Thame Local History
The Thame Cistercians
The Cistercian Abbey at Thame Park was home to a community of monks for almost
exactly 400 years, from its consecration in 1138 to its Dissolution under
Henry VIII in 1539.
It was for most of its time a wealthy institution, benefiting from the proceeds of sheep farming within and around Thame Park, and also from a number of endowments of land from neighbouring manors.
Farms belonging to the Abbey were called granges. Home Grange, or Thame Park Grange, was in Moreton. There was also a Tetsworth Grange and a Sydenham Grange.
This reflects the fact that the manorial lands belonging to the villages of Sydenham and Towersey were donated to Thame Park Abbey, in the thirteenth century.
A document called the Thame Cartulary details the many transactions between the Abbot of Thame Park and the landowners around. This document has been published in book form, although sadly in Latin. A copy should be available in the local library or in the Centre for Oxfordshire Studies in Oxford.
Thame Park Abbey was also endowed with the proceeds of a Thame mill, which we know today as Scotsgrove Mill.
The Cistercian order had enjoyed great wealth and influence throughout Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but the last years of monastic life at Thame Park became something of a sorry tale.
Far from a life of strict monastic observance, the white monks were often to be seen frequenting the inns of Thame, feasting and following more worldly pursuits.
Although the monks were in debt to many, including the Vicar of Thame, the last but one Abbot, John Warren, set about constructing a fine Abbot's lodging for himself at Thame Park.