Thame Local History
The Wykeham-Musgraves and World War I
With the death of Sophia Elizabeth Wykeham in 1870, Thame Park and House passed to
Aubrey Wenman Wykeham of Swalcliffe Park.
(Sophia Elizabeth Wykeham, Baroness Wenman, had been the result of the union between the Wenmans of Thame Park and the Wykehams of Swalcliffe.)
In 1836 Aubrey Wenman Wykeham of Swalcliffe had married Georgina Musgrave, only heir to the Musgrave estate at Barnsley Park in Gloucestershire.
There had been a Musgrave baronetcy, which became extinct with Georgina's brother, the tenth Baronet, Sir William Augustus Musgrave, who had been Rector of Chinnor for 60 years. He died without issue and therefore left no male heirs to continue the baronetcy.
In 1876 the family name was changed by royal licence to Wykeham-Musgrave, to preserve the name of the now extinct Musgrave baronetcy.
The extinct Wenman title tended to occur in Wykeham family Christian names.
Aubrey and Georgina became the Wykeham-Musgraves of Thame Park and Barnsley Park.
At Aubrey's death in 1879 his son Wenman Aubrey Wykeham-Musgrave inherited Thame Park, by now seemingly the lesser of the family's two seats.
Wenman Aubrey Wykeham-Musgrave's initials 'W A W-M' are to be seen on some of the outbuildings in Thame Park, notably on a washery he built for the estate workers. He was the lay rector of Thame, and in 1889 was responsible for the renovation of the chancel within Thame's St Mary's Church.
The census returns for Thame Park in the years following the death of Baroness Wenman give us an insight into what life was like at the park at this time. They show in particular, how the workforce at Thame Park, at the house and in the park, were drawn from all over the country.
View the census returns here 1871, 1881, 1891.
In 1914 Wenman Aubrey Wykeham Musgrave moved to Barnsley Park and the tenure of the Wykeham-Musgraves, the Wykehams and the Wenmans at Thame Park, which had all started with the will of Lord Williams of Thame, effectively came to an end. Wenman Aubrey Wykeham-Musgrave died a year after leaving Thame Park.
During the First World War (1914 - 1918), there were huge troop movements locally, and Thame Park was used as a camp for many thousands of young men on their way to the front.
It is said that the First World War years brought to and end the age of the great country houses in England, and so ended a chapter in English social history.
Certainly, at the end of the war, Thame Park House was no longer the bustling household and the centre of polite society for the district that it had been.
The land at Thame Park was rented out during the war to a succession of people, including W. H. Gardiner, an Australian sheep farmer.
The estates belonging to Thame Park had grown during the Cistercian years, and included such places as Scotgrove. These outlying estates were sold off during the war years. The farmland adjoining the park at Sydenham Grange remained as part of the Thame Park estate.
The Chapel in Thame Park, built by the Cistercians, had served the family and workforce since being renovated in 1836, but in 1916 the last service was held there. Several of the estate workers listed in the census returns are buried in the graveyard at Thame Park Chapel, alongside Baroness Wenman.
In 1919 the Wykeham-Musgraves at Barnsley Park auctioned off the domestic contents of Thame Park House.