The Chequers, Amersham
During the sixteenth several martyrs were burned in Amersham on charges of heresy and the strong conviction of their beliefs. The Chequers at 51 London Road, which dates from the 15th century had a possible involvement with these sad deaths and it is speculated that the long reputed haunting of the inn may be related to them.
Guy Lyon Playfair had the following to say about The Chequers in his excellent ‘Haunted Pub Guide’ (1985) ‘The haunting of this fifteenth-century inn was real enough to persuade one former landlord to move out. The man in question, a former private detective, could not take any more of the ‘weird shrieking screams’ that disturbed his family night after night. Then one of his daughters reported seeing a white, hooded figure in her bedroom. This, he decided was a case he could not solve. Another cloaked figure, a male one this time was spotted by a barman in 1971. The locals reckoned this to be Mr Osman, a warder who had accompanied a group of seven religious martyrs the night before they were burned at the stake. Subsequent tenants have been convinced that there is a ghost of some kind around, but there is no general agreement as to whom it might represent.’
Other reported experiences have included dogs becoming agitated and sudden drops in temperature. The haunting of The Chequers dates back decades at least with exorcisms being performed in 1953, 1963 and again in 1982. A grey woman is also said to haunt the exterior of the pub.
The Chequers is in part of Amersham known as Bury End and it is this area that the Lollard Martyrs were burned to death. Tradition blames these burnings as the reason that crops would not thrive here but the truth apparently has more to do with an abnormal formation of flints in the soil.
The above quote from the Haunted Pub Guide refers to the tradition that seven martyrs were held in The Chequers prior to their execution. These are sometimes named as William Tylsworth, John Scrivener, Thomas Barnard, James Morden, Robert Rave, Thomas Holmes and Joan Norman and the date, 1521. William Tylsworth was actually martyred in 1506 whilst Morden and Barnard may have been executed in 1522. A British Pathe film from 1964 entitled “Amersham. Dig That Ghost” refers to just three martyrs being held in the building and shows the memorial to them.
The paranormal investigator and author Jack Hallam suggested that the ghost of Joan Clerke, daughter of William Tylsworth may be responsible for the screaming that has been heard.
According to the 16th century Foxes Book of Martyrs Joan Clerke was forced to light the fire on which her father was martyred ‘…in the days of King Henry the Seventh, A. D. 1506, in the diocese of Lincoln in Buckinghamshire, (William Smith being bishop of the same diocese,) one William Tylsworth was burned in Amersham, in a close called Stanley, about sixty years ago. At which time one Joan Clerke, being a married woman, which was the only daughter of the said William Tylsworth and a faithful woman, was compelled with her own hands to set fire to her dear father; and at the same time her husband, John Clerke, did penance at her father’s burning, and bare a faggot, as did also;
Bobert Bartlet, Richard Bartlet, John Bartlet, Thomas Harding and his wife, Henry Harding, Richard Harding, Robert Harding, John Milsent and his wife, William White, John Mumbe and his wife, Richard Bennet, Roger Bennet, John Fip, William Grinder, Thomas Homes, Yomand Dorman, William Scrivener, John Scrivener, Thomas Chase and John Cracher.
All these bare faggots, and afterward were compelled to wear certain badges, and went abroad to certain towns to do penance, as to Buckingham, Aylesbury, and other towns more.