British Military & Criminal History:
1900 to 1999.
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This page is concerned with Chesham War Memorial, which commemorates the town's citizens who lost their lives during both World Wars.
Chesham War Memorial (Stephen Stratford 2002)
The first description of Chesham, then called Cestresham or Cestreham, is in the Domesday Book, William the Conqueror’s great survey of 1086. Ownership was already subdivided. The principal manor, later called Chesham Higham, had been granted by William to Hugh de Bolbec, whose castle was at Whitchurch, north of Aylesbury. His lands passed by marriage to the de Veres, Earls of Oxford.
Chesham’s strategic position near the head-waters of the Chess led to its growth from a village into a market, craft, and service centre. (Among early retailers was the Mad Hatter.) Cattle and sheep were reared on the Chiltern slopes; watercress beds were laid out by the riverside, and it is said that grapes were cultivated on the south-facing terraces above the town. The extensive Chiltern beechwoods provided timber for wood turning.
During the 16th-18th centuries Wycombe developed as the furniture town, but Chesham became the centre for making brushes, wooden shovels, spoons, yokes, sieves and other articles of woodware. It was also well known for its boots and shoes and for its beer; at one time Chesham had three breweries.
The growth of local industry can be associated with a change in religious beliefs. Chesham, in common with other towns in the Chiltern Hundreds, became a centre for dissent. Lollardy, which originated in Oxford, spread into the Chilterns before the Reformation and Chesham had its martyr, Thomas Harding, who was burnt at White Hill in 1532.
The Soldier atop Chesham War Memorial (Stephen Stratford 2002)
First World War
The First World War names are listed on plaques located on either face of the memorial's base.
Click here to view the list of First World War names.
Second World War
The Second World War names are listed on plaques located on the pillars located on either side of the memorial.
Click here to view the list of Second World War names.