Thame Local History
Towersey and Kingsey

In the Domesday Book of 1086 there is an entry for a manorial holding in Buckinghamshire called in Latin 'Eie', and taken to be a single manor which today comprises both Kingsey and Towersey.

The Domesday Book tells us that the manor was held in 1086 by Nigel of le Vast from Nigel of Aubigny, and that it was held before the Conquest by seven of King Edward the Confessor's thanes, who held it in freehold.

The Anglo Saxon place name 'Ay' or 'Ey' is where we get the modern word 'island' from. It generally refers to an area of high ground surrounded by marshy ground, or 'moor'.

Whilst Moreton, therefore, sat within the marshy ground that then surrounded Thame, Ey, or Eye, stood above it on drier ground.

It is very common for Domesday manors to become split into separate manors in later centuries, often with the separate ownership enshrined in the name, such as in Bishop's Langley' and Abbot's Langley, or Church Cowley and Temple Cowley.

This happened to Ey, which became split into 'King's Ey' and something akin to 'Tours Ey'. The prefix 'Tours' is believed to come from the de Tours family, who acquired the manor. Over time, the name 'Tours Ey' became 'Towersey'.

For a more detailed history of Towersey, see the Towersey village website at

Kingsey and Towersey became separate parishes and although both were originally in Buckinghamshire, Kingsey found itself partly in Oxfordshire. In 1932 the two counties made a swap, so that Towersey was designated as in Oxfordshire and Kingsey was returned to Buckinghamshire.

The modern road from Thame to Kingsey was constructed as a turnpike in the nineteenth century. The ancient route to Kingsey from Thame was via Towersey, and the road from Towersey to Kingsey is still there, as a public bridleway. The ancient road from Towersey to Ilmer is also still there and a popular public right of way.

Today Towersey is known throughout the world for its annual festival. See the Towersey village website above for more information on the Towersey Festival.

Do you live in a village near Thame?

Old maps of Thame and the villages

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  Thame, Oxfordshire, England