Chesham gallery owner and local history publisher

An interview by Visit Chesham and Villages project

With upcoming Bucks Art Weeks … in the first of our interviews featuring key Chesham figures, we talk to Peter Hawkes. Peter runs The Good Earth Gallery in Chesham and will host seven artists for this year’s Bucks Art Weeks, and is a part of the event’s organising team. For over 30 years he has been a local historian, writer and publisher.

How did you start writing and publishing books about Chesham’s heritage?

I remember sitting with my dad when I was about 12 years old, being fascinated by the Book of Chesham, by Clive Birch. My family go back at least 14 generations in Chesham.

Then from 1994 to 2013 I designed and published Chesham Town Talk magazine. I was the Heritage editor and I wrote many local history articles.

Then in 2009, Keith Fletcher and I produced a book called Pubs of Chesham – we went to a different pub in Chesham every Friday lunchtime. He had a pint of beer and I had a Coke.

So to date I’ve published 30 books of which about 20 of them are about Chesham. In 2005 Ray East, collector of Chesham photographs, allowed me to buy his photographs from him when his eyesight began to fail. Ray had spent decades acquiring old photographs and I feel I’ve been able to give his work a safe and useful home.

Peter Hawkes at the entrance to The Good Earth Gallery

Peter Hawkes, outside the gallery with two of his local history books