130 High St (Piers Place)
130 on the left and 130b on the right
This article was written by Gerry Selby with help from the owners
Piers Place is a dignified Queen Anne period house, built late 17th Century and is now Grade II listed. It is situated on the western end of the High Street at the corner of Cherry Lane and was built on one of the town’s berry fields. At the time this house was built, Amersham was doing a brisk commercial trade and was asked to send representatives to Edward I’s Parliament.
The Earl of Bedford sold Amersham in 1637 to William Drake of Shardeloes. Over the next couple of centuries, the Drakes slowly acquired the majority of the properties in Amersham. Piers Place was known as ‘The Firs’ at this time and was built for the Bent family who still owned the house in 1700. The house was originally built of wood and was re-cased in brick in the 1700’s. The two-storey west wing was also constructed at this time. A notable feature is the large central staircase window. The Bent family is recorded as making a generous donation of £700 to the Amersham Rectory in 1728 and there is a memorial to them in St Mary’s Church.
By 1742 a map shows the house as the property of the Drakes and the then tenant was a Samuel Clarke. At this time Amersham was becoming popular with maltsters and brewers and a brewer, William Ball, leased three fields next to ‘The Firs’, and these then passed to a succession of maltsters, lastly to John Weller, of the locally famous Weller brewing family. John Weller lived at ‘The Firs’ from 1830 until his death in 1843 and his wife Elizabeth continued to live there for some years. During this time, the Weller’s place in Amersham society was second only to the Drakes.
After the Wellers, the house was then rented out to a series of general practitioners, starting in the 1860s with William Carpenter and in the 1870s with Walter Potts. A one-storey extension was added which became the doctor’s surgery. By 1901 the house and surgery were occupied by a Dr James Gardner and his wife, Ethel, and four servants. Dr Gardner had a 21 yr lease from June 1922 at a rent of £120 per annum. He stayed at the house until it was sold in the grand auction of the Drake’s Amersham properties in 1928.
‘The Firs’ was described in the Auction as of mellow red brick and tiled roof and comprised of a drawing room, dining room, study, kitchen, scullery and two cellars. On the first floor was a sitting room, three bedrooms, two dressing rooms, bathroom and WC. On the second floor were five servant bedrooms and two boxrooms. Gas, water and electric light were laid on. (See a copy of the sale particulars in the photo gallery below.)
In 1928, Dr Gardner’s practice was joined by Dr Samuel Johns. He and his wife, Elizabeth, ultimately bought the house in 1939. The practice expanded to four doctors, Dr John, Rolt, Strang & Davidson. By 1952, Dr Rolt had bought the house. Then in 1956 his family sold the house to Ludovic Kennedy (later to become Sir Ludovic) and his wife, Moira Shearer.
It was under Ludovic Kennedy’s ownership that the house was renamed ‘Piers Place’ and became a Grade II listed building. They lived here with their three children until 1965 when it was sold at an auction in London.
The new owners then were Geoffrey & Shirley Carter and in 1979 it passed to Peter Seeman and his wife until 1997. Alan & Chris Harris occupied the house for the next six years, when it was bought in 2003 by the current owners, Christopher and Emma Fleming.
See an account of “Monkey Tricks” at Piers Place.
Click on any of the photographs below to enlarge it and to see the description. Then click on forward or back arrows at the foot of each photograph. To close the pictures, just click on one.