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Elmodesham House

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 6 months ago


42 High Street, Amersham, formerly Woodville House now Elmodesham House

Location – south side of High Street, west of Market Hall



Construction  – Built c.1715, Queen Anne style, brick with sash windows. The house was extended on the west side and the front refaced with brick in 1907.  Following the sale of the house in 1986, it was converted into 12 flats and mews houses and 21 new houses were built in the old walled garden. During the work a painted ceiling was discovered, which has been attributed to James Thornhill who died in 1734.


History of the building

Originally built for Charles Eeles, his son Isaac sold the house in 1786 to James Rumsey, a surgeon.  After Rumsey’s death in 1824, the house was empty until 1829 when it was leased to the Rev. Ebeneezer West, who was a Baptist minister. He established ‘The Academy for the Sons of Liberal Gentlemen’ in the house. This school became known as Amersham Hall and attracted pupils from all over the country. A range of classrooms were added to the west side of the yard at the rear but extra space was soon required, as by 1858 there were 54 boarders in addition to day boys at the school. In 1861 the school moved to new premises in Caversham near Reading where it remained until it closed in 1896.


After the school left, the house was sold to Thomas Morton and then leased to John Cheese for £100 pounds per year. He later bought the house for £1,900 and renamed it Woodville House.



Photograph of the drawing room Photograph of the dining room


Photographs of the drawing room and dining room taken by George Ward when the Cheese family lived there.


On 1st January, 1907 the house was purchased by Major James Stephen for the sum of £2,800. He extended the house and renamed it Elmodesham House. After his death in 1909, his son tried to sell the house. It eventually sold in 1912, at the reduced price of £1,900, to Sir Arthur Cochrane. The last family to occupy the entire house was Ernest and Florence Matthews and their three children, who lived there between 1925 and 1930. They had previously lived at Little Shardeloes as Mrs Matthews was the daughter of Squire Drake of Shardeloes.


The house was purchased in 1931 by Amersham Rural District Council. They converted it for use as offices, and built a new Council Chamber, which was later used as a Court Room. They moved to the new Chiltern District Council Offices in Amersham on the Hill in 1986, after they combined with Chesham Urban District Council.


The house was converted into flats but still retains many of its original features, including the painted ceiling, which is attributed to James Thornhill.


See also further Elmodesham House photographs.



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