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Chesham (St. Mary)

CHESHAM (St. Mary), a market-town and parish, in the union of Amersham, hundred of Burnham, county of Buckingham, 3 miles (N.) from Amersham, and 29 (N. W. by W.) from London; comprising the hamlets of Asheridge, Ashley-Green, Bellingdon, Botley, Charteridge, Hundridge, Latimer, and Waterside; and containing 5593 inhabitants, of whom 2425 are in the town. This place derives its name from the small river Chess, which rises in the neighbourhood, and, after running through the town, empties itself into the Colne near Rickmansworth. The town consists of three streets, is situated in a pleasant and fertile valley, and was formerly noted for its extensive manufacture of wooden-ware and turnery, which has of late much declined. The prevailing branch of manufacture at present is the making of shoes for the London market; many females are employed in making lace and strawplat; and there are several mills worked by the Chess for the manufacture of paper, and a silk-mill worked by machinery. The market-days are Wednesday, for corn, which is pitched in the market-place, and Saturday, for straw-plat and provisions: fairs are held on April 21st and July 22nd, for cattle; and September 28th, a statute-fair. The county debt-court of Chesham, established in 1847, has jurisdiction over the greater part of the registration-districts or poor-law unions of Amersham and Berkhampstead, and over two or three adjacent parishes.

The parish comprises by computation 12,650 acres, which, excepting about 500 of wood and 143 common or waste, are chiefly arable: the surface is in general hilly, and the soil on the high lands abounds with flint and chalk, which latter is obtained for manure. The living is a discharged vicarage, formerly consisting of the medieties of Chesham-Leicester and Chesham-Woburn, each valued in the king's books at £13. 1. 5½., but consolidated in 1767; patron, the Duke of Bedford. The great tithes have been commuted for £2326, and the vicarial for £550; there are 2½ acres of vicarial glebe. The church is an ancient cruciform structure, with a square embattled tower surmounted by a low spire: in the chancel is a monument from an elegant design by Bacon, to the memory of Nicholas Skottowe, Esq. At Latimer is a chapel of considerable antiquity, which has lately been rebuilt; it is supposed to have been endowed by the Cavendish family. There are four places of worship for dissenters, two of which are for Baptists. A chalybeate spring was discovered in 1820. At Asheridge, a college for a rector and twenty brethren was founded in 1283, by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall; the revenue of which, at the Dissolution, was £447. 18.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.