Thame Local History

Tetsworth sits on a very ancient road, leading from the nation's capital over the Chiltern Hills towards the 'crossroads of England' at Oxford.

The name Tetsworth is Anglo Saxon. It is made up of a person's name, assumed to be 'Taetel' from early spellings, and the common Anglo Saxon place name ending 'worth' meaning enclosure.

When place names became permanent, with the advent of civil administration during the late Anglo Saxon period, the name of the current local leader or family group often became enshrined in the place name. This was the case with Taetel, although Taetel may not have created Tetsworth.

The name Taetel may have Scandinavian origins. This doesn't mean that Taetel was a Viking. In the tenth century many settled English landowners were of Danish origin, such as Oskytel, the Bishop of Dorchester who died at Thame in 971, and his brother Thurkytel, Abbot of Bedford.

Tetsworth does not appear in the Domesday Book of 1086, but it did exist at the time. It was part of the manorial land of Thame and as such belonged to the Bishop of Lincoln. This means that it once belonged to Oskytel, Bishop of Dorchester, who may well have granted it to Taetel, although this is pure speculation.

As well as being on the route from London to Oxford in very early times, Tetsworth connects with Thame and points north via Moreton. It also sits on an ancient route south, via Stoke Talmage, towards the river Thames at Wallingford.

Tetsworth's early associations with important roads are further emphasised by the act of Richard Quartermain in setting up the Guild of St Christopher at Thame in the year 1447.

As part of the foundation of the guild, Richard Quartermain specified that a hermit was to be employed, to live at a hermitage at Tetsworth, and to maintain the road from Stokenchurch to the Wheatley Bridge, which in those days would have gone from Tetsworth through Rycote, where Richard Quartermain lived, towards Wheatley.

The Swan Inn at Tetsworth has existed at least from the year 1482, when its keeper was indicted for having excessive prices.

The road through Tetsworth towards Oxford was turnpiked early in the eighteenth century, cutting across previously open countryside towards Milton Common. This road became the A40 and it put Tetsworth on a major traffic route, effectively taking such places as Latchford and Great Haseley off the map.

When the M40 opened, Tetsworth itself lost the majority of its through traffic, and as a living community has not really survived the associated loss of trade.

Do you live in a village near Thame?

Old maps of Thame and the villages

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  Thame, Oxfordshire, England