PUBLISHED: 13:06 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:18 20 February 2013
Chilterns chic, plus quirky and unique, equals a great day's shopping, says Danusia Hutson...
So why is Old Amersham worth a visit?
It's an oasis of peace, charm and character. Medieval timbered buildings with chocolate-box gardens and courtyards line the main shopping area in High Street, Market Square, Broadway and Whielden Street, with a perfect mix of chic shops, bijoux restaurants, ancient inns, a church, museum, and the Market Hall. And of course it is one of the top three in the UK's Richest Towns List, according to the Daily Telegraph.
How do we get there?
From the M25, take Junction 18 sign-posted Amersham, Chorley Wood. From the M40, take Junction 2, sign-posted Beaconsfield, Amersham. From M1, Junction 8, then towards A41 (M).
What will we find?
Everything the fashion-conscious could ask for, complete with accessories and bespoke items, catering for all occasions from the Royal Garden Party to civic and social diary events as well as weddings, business, holidays and country pursuits. You will also find excellent and unusual items for the home. There's plenty of choice for a relaxed lunch or afternoon tea. Plus you won't hear any loud pop music.
So where do we park?
Along the High Street or go into the Pay and Display car park. Tesco has an enormous parking area, and you can always do a bit of last-minute shopping there to entitle you to free parking!
If we're looking for fashion?
It's called the Ladies Fashion High Street for a reason. The High Street joins Market Square and then The Broadway to create one long heavenly shopping avenue set in quirky, beamed, stylish and beautifully laid out settings: Paul Costelloe , Chattertons (Pure Therapy, Juicy Couture, DKNY, Ghost), Laura (classic clothes), Fyne Things (Gerry Weber, Oui), Spirit of the Andes (Alpaca and Pima, accessories from Peru and Bolivia), rebranded and refitted Phase 8, East, and recently opened Fenn, Wright, Manson. The only shoe shop is Primrose Oliver but the range is so good you're bound to find what you need; the only dedicated handbag shop is Amici but many of the other shops do stock a selection. To complete the outfit, whether it's a tiara, necklace or bracelet, Daewe Pearl and Jade Jewellery will create unique traditional, modern or futuristic pieces from freshwater pearls, with jade and semi-precious stone, to your own design.
The Jewellery Workshop on the corner of Market Square takes commissions and has a stunning range of ready to wear designs created from precious metals and diamonds, as well as elegant dress watches.
Finally, there's Penhaligons, where you are surrounded by an aura of luxury, from aristocratic scents in silver bottles to covetable vanity cases.
And for the home?
If you are a fan of Property Ladder, you will recognise Enlightenment by Design, Forge End, from a couple of recent programmes. The store has just become a distributor for Spanish designers Estiluz, which to date has only been available in Fulham Road and Kings Road; and there's also a shade-making service if you want to match wallpaper or fabric.
Su Chases Interiors is full of ideas for the home, as well as gifts, and there's an array of fabrics and samples to pore over.
Liz Quilter's is a treasure trove for country furniture, decorative items and antiques, and in Market Walk, you'll find Trevor Richardson Fine Art and Antique Boutique, which specialises in silver from Georgian to early 20th century.
We also recommend
Marion at Butterfly, who will make sure you are wearing the most appropriate underwear and swimwear, is also a specialist in cotton nightwear and a Hanro stockist. If you are into country pursuits, then a visit to Orvis is highly recommended, although a fire in June at a neighbouring property means that it's closed for a while. In the meantime, keen sportswomen will find Beautifully Active in Whielden Street hard to resist. Pentangle Studio in the High Street is an Aladdin's Cave for children's fashions, fancy dress, wooden painted furniture and toys and gifts.
And for light refreshment?
The newest place is Seasons Café-Deli, where you can enjoy a Hot Day Salad, a light lunch or afternoon tea. They specialise in local produce, including beer, and have tempting biscuits and breads to take away too. Look up the tiny cobbled alleyways and you'll spot tables and chairs set out for alfresco lunches and teas. Try Gilbeys for a super lunch, or The Crown, where refurbishment work will be completed by mid-August.