic valleys, in one of which the town is seated. This place and High
Wycombe are the only towns in tie county in which any manufactures are
carried on, The town has long been celebrated for its various articles of
turnery and wooden ware, comprising malt and barn shovels, bowls,
brush-handles, spoons, hoops, etc., of which considerable quantities are
made. There are two breweries, several paper mills, and an extensive
silk-throwing factory carried on by Mr. T. E. Shute, employing upwards of
200 hands. This place is also noted for the excellence of its boots and
shoes, large quantities of which are supplied to the London market; the
manufacture of straw plait finds employment for a considerable number of the
female portion of the inhabitants. The trade of the town would be materially
benefitted by nearer railway communication, which judging from the
importance of the place, and the several plans that have been propounded,
may ere long be reasonably expected. A Gas Works has been established some
years. The market for corn and cattle is held on Wednesday, and well
attended by the farmers of the neighbourhood. Fairs are holden on the 21st
of April, 22nd July, 28th September, and on the 2nd Wednesday in November;
the latter is principally for sheep. The parish comprises an area of 12,657
statute acres, chiefly arable, with a population, according to the census of
1861, of 5985 persons. The soil is clay, flint, and chalk. The Right Hon.
Lord Chesham, Benjamin Fuller, Esq., and William Lowndes, Esq., are lords of
The Parish Church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient and venerable structure, of Gothic architecture, seated on a gentle acclivity. The living is a vicarage, Consisting of Chesham, Woburn, and Leicester, consolidated in 1767, each rated it £13 1s. 5d.; present gross income about £553 per annum. The Duke of Bedford is patron and impropriator of the great tithes. The Rev Adolphus Frederick Aylward, M.A., is rector, and the Rev C. J. Binns, M.A., curate. The High Calvinistic and General Baptists have each a chapel here: there is also a chapel for Independents, and a Friends' Meeting House. The National School for boys and girls, situate new the church, is an excellent new building well adapted for the purpose. The Dissenting denominations are represented by the British Schools, two commodious structures, one for boys, situate in Townfield, and the other, for girls, in High street. There is also a National Infant School, in Germain street. The total amount derived fron the parochial charities is about £150 per annum. Weedon's charity consists of four almshouses, founded in 1624, and an estate in the hamlet of Hundridge, the proceeds of which are devoted to the support of the almsmen and repairing the almonry. The Devonshire charity, founded in 1630, by William, Earl of Devon, consists of 35 acres of land, the rent of which is expended on seven or eight poor persons. There are eight church-houses inhabited by paupers. The County Court is held monthly in the Town Hall, where there is also an excellent Reading Room; a Mechanics Institute is in Church Street. The most important seats in the neighbourhood are those of the Right Hon. Lord Chesham, at Latimer House; William Lowndes, esq, the Berry; and Benjamin Fuller, Esq., at Chesham Woburn Hall. Near the town is a mineral spring, the waters of which are considered efficacious in complaints.
Ashley Green is a small village and hamlet situate on an eminence, about 2 1/2 miles from Chesham, and a similar distance from Berkhampstead. The land, chiefly arable, is divided into a number of farms of considerable extent. The walls and moats of an old Danish fort are still perceptible on Grove Farm. Here is a Chapel and a School, of modern structure, for boys and girls.
Asheridge and Bellingdon are straggling villages adjoining each other, and also forming hamlets in the parish of Chesham, from the edge of which they extend for several milea.
Botley is a hamlet and irregular village, situate on a hill, commencing at the verge of the town and extending two miles on the Hemel Hempstead road. The Baptists hare a chapel in the village.
Charteridge ia a hamlet, situate on one of the hills by which Chesham is surrounded. It commences from the town and runs about 3 1/2 miles on the road to Aylesbury. Here is a place of worship for Baptists.
Hundridge is a small village and hamlet, chiefly consisting of three farms and Hyde House, the residence of Benjamin Fuller, Esq., J.P. It occupies a lofty position on the road to Great Missenden, and extends upwards of 2 1/2 miles from Chesham, at the edge of which town it commences.
Watebside is the most important hamlet in the parish, extending from the town through a pleasant valley, watered by the river Ches, which in its course turns three flour mills. The hamlet generally presents a busy appearance, there being several manufactories of wooden-ware, and the extensive silk-throwing factory before referred to. The Chesham Gas Works is also situate in this hamlet. The names of the traders, &c., are incorporated with Chesham. A new church is in course of erection.