The Drakes’ progress

Find out about the fam­ily who shaped Old Amer­sham

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NOSTALGIA - by Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Camil­la_Good­man

We have so many vis­i­tors over the sum­mer... we want to help them to un­der­stand why Old Amer­sham is the way it is

THE Monty Python film, Life of Brian, fa­mously asked, ‘what have the Ro­mans ever done for us?’

The same ques­tion could be asked of the Drake fam­ily in Amer­sham.

The fam­ily left its mark on the town from the mid-17th cen­tury, through the 18th and 19th cen­turies and into the 20th.

The fam­ily is still re­spon­si­ble for the an­nual fair in Septem­ber.

The Amer­sham So­ci­ety has pro­duced house his­to­ries, which tell the story of the Drake/ Tyr­whitt-Drake in­flu­ence on Old Amer­sham.

It in­cludes the story of how the fam­ily bought up most of the houses in the town so they could con­trol par­lia­men­tary elec­tions and how they sys­tem­at­i­cally added brick frontages to the tim­ber-framed build­ings to make them look ‘Ge­or­gian.’

There are in­ter­est­ing lit­tle sto­ries: about the town black­smith be­ing called out to Drakes’ Alms-houses; another ex­plain­ing why house num­bers can still be found on the in­side of some front doors; and the mem­ber of the Drake fam­ily who had a seizure and died on his wed­ding day – you have to go into the Drake Chapel in St Mary’s Church for that one.

The Amer­sham So­ci­ety has de­vised a Her­itage Quiz to en­cour­age vis­i­tors and res­i­dents to read the in­for­ma­tion dis­played in house win­dows and some of the in­for­ma­tion dis­played un­der the Mar­ket Hall and else­where.

The Amer­sham So­ci­ety will award book prizes for win­ning en­tries from chil­dren and adults.

Chair­man of the Amer­sham So­ci­ety Martin Pounce said: “Nor­mally, the house his­to­ries are dis­played on the days lead­ing up to Her­itage Day, but there is too much to see on that day, so we de­cided to dis­play them for longer.

“We have so many vis­i­tors over the sum­mer months who ad­mire our won­der­ful town and we want to help them un­der­stand why Old Amer­sham is the way it is. In­for­ma­tion in house win­dows al­lows them to pick up pieces of in­ter­est­ing in­for­ma­tion. If they com­plete the quiz, the in­di­vid­ual pieces will fit to­gether to re­veal the fas­ci­nat­ing story of Tyr­whitt-Drake in­flu­ence on Old Amer­sham.”

The quiz leaflets can be ob­tained from Amer­sham Mu­seum, Amer­sham Li­brary, St Mary’s Church and Amer­sham Town Coun­cil Of­fices.

The quiz is run­ning from Au­gust 20 to Septem­ber 25.

The Amer­sham Mu­seum has agreed to be the col­lec­tion point for com­pleted quiz en­tries.

Prizes awarded will be ap­pro­pri­ate to the age of the en­trant and will in­clude a set of Hor­ri­ble His­to­ries for chil­dren and Ju­lian Hunt’s, His­tory of Amer­sham for adults.

Full com­pe­ti­tion rules are avail­able on the Amer­sham So­ci­ety web­site at www. amer­sham­so­ci­ety.org.

Re­mem­bered: The Memo­rial of Moun­tague (sic) Gar­rard Drake

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