Clement Shorter's 1910 description of Amersham.


Writing in 1910 in "Highways and Byways of Buckinghamshire", Clement Shorter commented on Amersham.

The town consists of one long street, with the Market Hall already mentioned, a substantial church with many interesting associations,some picturesque alms-houses and many examples of half-timbered houses. The railway station is half a mile up the hill to the right when we reach the end of the town. Around the station a new town is growing up, composed largely of villa residences. At present it is called the New Town, but it will probably develop into Amersham-on-the-Hill in emulation of Harrow. We shall tarry a minute at the alms-houses, built in 1617 by Sir William Drake, and note the six simple cottages, each consisting of two small rooms. The inmates, six poor widows of burgesses of the town, as we are informed by Lipscomb, are admitted at fifty years of age, and receive six shillings each per week, two loads of beech wood yearly, and every second year a shift gown. The Amersham free grammar school is also endowed. Among the members of Parliament for the borough before it was absorbed in a secion of the county may be named Sir Edmund Waller and Algernon Sidney, but the name of Drake is of perennial recurrence in the annals of Amersham politics. In this connection we are told that Amersham had a curious custom.

The inns of the town were taken possession of at election time by the women-folk, old and young, married and unmarried - the two best inns being selected by the lady inhabitants. Here the fair ones awaited the arrival of the newly elected members who formally entered the room and very deliberately and demurely kissed them in turns. This performance concluded, a raid was made into the inn rooms by the young men of the place, and amid loud laughter and screams and struggles innumerable, they also kissed the not unwilling dames.