Thame shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||11,072 (parish, with Moreton) (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|- London||46.5 miles (75 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Henley (John Howell, Conservative)|
|Website||Thame Town Council|
Thame // is a market town and civil parish in Oxfordshire, about 9 miles (14 km) east of the city of Oxford and 7 miles (11 km) southwest of the Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury. It derives its toponym from the River Thame which flows past the north side of the town.
Abbey, parish church and prebendal
Thame Abbey was founded in 1138 for the Cistercian Order: the abbey church was consecrated in 1145. In the 16th century Dissolution of the Monasteries the abbey was suppressed and the church demolished. Thame Park (the house) was built on the site, incorporating parts of the abbey including the early-16th-century abbot's house. Its interior is one of the earliest examples of the Italian Renaissance in England. A Georgian west wing was added in the 18th century. In about 1840 parts of the foundations of the abbey church were excavated: it was 77 yards (70 m) long and 23 yards (21 m) wide, with a Lady Chapel extending a further 15 yards (14 m) at the east end.
The earliest feature of the Church of England parish church of Mary the Virgin is the 12th-century base of the font. The font's octagonal bowl was re-cut in the 13th century. The present church is a cruciform building that was built in the 13th century. The chancel is Early English Gothic and was built in about 1220, with six lancet windows in its north wall and presumably a similar arrangement in the south wall. It was twice altered in the next few decades: a three-light plate tracery window was inserted in its north wall in the mid-13th century and the five-light east window with geometrical tracery was inserted in about 1280. Whatever lancet windows may have been in the chancel south wall were replaced with three two-light Decorated Gothic windows with reticulated tracery, and a double piscina was added at the same time.
The transepts and tower arches are also early 13th century. The nave has five-bay north and south aisles whose arcades were built in about 1260. The aisles were widened in the 14th century, when they acquired their Decorated Gothic windows and doors. The Decorated Gothic south porch has two storeys and a two-bay quadripartite vault.
The Perpendicular Gothic clerestory is 14th or early 15th century. In the 15th century the tower piers were strengthened and the two upper stages of the tower were built. In 1442 the north transept was rebuilt with five-light Perpendicular Gothic north and east windows with panel tracery. At about the same time the south transept acquired similar windows and was extended eastwards to form a chapel with a 15th-century piscina. The Perpendicular Gothic nave west window was inserted in 1672–73, making it an example of Gothic survival. In 1838 the north aisle north wall was rebuilt under the direction of George Wilkinson.
The Prebendal House is known to have existed by 1234, The Early English Gothic chapel was built in about 1250. The solar is also 13th-century but was enlarged in the 14th, when the present crown-post roof was added. The rest of the Prebendal House dates is 15th centuries. The hall is 14th-century in plan but was later divided, and one part now has a fine 15th-century roof. In 1661 the antiquary Anthony Wood reported that the house was ruinous, and early in the 19th century the remains were in use as a farmhouse and barns. It was restored in 1836. The Prebendal House was the home of singer/songwriter, the late Robin Gibb and his wife Dwina from 1984, and Gibb is buried in the churchyard.
Social and economic history
In 1550 the courtier John Williams, 1st Baron Williams of Thame built the almshouses in Church Lane. He died in 1559, and his will established the local grammar school. Its original building, completed in 1569, stands next to the almshouses. In 1880 the school moved to its current premises in Oxford Road. In 1971 it became a comprehensive school under the name Lord Williams's School.
The Civil War in the 1640s saw Thame occupied in turn by Royalists and by Parliamentarians. After the Battle of Chalgrove Field in 1643, Colonel John Hampden, who had been educated at the grammar school, died of his wounds at the house of Ezekiel Browne, later to become the Greyhound Inn. As of 2010[update] some of Hampden's descendants still live in the town.
The champion bare-knuckle boxer James Figg was born in Thame in 1684 and had his early prize-fights at the Greyhound Inn. In the 21st century the Greyhound Inn was renamed the James Figg and in April 2011 the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board unveiled a blue plaque there to commemorate him.
In the 18th century many of the buildings in the boat-shaped High Street were re-faced with modern facades built of locally produced salt glazed bricks. Late in the 18th century John Wesley preached in Thame. The congregation on that occasion was so large that the floor of the building gave way, and the crowd fell to the lower floor.
