THE VILLAGE AND CRICKET TEAM OF CHESHAM BOIS
A BRIEF HISTORY
Chesham Bois is situated between Chesham and Amersham and the cricket ground is on the common between North Road and South Road. Recognition of Chesham Bois as a settlement separate from Chesham dates back to the time of the Domes Day Book, 1086.
The village was a Saxon manor given by William the Conqueror to his half brother Odo, the Bishop of Bayeaux. Contrary to popular belief the village does not take its name from the French word for wood, despite having a Bois Wood and a Great Bois Wood within the village boundaries.
During the reign of King John the manor came into the hands of William du Bois (different spellings have it as du Boyes or de Bosco) a Norman family.
William du Bois built a manor house around 1213 with a family chapel near by. The house was demolished in 1812 but the chapel forms the chancel of the present church of St. Leonard.
Today Chesham Bois has been physically absorbed into the town of Amersham, but villagers still retain a sense of separate identity. There is a fight to keep it as a village, but as the village grows it does change, but it still seems to keep its rural character.
Kingfishers and wild ducks still colour the village pond, situated along North Road close to the cricket ground, from time to time. The pond was formed by the digging of clay for bricks. (circa 1716-1735)
In the 1980’s, while doing repair work on the cricket square, concrete foundations were found but not investigated as it would have meant digging up a large area of the square. Could these have been the remains of a kiln used in the brick making process?
The common provides the ideal setting for typical village cricket, the ground being completely enclosed by large trees and shrubbery. When in full bloom these provide a most agreeable background to while away the summer hours in the pursuit of cricket. Many opposing teams comment on the attraction of playing in this setting.
The generally accepted date of formation of the Chesham Bois Cricket Club is 1880, though no proof has yet been found. Cricket has been played on Bois Common at North Road since 1891 with the inevitable breaks for the two World Wars. Matches before this date were played on The Moor/Lower Bois area.
Definite verbal conformation from old players and local villagers in the early 1960’s of a team playing on the common prior to 1900 was given to then club members.
In 1982 a few club members were discussing the history and decided to do something positive and leave something for future players to look back at, these pages being the result of all their labours.
CHESHAM BOIS C.C. ON THE MOOR 1880 – 1890
Further research in 2011 has shown that the newspaper extracts for the early 1800’s that refer to Chesham Bois Common were actually played on Chesham Moor.
Both the Upper and Lower Moor areas were part of the Chesham Bois parish in the early 1800’s with the River Chess providing a natural boundary to the parish. However, both of these areas would have been unsuitable for serious cricket matches due to the nature of the ground, most certainly wet and swampy due to both areas being enclosed by the River Chess and multiple water cress beds within the area, a thriving local industry in the 1800’s. Fields the other side of the water cress beds, in the area next to Bois Moor Road known as Lower Bois, may have provided suitable areas for the playing of sport, this area was also referred to as The Moor.
A photograph from 1888 shows the direction of the railway line which obviously crosses the area where cricket matches could possibly have been played.
A verbal confirmation of cricket being played in the field(s) behind the present day swimming pool area was obtained in April 2012 from Mr. Rodney Sedgwick, a gentleman who has been a long term resident of Chesham, this is most probably the Hodds Wood Road / Millfields housing area. However no documental proof is available at present. Therefore the early Chesham Bois C.C. matches, from the estimated formation of the club in 1880 until the late1880’s, were probably played on Lower Bois / The Moor and not Chesham Bois Common at North Road.
Obviously the opening of the railway in 1889 would have meant that the club would have had to move their ground, i.e. to Bois Common (North Road), to continue playing cricket. For a number of years after Chesham Bois C.C. moved to Bois Common other teams continued to play at various locations on The Moor.
These Chesham Bois Parish boundaries were in place until 1934 when they passed on to Chesham Council and new boundaries were established.
Another theory is that with Chesham Bois Manor being in the area the fielded area mentioned previously may have been known locally as Chesham Bois Common.