Thame Local History
Thame Grammar School

The current Lord Williams School on Oxford Road is the successor to the original Thame Grammar School in Church Row.

Thame Grammar School
The Original Thame Grammar School as it is today

The Grammar School was endowed by Lord Williams of Thame, who upon his death on 14th October, 1559, bequeathed in his will dated 18th March 1559..

"the rectories and parsonages of Brill, Oakley, Boarstall and Easton Beston [Northants] to mine executors for ever, to the intent that they, or the survivor or survivors of them, shall within the same erect a free school in the town of Thame, and to find and sustain with the profits thereof, a schoolmaster and an usher for ever, in such sort and time as my said executors shall think most convenient for the maintenance of the said school for ever."

Building of the schoolhouse began in 1569 (after sufficient income had been accumulated from the bequests), with teaching starting late in 1570.

The original stone building, although much altered, is still standing amidst its later additions. It was roughly T-shaped, and contained rooms for the master and usher in the west front, and a schoolroom 50ft, by 20ft. behind, with attics above for the use of boarders. The windows of the schoolroom contained the Royal arms, together with those of the founder and of his connections.

The main entrance at that time was from Church Row, although a more imposing entrance from the High Street was formed in later years.

Thame alms Houses and Old Grammar School

High Street entrance, the Old Grammar School is visible in the backgound

There was a playground in the north-east corner, together with a masters garden and orchard.

For the first few years the executors superintended the affairs of the school, but in 1575, realising that they "must some day go the way of all flesh," they handed over to the Warden and Fellows of New College Oxford

"all that capital messuage or house, newly builded in Old Thame, called the School House, with a garden and orchard and a curtilage hereunto adjacent and lying."

The school remained under the guardianship of New College for almost exactly three centuries.

Selected Bibliography:

A Short History of Thame School, J. Howard Brown, 1927
A History of Thame, J. Howard Brown and William Guest, 1935
      The current school's website

      Note on Grammar Schools in England

      Lord Williams of Thame

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