New book provides fascinating insight into Amersham in the 1940s
Although the independent Amersham Museum is a community-centred host of lively events for
the young and old, it also contains an interesting archive of documents and ephemera relating
to people and places in Amersham.
Some years ago during a routine audit of the document collection a handwritten journal was
discovered written by a local resident. The journal had been donated by a lady in Norfolk who
had found it in the drawer of a piece of furniture she bought at auction. The museum is very
grateful that she did not just throw it away, but thought to offer it for the collection.
The name of the journal’s writer was evident from the correspondence placed within the pages
of the journal, and it matched the name of an author of a book in the museum’s library. The
writer was Mabel Richmond Brailsford, a writer of historical biographies of religious
personalities, such as William Penn and John Wesley.
Thanks to a research volunteer transcribing the journal and a volunteer typographer designing
the book, this journal has now been published by the museum to enable everyone to learn at
first-hand about life on the homefront during World War Two. Within the journal are 40,000
words of wonderful stories of Amersham residents, descriptions of war-torn London, tales of
national personalities, the trials of providing a home for bombed-out Londoners and general
uninformed gossip. The well-educated writer splatters her entries with French, Italian, German
and Latin phrases. She writes with intelligence and wit, but still displays her prejudices,
admiration for her favourites and an undercurrent of cultural snobbery. This lucid and
entertaining account of her thoughts and descriptions of events and people give us a vivid
account of life in Amersham during World War Two.
As well as the journal, the book includes a biography of the author, researched in archives in
Manchester and Ilfracombe; a bibliography of her published work; and mini biographies of the
150 people and places contained within the journal. It is an exciting new addition to the
understanding of the deprivations and conditions endured on the homefront during world war
Copies are available from the publisher, Amersham Museum, for £10 each. Proceeds will
support the museum’s development project into the neighbouring building.
Entry is £2.50 per adult and under 16s are free.
The Museum is open March to August Thursday – Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday afternoons
2pm – 4.30pm The Museum is also open from 10-4.30pm on Saturdays.
There are guided walks of the town every Sunday at 2.30pm April to August. The walk lasts an
hour and a half and costs £2 per adult with under 16s free. Martyrs walks to the martyrs
memorial are led by guides in Tudor costume on the last Saturday of the month at 2.30pm,
April to September. The martyrs walks last two hours and a quarter and cost £2 per adult with
under 16s free.
The Museum is located at 49 High Street, Old Amersham, HP7 0DP. There is free parking on
the High Street. The nearest car park is located just off the Broadway, about 350m from the