100 years ago, there were two recorded restaurants in Chesham – both in Chesham Broadway – and these were described as ‘tea rooms’.
By the time we reached 2000, there were nine ‘coffee shops’ as opposed to restaurants such as Poppins and today we still have nine places where people can pop in for a coffee.
This coffee shop has been chosen, firstly because the premises have a varied history, and secondly because it is primarily for parents and children with a large stock of toys to keep youngsters amused.
Full of beans, 24 High Street
In the 1910/1920 period, these premises were a second hand furniture store run by Harry Webb, a noted cricketer who kept wicket for Chesham Cricket Club. In 1912, Mr Webb was sued by a customer who claimed that two mahogany book-cases he had bought from the shop were not, in fact, made of mahogany at all. The customer failed to appear in court and the case was dismissed.
In 1913, Mr Webb himself was fined for obstructing the High Street with three tables, a bedspread, an easy chair and three picture frames!
In the 1930s and 1940s, the downstairs of the premises was occupied by Sanders Bros, grocers, whilst upstairs the Chesham Building Society had their offices.
Sanders Bros Ltd was – in the 1920s – the UK’s largest chain of corn, flour, seed and general produce and had 154 branches in the south of England. They were also a major manufacturer and distributor of biscuits and a major importer of rice and spices.
By the 1950s, the grocers had gone and the shop was occupied by a jeweller and watchmaker called William Bower. Mr Bower came to Chesham from London in 1945 and set up his jewellery business at 24 High Street, which he ran until 1967 when Richard Chapman took it over.
Mr Bower also ran the Unicorn public house in Bois Moor Road (pictured below) between 1949 and 1955. The upstairs of the High Street property was occupied by an insurance broker called Cyril Goldsmith.
Richard Chapman came from Watford and already had 24 years experience in the jewellery trade when he took over 24 High Street. By the year 2000 the jewellery business had turned into a shop called The Treasure Chest which Mr Chapman ran concurrently with his second shop in The Broadway called Cameo House.
Around 2010, the premises became a children’s play room called The Stay & Play and has now been renamed “Full of Beans”.
View more shops on Chesham’s High Street
Thank you to the following authors for their contribution:
A History of Chesham Shops: Gwyneth Bradley, Anne Crabbe, Tony Eustace, Keith Fletcher, Pat Kent, Frank Pearce, Eleanor Phillips and Vanessa Worship
A History of Chesham Shops Volume 2: Anne Crabbe, Tony Eustace, Keith Fletcher, Pat Kent, Eleanor Phillips and Vanessa Worship
Pubs of Chesham & Villages: Ray East, Keith Fletcher and Peter Hawkes
Chesham – the Origin of the Town’s Services: Eleanor Phillips and Keith Fletcher
More Tales of Old Chesham: George Piggin
The Story of John Brazil: Jean Archer
Photographs: courtesy of Chesham Heritage.