Thame Local History
Richard Quartermain's Manor House
In the Time Team episode called 'A Palace Sold for Scrap', broadcast on 11th February 2001,
Tony Robinson and crew told the story of the Tudor Palace which once stood at Rycote.
At 4.30pm on day three of the three day exploration, a solid mediaeval wall was uncovered, beneath the remains of the Tudor palace.
Archaeologist Bill Kemperer unearthed several pottery artefacts which enabled him to make an initial estimate of the date of the wall, which he put at fourteenth or fifteenth century.
In the programme, Bill said to Tony Robinson "I think there were substantial buildings here, before the Tudor mansion, on this site. Probably they were demolished wholesale before the Tudor mansion was built."
The mediaeval wall was on a different alignment from the walls of the Tudor mansion, and lay beneath its foundations. The focus of the Time Team programme was the Tudor mansion, and no time was available to excavate the mediaeval foundations further.
As a result, we have no firm date for the wall found on day three, but we do know that in 1449 Richard Quartermain consecrated a new chapel which he had built at Rycote.
It is possible that the wall found by Time Team was constructed at roughly the same time as the nearby Rycote Chapel and is part of the foundations of Richard Quartermain's high status manor house at Rycote.
We know that Richard Quartermain lived at Rycote, and that his manor house would have befitted a man of his wealth and status. If he did build a substantial manor house out of stone at Rycote, then it is probable that he also demolished or substantially altered the building that stood there previously.
If Time Team had had a day four, they may have discovered earlier walls beneath the mediaeval walls. This is because Rycote manor house was the home of wealthy families from Norman times.
What we saw at Rycote is the foundation of a wall of Richard Quartermain's manor house, or of the manor house he took over and lived in.
Channel 4 Time Team Archive link to the episode
Rycote's Tudor Mansion