Amersham is essentially a tale of two places – Old Amersham and Amersham-on-the-Hill. Set in the picturesque valley of the River Misbourne, the story of Old Amersham begins in pre-Anglo-Saxon times when it was known as Agmodesham. Today, the long, broad High Street, widely regarded as one of the finest in Britain, reflects its colourful past with architecture spanning five centuries. Visit the Amersham Museum for chapter and verse. The red brick Market Hall built in 1682 with its distinctive clock tower is perhaps the High Street’s most eye-catching feature. In line with a charter granted to Amersham in 1200 it still holds a regular market. The retail experience is enhanced by a number of excellent restaurants, pubs, distinctive boutiques and a Tesco Superstore on the edge of the town. The classic Englishness of Old Amersham makes it popular with tourists and film-makers. But it’s a great place to live as there is so much going on. In summer, the town is a mass of flowers and has repeatedly won gold awards from Thames and Chiltern in Bloom. On summer Sundays there are free concerts in the beautiful Memorial Gardens. Annual events include a Festival of Arts, a Heritage Day and in September a two-day Charter Fair, a tradition going back 800 years. The locals always ensure Christmas is magical with community carols and much festive cheer.
The second chapter in the story is Amersham-on-the-Hill, about a mile to the north of Old Amersham and which came into being with the Metropolitan Railway at the end of the 19th century. Celebrated in John Betjeman’s classic film Metro-Land, it still remains hugely popular with commuters who use Amersham Station (Metropolitan Line and Chiltern Railways) to reach London Baker Street/Marylebone in around 35 minutes or Aylesbury in just under half an hour. By road the M40 at Beaconsfield is about five miles away and the M25 at Chorleywood around six.
Amersham-on-the-Hill is home to Chiltern District Council and is well equipped with municipal facilities. The Chiltern Pools Complex houses three swimming pools, a gym and an indoor climbing wall. Close by are a library and a community centre used by a broad range of clubs and societies. In addition, there is a skate park, street snooker and an outdoor fitness circuit. The town hosts football, cricket, athletics, rugby, tennis, hockey and judo clubs as well as scouts and guide troupes. There’s a large medical centre and several opticians and dentists. Independent and state schools abound, including the highly-rated Dr Challoner’s Grammar School for boys. Shoppers are well-served with wide-ranging independent retailers and multiples such as Waitrose and Marks & Spencer. The town’s spiritual needs are met by several churches. Though very different in style, Old Amersham and Amersham-on-the-Hill complement each other perfectly and are delightful places for young and old alike.
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