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article imagePhoto essay: Portrait of an English market town Special

By Tim Sandle     Mar 13, 2014 in Travel
Chesham - Chesham is a charming market town in the Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire, England. The Digital Journal spent a day capturing the quintessential features of this English country town.
Chesham is situated in the Chess Valley and surrounded by farmland. The population of the town is around 20,000, although expansion is limited due to the town being situated within an environmental "green belt." This allows for plenty of parks and open spaces.
A small waterfall is a central feature in the park
A small waterfall is a central feature in the park
Central to Chesham is the town square.
Chesham s historic town square
Chesham's historic town square
The clock tower shown in the photo was constructed in 1992. It stands in Market Square on the site of Chesham’s 18th-century town hall (which was demolished in 1965). The turret is a reconstruction of the one built onto the original town hall in the 19th century and features the original glass-dialed clock face and clock mechanism from the mid 19th century.
The square has featured in several episodes of the television drama Midsomer Murders.
Close to the clock tower is the Chesham museum, which captures the thousand year old history of the town. One of the central exhibits is an old church bell.
Old bell in the Chesham museum
Old bell in the Chesham museum
Another architectural feature is an interesting castle turret.
Turrets were used to provide a projecting defensive position allowing covering fire to the adjacent ...
Turrets were used to provide a projecting defensive position allowing covering fire to the adjacent wall in the days of military fortification
Several famous people have lived in Chesham. For example, Stephen Fry spent part of his childhood in Chesham, attending Chesham Prep School as detailed in his autobiography Moab is my Washpot; D. H. Lawrence rented a cottage at Bellingdon near Chesham, while he was working on The Rainbow; and Aneurin Bevan, the Labour politician who created the National Health Service lived Asheridge Farm.
Being an "old English" town there are plenty of old pubs.
One of Chesham s  old English  pubs
One of Chesham's 'old English' pubs
In contrast to the traditional boozer, one building was at one time a "temperance hall." These were designed as replacements for bars to encourage the 'working classes' to give up drinking.
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced or prohibited use of alcoholic beverages. ...
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced or prohibited use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements typically criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence (teetotalism), or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation or complete prohibition of alcohol.
Chesham has many parks and local spaces. These are pretty areas, with clean water and plenty of wildlife, such as ducks and swans.
The Mallard is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical areas.
The Mallard is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical areas.
The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly  while the females ...
The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly, while the females have mainly brown-speckled plumage. Mallards live in wetlands, eat water plants and small animals.
The word swan is derived from Old English swan  akin to the German Schwan and Dutch zwaan and Swedis...
The word swan is derived from Old English swan, akin to the German Schwan and Dutch zwaan and Swedish svan, in turn derived from Indo-European root swen (to sound, to sing).
The town is known for its four Bs — boots, beer, brushes and Baptists. There are certainly many churches. This church is located directly onto the pavement of a narrow, winding street.
One of Chesham s churches  this one is on the edge of a street
One of Chesham's churches, this one is on the edge of a street
This second church is more traditional, located on one of the town's several steep hills.
A second church in Chesham
A second church in Chesham
The church has a charming vicarage, similar to the types that might feature in a murder mystery movie.
Chesham s vicarage  looking like an ideal setting for an Agatha Christie murder mystery!
Chesham's vicarage, looking like an ideal setting for an Agatha Christie murder mystery!
There are also many dainty cottages.
A row of charming cotages
A row of charming cotages
And interesting walkways.
A bridge leading to one of Chesham s open spaces
A bridge leading to one of Chesham's open spaces
These various features help shape Chesham and characterize the 'Englishness' of the town. For those interested in history or who like plenty of parks and open spaces, then Chesham is well worth a visit.
More about chesham, market town, English village, english town, Chiltern Hills
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