Thame Local History
Place House - Thame's Manor House
What could archaeology tell us?
Place House is the only
known secular manor-house to have stood in Thame.
Sitting just outside the market town of New Thame, there could not be a more strategic position to site a manor-house whose function was not merely as a prestigious residence but as the place from which traffic and trade were controlled and regulated.
The big question about Place House is its age and origins.
Historical records do not tell us when Baldington manor-house (the former name for Place House) was built. It was sometime before the year 1419, but how much before we don't know.
We know that John Baldington of Thame was a wealthy town merchant in the fifteenth century, and that he lived at what became Place House.
What we do not know is whether the manor-house evolved from John Baldington's merchant residence, or whether it was originally a manor-house belonging to the Bishop of Lincoln.
We know that early Anglo Saxon Thame was centred around the church, and we know about the twelfth century planned town, but we do not know the period in which the area in between the church and the market, along North Street, was developed.
As well as dating evidence, we would learn about the size, structure and shape of Place House. We may learn how the Dormer family remodelled it in Tudor fashion.
We would learn something of the layout of the grounds of Place House and how they related to the adjacent manor farm, as well as how they were laid out. In Tudor times, gardens were often constructed in fine geometric patterns.
The archaeology may have been disturbed by decades of market gardening, but on the other hand the lack of subsequent building may have preserved the underground archaeology. This is equally true of the concrete slabs that cover the site today.
The underground archaeology may include the foundations of the successive building phases, layered one on top of the other. There may be cellars or vaults, possibly filled in with rubble from the original building. Crucially, there may be artifacts that can be used to date the various phases, such as pottery, coins, floor tiles and carved stonework.