#56: Chesham – 25/06/2019

Geographically, I believe this end of the Metropolitan line is the most northerly of all the Tfl termini at grid reference 51°42’18.9″N 0°36’39.9″W. Other contenders are Cheshunt and Epping but Chesham just pips them by a whisker.

The Station

The journey north is a pleasant one and as the train leaves the London boundary, it meanders through Hertfordshire and into Buckinghamshire passing through Chorleywood and Chalfont & Latimer before reaching the end into what I can best describe as a model station. I’m taken back to a train set of my youth with model buildings glued together from Airfix kits and everything is beautifully manicured and cared for.

The station is very idyllic, proudly displaying its well tendered garden, and the station retains the ambience of the glorious railway days of steam. The signal box now a decorative piece, no longer working the leavers to change the points or signals which are now controlled by modern electronics.

The Town

Chesham is a delightfully quaint market town, and quintessentially English, and Chesham Town Council has done much to promote these qualities. Outside the Town Hall there’s a brief historical display, part of which reads ‘…In 1066 Chesham was worth precisely 70 shillings and was one of the largest parishes in the British Isles. It was one of the first places to record its population’s births, marriages and deaths and in 1257 the Earl of Oxford, as Lord of the Manor, was granted a charter to hold a weekly market and a three day fair in town…’

The main High Street, now pedestrianised, hosts a mix of shops, both national chain and many local independents, and much has been done to add colour to the town centre through many floral displays. 

The High Street also holds some surprises as there are cut-throughs to the ring road, which if you explore, reveal a myriad of small independent retailers and coffee shops. Although there is curiously one entrance I found which no longer has an open door.

The George and Dragon

Half way down the High Street stands this former coaching house where I meet Jay, the co-owner of Brothers BBQ & Grill. Jay is an enthusiastic young chef who explains he has recently taken over the catering at the pub and welcomes me into the second floor of the pub to show off his domain.

The pub is very much an ‘olde worlde’ beamed two storied building with creaky floorboards and paraphernalia of days gone by to create an ‘aged’ feel to the building, And the second floor has a ‘play room’ style with games to entertain all ages. Jay also introduces me to Jim, the landlord, who has just opened up and already serving his morning regulars. Nevertheless he is happy to spend a little time welcoming me into the pub and happy for me to take a series of pictures.

He’s also keen to share the story behind the ‘Trooper’ ale which sits dominantly at the bar and explains it was created by Iron Maiden and handcrafted by the Robinsons brewery in Cheshire. Although there is a slight difference of opinion with the brewery website which says it was ‘inspired by Iron Maiden’. Semantics eh!? Jim explains that one of the band members, Clive Burr the drummer I believe, also drank in the pub before his untimely death.

The surrounding area

A few minutes from the High Street, and I’m wandering around the back streets and enjoying the varied architecture such an historical market town has to offer: from traditional whitewashed cottages in Germain Street to The Bury, a Grade II listed building. This was once the Country house built for William Lowndes (1652-1724) who was Secretary to the Treasury in the reign of Queen Anne. The elaborate building is now a collection of offices and private businesses. 

St Mary’s church sits proudly in its own grounds adjacent to The Bury and there’s an arched door through the estate grounds into the churchyard, no doubt a private route used by William Lowndes and his family. The church sits prominently over the town and adjacent to Lowndes Park, a large open park with pond used by the community for relaxation, reflection and entertainment.

Heading back into town I cut through an underpass which has been transformed by murals ‘inspired by the Chilterns, and created by the young people of the Chilterns’. As I admire the colours of their artwork, I stop and talk with Adel, a local resident, who’s passing through the underpass and we share our mutual admiration of this work. too

Flora & fauna

I’ve touched on the town’s floral displays, but there are also colourful gardens and allotments too. The park’s flowers and wildlife also help to bring the town alive and here’s a selection of some of the colours I’ve enjoyed whilst here – thank you Chesham 

Picture of the Day

It’s been a difficult one this week to decide on my picture of the week, but I’m happy with this choice. This picture was taken by an underpass to the main road by the Library, and follows a sequence taken within the underpass of children’s murals to brighten a depressing cut through. I’ve kept a brief reference to this work in the picture to help put the picture in context. The steps are pretty uninspiring but I was drawn to the symmetry and colour of the yellow handrails and the somewhat leaf strewn stairs. I had a vision however that this could look striking in black and white.

I’d taken a few shots waiting for passers by to leave the area as I wanted a ‘clean shot’, so I had a few in the bag with the settings just right. Then thought it would make a better story by including someone on the steps and as I was about to leave, I saw this person just coming into view and quickly took them walking into frame. I didn’t want a full blown shot as I think it would have focused attention away from the object; that is a surprise waiting around the corner. 

I’ve applied a Google Photos ‘Vista’ filter to create a harsh and grainy black & white effect which I think gives the picture some depth. And curiously though, and this is a secondary feature, if you look closely at the central handrail and the joining ‘T’ metalwork, they look like a parade of faces in their own right, maybe guarding those walking through or the mural itself?!

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2000

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