Thame Local History
The Court House and Magistrates Court

The Court House in High Street, Thame, has not always been a Magistrate's Court, but was first constructed as a County Court, the Magistrates at that time conducting their business elsewhere.

The land upon which it is built was originally part of the Estate of the Earl of Abingdon and was sold by him to Benjamin Field in 1817 for the sum of 160. Benjamin died in May 1851, leaving the land to his eldest son Samuel.

Eight years later in 1859 Samuel Field sold the land for the sum of 400 for the building of a County Court and this is recorded in the Thame Gazette of 7th June 1859 under "Projected Improvements"

We are pleased to announce that the Thatched Cottages between the Bell Inn and R Lee Esq have been pulled down and the site purchased for the purpose of building a new County Court House. We congratulate our fellow townsmen on what we doubt not will be a great improvement to that part of the town, and should be well pleased to see soon other tumbledown places removed for similar purposes.

Nothing further is recorded until the Thame Gazette of 20th August 1861 which gave the following report

The County Court - This building was opened for transacting business on Saturday last. The whole building is designed and fitted up for the purpose of county court business, and for which it only will be used. It was built by Mr Giles Holland, of this town, upon whom it reflects the highest credit for the manner in which the whole of the work has been executed.

We are uncertain when the Court House began having a shared use by both the County Court and the Magistrates Service, but it was certainly prior to the Second World War.

During the war the Ministry of Labour used the buildings and the Magistrates sat in the Town Hall. After the war the buildings reverted to dual use by the County Court and Magistrates until in 1984 the buildings were purchased by the County Council on behalf of the Lord Chancellor for use solely by the Magistrates Service; the County Court had by that time removed its business to Oxford.

In 1986 alterations and additions were made to the buildings and this is the Court House that we see today.

Written by Cecil Wiggs

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  Thame, Oxfordshire, England