History of the Amersham Area

15-19 Market Sq (N)

15, 17 and 19 Market Square are three houses on the Market Hall side of Church Street and sometimes described as 15-19 High Street.

One of the photos below shows no. 19 through the arches of the Market Hall in 1911, when Miss Ann Southam ran her pie shop there.  She was then aged 79.  A recent photo of this same scene is to be seen on the Chiltern Society PhotoGroup website.  The Amersham Society has written an article about no. 19 and the Dumbarton butchers’s shop.

Another photo below shows the filming in 1919 of ” As He Was Born“, with a temporary statue of Anthony Mapletoft J.P., the fictitious “Mayor of Umberminster” in place.  Unfortunately, no copies of the film have survived.

The 1769 will of Ralph Adams of Amersham, butcher, included the “Cottage or tenement wherein John Hatch cook now dwelleth situate near the Market House in Amersham aforesaid being the Corner House on the left hand going from the said Market House into the Street there called Church End”.  This must be what is now no. 15.  This house was probably built in the 15th century, timber-framed with plaster filling.  The listed building particulars state that original king-post trusses in the roof have cambered tie-beams with curved 4-way braces carrying central purlins. This cottage was for many years known as Keeps Cottage, the name of the occupier, Mr. Keep.  He was a keen gardener and for many years caretaker of the Town Hall.  He lived dangerously because on many occasions the gutters, eaves and tiles of the house were knocked down by high lorries turning into Church Street, until a weight restriction was put on Church Street and Rectory Hill.

No. 17 Market Square appears to have been a very small timber-framed house which was built against the outer wall of no. 15. The jetty at the side of the adjacent 15th century cottage projects into a 20th century extension forming the kitchen. The house was probably pushed forward by over 2 metres when the house was given a brick front in the 18th century.

The most interesting feature is on the other side of the back yard. The roof trusses of a narrow covered way are clearly visible running behind 15 -19 Market Square. It is thought that this would have continued through what is now Market Walk to the Gables at no. 27 High Street which was a convent in earlier times. It is supposed that the covered way provided a dry route between the convent and St Mary’s Church.
According to the census returns, residents included:
1841 Edward Stone 59 Chairmaker
1851 Benjamin Southam born 1801, Post Boy with his wife Emily
1861 Benjamin Southam described himself as a Groom.
1871 Emily Southam widow 69 was a General Confectioner
with her daughter Ann 36, a Dressmaker.
1881 Emily Southam
1891 Ann Southam 58, Laundress
1901 Ann Southam living off own means
1911 Ann Southam

These buildings have been through many changes of use in the last 100 years as can be seen in the photos below.  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.