Although the Amersham Society started originally as a historical society, very soon it became clear that it needed to deal with preservation of old buildings, signs, monuments, footpaths in and around the Town. One of the first heritage projects initiated and supported by the Society was a restoration of the Martyrs’ Memorial and its site in the early 1960s.
The project was carried out in close collaboration with the Protestant Alliance, the organisation which erected the Monument in 1931 and owned it.
Extracts from the Society’s Minute Book below show the chain of events leading to the successful restoration.
28 Jun 1961, Annual General Meeting:
A short discussion then followed in the course of which the Society’s attention was drawn to the neglected condition of the Martyrs’ Memorial. The Chairman [& Curator Mr E. Bridgstock Choat] undertook to see what the authority responsible for the Memorial (thought to be the Protestant Alliance) should be approached & see if something could be done to restore the Memorial and maintain it.
4 Sep 1961, Committee Meeting:
Wednesday Sep 20th. An illustrated talk by the the Rev. A.G. Ashdown of the Protestant Alliance on “The Amersham Martyrs”. The Chair to be taken by the Rev. A.N. Sears, the Baptist Minister at Amersham. It was further agreed that there should be a silver collection at the meeting & the proceeds devoted to the renovation of the Martyrs’ Memorial & site of same after deducting expenses for hire of hall etc.
2 Oct 1961, Committee Meeting:
Matters arising out of the Martyrs’ Memorial Lecture. The Committee were unanimous in stating that this was not a happy lecture and criticised the manner in which the Rev. Ashdown dealt with the subject. Mr Ruck [the Society’s Treasurer] informed the Committee that the sum of £16.13.0 had been collected towards the restoration of the Memorial and its site, and after deduction of expenses £1.7.6, the sum of £15.5.6 was due to be remitted to the Protestant Alliance. After discussion, it was agreed that Mr Ruck should write to the Rev. Ashdown for the name and address of the Treasurer of the Protestant Alliance in order that a cheque could be forwarded to him. It was further agreed that our Chairman, Mr Choat, should represent the Amersham Society on the Committee which the Rev. Sears if forming to deal with the necessary work of restoring the Memorial, but it was noted that so far nothing had been heard of how the Rev. Sears was progressing with getting such a Committee together, and that if no information was forthcoming by our next Committee Meeting on Nov 6 the Committee would have to consider what further step should be taken to get the matter going.
6 Nov 1961, Committee Meeting:
The Chairman read letters from the Rev. A.G. Ashdown dated 16 & 21 Oct to the Committee, and after discussion it was agreed the matter should be raised again at the next Committee Meeting, and if, by then, the work of restoration had not been commenced, the Committee should consider what action could be taken to get things moving.
5 Feb 1962, Committee Meeting:
The Chairman drew attention to the Martyrs’ Memorial, and the Secretary [Miss A. Wallis] was instructed to write to the Rev. Ashdown, acting Secretary of the Protestant Alliance, asking him when the work of putting the Memorial in order would be commenced.
12 Mar 1962, Committee Meeting:
The Secretary reported that she had written to the Rev. Ashdown, Organising Secretary of the Protestant Alliance, as instructed, pointing out that the Society was constantly being asked by Members when the work of restoration of the Memorial was going to proceed. On 23 Feb a telephone call to the Secretary was made by the Rev. Ashdown that he understood from his farmer friend that the work had been put in hand and would proceed as labour & weather permitted. He himself intended to collect and rewrite the notice board directing visitors to the site, and he hoped the Memorial would be in good order for the public meeting they hoped to hold in the late spring.
2 Apr 1962, Committee Meeting:
A letter from the Rev. A.G. Ashdown, Organising Secretary of the Protestant Alliance, informing the Society that hedge and ground around the Martyrs’ Memorial had been cut & cleared up, and that the notice board was being repaired and re-lettered. When the work was completed it was hoped the Society would take part. The Secretary was instructed to send a letter of thanks to the Rev. Ashdown.
2 Jul 1962, Committee Meeting:
The Chairman reported that he had had a conversation over the telephone with the Rev. Ashdown, the Organising Secretary of the Protestant Alliance – the Trustees of the Martyrs’ Memorial – that the site having been cleaned up and cleared of debris, they had obtained an estimate from a High Wycombe firm to renovate the stone and renew the lettering at a cost to be between £65 and £90. The Protestant Alliance had some money in hand and therefore had decided to proceed with the work. Further they were arranging to hold a Memorial Service on the site on Sat Jul 28 at which a collection would be made. Full details would be advertised in the local press. Mr Ruck kindly undertook to write to those persons who had contributed so generously to the Amersham Society fund on behalf of this work.
3 Sep 1962, Committee Meeting:
The Chairman read a letter from the Rev. Ashdown thanking the Amersham Society for their valuable assistance in getting Memorial and its site renovated and cleared up. The Obelisk having been cleaned and re-lettered, undergrowth cleared from the site, and boundary hedge cut down and re-layered at a total cost of about £70. Of this amount £30 had been contributed, leaving a balance of £40 (approximately) which the Rev. Ashdown was hopeful wold be forthcoming. He was sending the Secretary some copies of the “English Churchman” giving an account of the Memorial and its restoration in the hope that she would be able to distribute them to people interested in the work. Mr Ruck read letters from several people living a distance away who had generously contributed in response to the publicity given to the matters by the Society, and to whom he had written giving them details of the meeting held at the Memorial on Jul 28 last.
16 Oct 1956 – 4 Feb 1964