Amersham is a market town 27 miles north west of London, in the Chiltern Hills, England. It is part of the London commuter belt.
The Amersham Workhouse was situated on the site of Amersham Hospital.
The Union Workhouse was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott who also designed the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park and St Pancras Station in London. It was built in 1838 and served a number of local parishes and provided basic care of the elderly and those unable to work.
It was built following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 which obliged parishes to form a "union" to build a workhouse. The Amersham Union included the parishes of Chesham, Beaconsfield, the Chalfonts and Penn. Typically, a Union Workhouse was built in the largest town of the Union. In Amersham’s case this should have been Chesham, but Amersham was chosen.
The Union Workhouse replaced the many work houses around the parishes, with the "inmates" being moved from their local towns, sometimes leaving them for the first time in their lives. Owing to the location of the "union" Workhouse, Whielden Street
was for a time known as Union Street. The name reverted to Whielden Street
(named after a previous land owner) in 1930 when Bucks County Council took over the site replacing the Union. Life in the Union Workhouse was tough, the inmates having to wear uniforms, work hard and were forced to church on Sundays. Men, women and children were housed in separate wards. There was also an infirmary and tramps and vagrants wards.
It was originally the Workhouse for the Amersham Union of Parishes and then became Amersham Hospital.
The building is now Gilbert Scott Court.
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Union Workhouse, Amersham (1910)
George Ward/Amersham Museum
Amersham is split into two distinct areas: Old Amersham
, set in the valley of the River Misbourne, which contains the 13th century parish church of St. Mary's and several old pubs and coaching inns; and Amersham-on-the-Hill
, which grew rapidly around the railway station in the early part of the 20th century.
Records date back to pre-Anglo-Saxon times, when it was known as Egmondesham
In 1200 Geoffrey, Earl of Essex obtained a charter for Amersham allowing him to hold a Friday market and a fair on 7 and 8 September. In 1613 a new charter was granted to Edward, Earl of Bedford, changing the market day to Tuesday and establishing a statute fair on 19 September.
The area of the town now known as Amersham on the Hill was referred to as Amersham Common until after the arrival of the Metropolitan Line in 1892. After this date growth of the new area of the town gradually accelerated, with much work being done by the architect John Kennard). It is now known locally as the Top Town
Amersham is linked to London by the Metropolitan Line of London Underground and is the last station on the Metropolitan main line. Much of this line is shared with the mainline railway service, which runs from Marylebone to Aylesbury.
The construction of the railway line was controversial at the time and objections from local landowners prevented its construction until 1892.