By 1813 Thame had a workhouse in Wellington Street. In 1826 John Boddington, a miller who had been the proprietor of Thame Mill, became master of the workhouse. In 1831 his son, also John Boddington, became a clerk at Strangeways Brewery in Manchester. A younger son, Henry Boddington, who had been born at Thame Mill in 1813, followed his brother and joined the same brewery in 1832. Henry became a partner in the business in 1847 and sole proprietor in 1853, after which its beers were called Boddingtons. In April 2011 the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board unveiled a blue plaque at the address of the former workhouse commemorating its association with Henry Boddington.
Thame Poor Law Union was established in 1835 and the following year a new workhouse designed by George Wilkinson was built on Oxford Road. In the 20th century the building became the premises of Rycotewood College of further education. In 2003 with two other colleges of further education to form Oxford and Cherwell College, now Oxford and Cherwell Valley College.
Thame railway station was opened in 1862 as the temporary terminus of an extension of the Wycombe Railway from High Wycombe. The extension was completed in 1864 when it reached Oxford. In 1963 British Railways withdrew passenger services between Princes Risborough and Oxford and closed Thame station, leaving Princes Risborough (7 miles) as the nearest passenger station until 1987 (see below) BR dismantled the track between Thame and Morris Cowley, but kept the line between Thame and Princes Risborough open for goods traffic to and from an oil depot in Thame.
In 1940 Willocks McKenzie, a local lorry driver, found a small hoard of late Mediaeval coins and rings beside the River Thame. The coins were ten groats and the rings were five ornate examples ranging from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The county Coroner declared them to be treasure trove and therefore Crown property. The Crown placed the hoard on permanent loan to the Ashmolean Museum. The most ornate ring was an ecclesiastical one incorporating a small reliquary. Its lid is decorated with a distinctive cross with two horizontal sections, similar to the Cross of Lorraine. Thame Town Council incorporated this cross into its town emblem.
In 1974 the M40 motorway was extended from High Wycombe to Chilworth Farm at Great Milton. Junction 7 at Milton Common is about 3 miles (5 km) southwest of Thame, giving the town a fast road link to London. In 1990 the M40 extension was completed, giving Thame a fast road link to Birmingham.
In 1987 British Rail opened Haddenham and Thame Parkway station at Haddenham, about 2 miles (3 km) northeast of Thame, on the Chiltern Main Line. Chiltern Railways now provides passenger services linking the railway station to High Wycombe, London Marylebone, Banbury and Birmingham Snow Hill. The station has a large car park, a taxi office, and regular buses into Thame.
In 1991 Thame oil depot closed, and BR dismantled the railway between Thame and Princes Risborough. Sustrans was allowed to re-use the former trackbed to create the Phoenix Trail which is part of National Cycle Network route 57. Reopening the rail line through Thame was an option considered by Chiltern Railways in their plan to open a direct rail route from London Marylebone to Oxford via Princes Risborough in 2015. The cost of reinstating bridges was considered prohibitive.
Thame has three primary schools: Barley Hill Primary School, John Hampden Primary School and St Joseph's Catholic Primary School. It has one county secondary school, Lord Williams's School.
Thame stages the Oxfordshire County and Thame Show, the largest one-day agricultural show in Britain. It used to be held on the third Thursday in September, the same day as the three-day Thame Fair opens in the town centre. On the day of the show local schools were closed. In 2010 the show was moved to the last Saturday in July. The organising committee have expressed a wish for the show to be a two-day event in the future.
In October a smaller fair is held in the parking area in Upper High Street. In June the Thame Festival is held, which includes a carnival through the main streets, a flower festival and a fete on the Southern Road recreation area. Peter Andre attended the Thame Carnival in 2011.
Thame also has a cadet force presence in the town. The Army Cadets and The Air Training Corps both have units in the town. 594(Thame) Air Training Corps was formed in 1990's. It is currently under the Command of Flt. Lt. Mike Kidley RAF VR(T)
Rail - Haddenham and Thame Parkway station - see above. Fastest London Marylebone trains take 36 minutes (2013).
Bus - Arriva 'Sapphire' route 280 operates up to every 20 minutes between Oxford (rail station) - Wheatley - Thame - Haddenham - Aylesbury. Additional irregular buses connect surrounding villages, such as Worminghall and Twyford, which is served by Arriva's 110 service.
Chinnor Rugby Club is based at Thame. Its first XV currently plays in National Division Three South. Thame United Football Club first team plays in Hellenic Football League Division One East Thame Town Cricket Club first eleven plays in Home Counties Premier Cricket League Division 2 West. Thame has a bowls club and a tennis club.
