Thame (OX9) is a market town in Oxfordshire. The first record of the town dates from the Anglo-Saxon era, when it was part of the kingdom of Wessex.
Like many towns of the time, in the 12th Century the town originally developed around the local church, Thame Abbey. Thame was part of the diocese of Lincoln from 1066 until the early 19th Century.
From 1183 a market has been held on a Tuesday, with the town receiving a Royal Charter in 1215. To increase the popularity of the market, the Bishop of Lincoln aimed to ensure that all travellers passed through the market by diverting the road from Aylesbury directly through it.
The 18th Century saw the growth of coach travel with the introduction of four new inns. However, agriculture was still the main industry in the town.
In 1836, a large Victorian Workhouse was built on the Oxford Road in Thame which was designed to accommodate 350 people. The building was later used by Rycotewood College and is today being redeveloped.
In the later part of the 19th Century, the town expanded. Cottages in Chinnor Road were built for people working on the railway line connecting the town with Oxford and London. The railway came to Thame in 1862 and was connected to Oxford in 1864. However, the town’s station closed in 1964. Today the nearest passenger railway station is Haddenham and Thame Parkway station, which opened in 1987 and is located 2 miles northeast of Thame, in Haddenham.
The 20th Century saw the population of Thame grow rapidly from around 3,000 in 1901 to over 11,000 in 2011. During the 1900s, agriculture stopped being the main industry in the town and a large industrial estate was built on the outskirts of the town. In the late 20th Century, the M40 was extended giving Thame a fast link to London and Birmingham.
Today the town is famous as the filming location for ITV’s Midsummer Murders.
Spread Eagle Hotel
A listed building, The Spread Eagle Hotel in Thame has been a hotel since it was built in the early 18th Century.
The hotel has played host to several historic figures since it was built, including King Charles II and the writers Evelyn Waugh and John Fothergill.
The building has 6 over 6 sash windows on the second and third floor, with 9 over 9 sash windows at the front of the building on the ground floor.
Thame Town Hall
Thame Town Hall was designed by the architect HJ Tollit in Jacobethan style. The building, which is Grade II listed, was built in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
In the early 20th Century the rear of the building was altered, but otherwise the building remains in the same style as when it was originally built.
Thame Town Hall has multiple sash windows. At the front of the building most of the windows are 4 over 2 sash windows. The windows on the first floor directly above the entrance door are 6 over 2 sash windows.
Fans of Midsummer Murders may recognise the building as Causton Town Hall.
Master’s Court, The Old Grammar School
The Old Grammar School was founded in 1559 after funding was provided by Lord Williams of Thame in his will. Building work began in 1569 and teaching started in the buildings the following year.
The building is a Grade II* with several casement windows. The original building has been altered several times, but still stands amongst the later additions.
Initially the executors of the will took on responsibility for the school’s affairs, but in 1575 they handed over responsibility to the Warden and Fellows of New College Oxford. Responsibility remained with New College Oxford for almost three centuries.
During the first half of the 17th Century, the school prospered and was attended by sons of neighbouring gentry as well as local farmers and tradesmen. The decline of the school started in the 18th Century and by 1866 Thame Grammar School only had 2 day-boys, with no boarders. In 1870 there were no more pupils at the school.
A new Board of Governors was formed in 1873. However, the school was moved to a new site in Oxford Road. The old school was sold in 1877 and became a girls’ school until 1908. The building remained empty for several years before becoming a private residence and later commercial offices.
Timber Windows in Thame
Some of the oldest buildings in Thame can be found in North Street and on the High Street. The town has several period properties, with different styles of timber sash windows to be found across the town centre.
There is a large conservation area around Thame town centre and the town is home to over 180 listed buildings, helping preserve the heritage of the area for future generations.
At The Sash Window Workshop we have been replacing and repairing timber windows and doors in period properties since 1994. We have extensive experience working in conservation areas and complying with listed building requirements.
Header image by Tom Bastin uploaded and derivative work: MrPanyGoff, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Image cropped.