Our History

The Elgiva Theatre & Cinema

Chesham is a market town in the Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire. It is located 11 miles south-east of the county town of Aylesbury. Chesham is also a civic parish designated a town council within Chiltern district. It is situated in the Chess Valley and surrounded by farmland, as well as being bordered on one side by Amersham and Chesham Bois. The earliest records of Chesham as a settlement are from the second half of the 10th century, although there is archaeological evidence of people in the area from around 8,000 BC. Henry III granted the town a royal charter for a weekly market in 1257.

Contrary to popular belief, the town is not named after the river (Chess): rather, the river is named after the town. The first recorded reference to Chesham is under the Old English name ‘Caesteleshamm’ meaning “the river-meadow at the pile of stones”.

The Elgiva Hall opened on its original location in 1976. In 1998, having made way for an enlarged supermarket development the New Elgiva was rebuilt as a purpose-built theatre and cinema on its current site, with the official reopening performed by Danny La Rue!

Now rebranded, The Elgiva is a 300 seated / 400 standing capacity theatre, with a digital cinema and is owned and managed by Chesham Town Council. The Elgiva presents a wide-ranging programme of professional and amateur productions, top comedy, musicals, ballet/dance, one night shows, a professional pantomime, an eclectic range of movies, exhibitions, weddings and other public and private events.

The Elgiva is named after Lady Elgiva, wife of Saxon King Edwy and the daughter of Ethelgiva (murdered during the constitutional crisis of 957-8), she was sister to Ethelwerd (who wrote the Latin Chronicle). Lady Elgiva created the first record of Chesham in bequeathing her estate of ‘Caesteleshamm’ to the abbey at Abingdon in 970 AD and concise studies place her life and actions within the context of Saxon England and reveals the importance of her legacy for the history of Buckinghamshire and, in particular, Chesham.