The Oxfordshire Golf Club is 1 mile (1.6 km) southwest of Thame. The course was designed by Rees Jones and has hosted tournaments including the Benson & Hedges International Open from 1996 until 1999.
Thame Kickboxing club part of the south East Academy are based in the sports center and have trained World Champions and Great British and European Champions.
Thame is twinned with the French town of Montesson & Sinaia in Romania
BBC actor, announcer, executive Harman Grisewood (1908–97) was brought up at the Prebendal House in the 1910s and 1920s. It had a resident Catholic priest, Father Randolph Traill, who served in its chapel. In his autobiography, One Thing at a Time (1968), he described an outing with his brother, nanny, nursemaid and pram, when they were stoned by villagers as they approached the Church of England parish church.
In the 1920s John Fothergill (1876–1957), author of An Innkeeper's Diary, was the innkeeper of the Spread Eagle. During his idiosyncratic occupancy many famous people came to stay, such as H. G. Wells.
The poet and playwright W. B. Yeats (1865–1939) lived in the town for a short period at Cuttle Brook House, 42 Lower High Street. His son was born there in 1921. A blue plaque commenmorating his period of residence was unveiled in 2011.
The violinist Alfredo Campoli (1906–91) was married at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in 1942 and retired to Thame in 1986. In April 2011 the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board unveiled a blue plaque at 39 North Street to commemorate him.
English film-maker and Internet personality Gavin Free (born 1988) known for his slow-motion cinematography work for films, his YouTube channel The Slow Mo Guys and his work with RoosterTeeth, lived in the town from May 1992 until February 2012; he now resides in Austin, Texas.
DJ and music producer Bill Francis, one half of DJ/Production duo Kry Wolf, also lived in Thame. He now resides in Bristol.
Farmer Giles of Ham written by J.R.R. Tolkien is mostly set in Thame, amongst other nearby towns. It contains a fictional origin of the name Thame: the town was originally called Ham, but was renamed Tame because of the tame dragon who was convinced by Farmer Giles to settle there. Over time the spelling changed to the modern form.
- "Area: Thame CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, pages 809–810
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 807
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 806
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, pages 806–807
- Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers, South Oxon branch. "St. Mary the Virgin, Thame".
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 812
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 814
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 813
- Nugent and Nugent (1854). Some memorials of John Hampden: his party and his times. London: Chapman & Hall. p. 361.
- International Boxing Hall of Fame. "James Figg".
- "James Figg 1684–1734". Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Scheme. Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "A History of Thame". Thame.Net.
- Lisle, 2011, page 81
- Lisle, 2011, page 83
- "Henry Boddington 1813–1886". Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Scheme. Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- Thame Poor Law Union and Workhouse
- "The Wycombe Railway". Retrieved 7 January 2009.
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 809
- Thame Local History, The Thame Hoard
- "Barley Hill Primary School".
- "John Hampden Primary School".
- "St Joseph's Catholic Primary School".
- "Lord Williams's School".
- "Oxfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes".
- "Thame Rotary Club".
- "Thame Show".
- "Chinnor RFC".
- "Thame United FC".
- "Thame Town CC".
- "Thame Bowls Club".
- "Thame Tennis Club".
- "The Oxfordshire Golf Club".
- "Robin Gibb joins Thame housing development controversy".
- "The Prebendal". Thame History.
- Fothergill, John (1931). An Innkeeper's Diary. London: Chatto & Windus.
- Fothergill, John (1949). My Three Inns. London: Chatto & Windus.
- "Historic Thame Town Trail Factsheet". 21st Century Thame.
- "Alfredo Campoli 1906–1991". Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Scheme. Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- Daily Telegraph. 11 Dec 2001. Sir Frank Bowden, Bt - Obituary
- "Saving Private Ryan (1998) - Filming Locations". IMDb. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
Sources and further reading
- Aston, Michael; Bond, James (1976). The Landscape of Towns. Archaeology in the Field Series. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd. pp. 87, 89, 91, 96, 98. ISBN 0-460-04194-0.
- Lisle, Nicola (October 2011). "The Master Brewer". Oxfordshire Limited Edition (Oxford: Newsquest): 81, 83.
- Lobel, Mary D, ed. (1962). A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 7: Thame and Dorchester Hundreds. Victoria County History. pp. 160–219.
- Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). Oxfordshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 806–818. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
Media related to Thame at Wikimedia Commons
- "Thame Local History".
- "Thame Local News".
- "Visit Thame".
- "Historical Information about Thame". Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- "Grace Church Thame - part of the Newfrontiers Family of Churches".