Thame Local History

Sydenham is an ancient settlement, dating back at least to Anglo Saxon times. The name is derived from the Anglo Saxon word 'sid' meaning wide, large or extensive and 'ham' meaning enclosure or settlement.

Today Sydenham Hurst and Sydenham Grange Farm are some distance from the heart of the village, giving some clue to the amount of land originally belonging to Sydenham.

Sydenham appears in the Domesday Book of 1086, and its entry mentions sixty acres of meadow and a woodland measuring half a league by three furlongs (over half a mile by three eighths of a mile).

Before the Norman Conquest Sydenham belonged to a man called Aelmer who held it in freehold. Following the Norman invasion it was given to Earl William, Earl of Hereford, who was King William the Conqueror's closest childhood friend.

Earl William had been killed in 1071, so by the time of Domesday in 1086 Sydenham was in the hands of Gilbert de Breteuil. Subsequently Hugh de Vernon and Roger de Quincy held the manor, until it was donated to Thame Park Abbey in the thirteenth century.

The lands of Sydenham adjoin those of Thame Park and much of it was swallowed up by Thame Park. In the year 1317 the Thame to Sydenham road was enclosed within the park.

With the Dissolution of the Monasteries the lands of Thame Park, including the manor of Sydenham, were acquired by Sir John Williams. They passed on to his daughter Margery and her husband Sir Henry Norreys, but it seems then to have passed to the family of Margaret's sister Isobel, who had married Sir Richard Wenman and been left Thame Park itself in her father's will.

The Wenman family line at Thame Park became the Wykeham-Musgraves, and in 1917 the Wykeham-Musgraves sold the manor of Sydenham. They had previously sold Thame Park itself, and moved to Barnsley Park in Gloucestershire.

Sydenham Grange Farm seems to have been formed at this time, adjoining Thame Park. The villagers of Sydenham itself were given the opportunity to buy their land and cottages. Many of them were employed at Thame Park.

Do you live in a village near Thame?

Old maps of Thame and the villages

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  Thame, Oxfordshire, England