Thame Local History
The Foundation of Thame Park Abbey

The Cistercian order of monks was named after their home abbey at Citeaux in France.

In 1138 Robert le Gait founded a Cistercian Abbey at Oddington, near Islip, on Otmoor. The land he gave to the Cistercians was however described as "fitter for an ark than a monastery".

The Bishop of Lincoln, Alexander de Blois, was lord of the manor of Thame and had been planning to use an area of seemingly enclosed parkland between Thame and Sydenham as a deer park, for his own hunting pursuits.

This changed when Robert le Gait's Cistercian monks could no longer tolerate the wet conditions on Otmoor. Alexander donated his land at Thame to the Cistericans, and this gift was confirmed by the Pope in 1141.

The monks moved from Otmoor to Thame between 1138 and 1142, during which time an Abbey was built at Thame Park. The abbey church at Thame Park was consecrated in 1145.

Cistercian abbeys were always named after the Virgin Mary, and the abbey church at Thame Park became known as Sancta Maria de Parco Thame.

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  Thame, Oxfordshire, England