There is evidence to suggest that
Thame originated from an old Saxon settlement next to the river
Thame, where the town's name was derived. Findings of jewelry
and pieces of pottery have added strength to this.
Initially Thame was in the diocese
of the town Dorchester until the beginning of the 19th Century.
The St. Mary the Virgin Church was rebuilt in 1240 by Bishop
Grossteste and contains work from every century since then.
The church was the focus of the town, which was gradually built
Thame retains much of its old world
charm, and markets have been held there since 1230. The Bishop
of Lincoln diverted the road from Aylesbury so that it passed
right through Thame market. The Birdcage was originally built
as a permanent market booth in the 16th century when it belonged
to the Guild of St. Christopher. The building was also known
to have housed prisoners of the Napoleon Wars whilst the officers
were housed in the Spread Eagle.
The Reformation did not affect Thame dramatically,
although in Thame Park there was a suppression of the Cistercian
monastery. Lord William's Grammar School was founded in 1559
by Lord William, who was popular with the five Tudor monarchs.
In the 18th century the houses
were built or altered to look Georgian, and Inns were introduced
as traveling became more popular. These included the Spread
Eagle and the Swan which are still used today. The town lost
a lot of wealth at the beginning of the 19th century. It was
very agricultural and these wages were extremely basic. At this
time Rycotewood College used to be a Victorian Workhouse, reflecting
The town began to expand and develop
at the end of the 19th century when Chinnor Road was developed
to house the workers who worked on the railway line that connected
Thame, Oxford, London and High Wycombe. At the turn of the century
Thame housed three thousand people. These days however there
are in excess of ten thousand.
Thame has outgrown its originally
agricultural status and is now a thriving industrial town, yet
still maintaining the character and atmosphere of an ancient