Thame Local History
Anglo Saxon Period (400 AD - 1066)

The story of modern day Thame really begins in the Anglo Saxon period.

In the four hundred years from the dawn of English Christianity to the Norman Conquest, Thame and nearly all of the towns and villages around it were established.

The Anglo Saxons were converted to Christianity in the seventh century. The great Anglo Saxon kingdoms, such as Wessex and Mercia, had already come into existence. Thame was on the southern fringes of Mercia.

Wulfhere, son of Penda, and related to the later King Offa, was King of Mercia in the late seventh century. He was the first of the royal line of Mercia to be converted to Christianity.

In a charter dated 675 King Wulfhere of Mercia bestowed an abbey at Chertsey whilst himself at Thame.

Historians have speculated that Thame was at this time one of a number of royal minster settlements, under Mercian overlordship.

St Mary's Church at Thame dates from after the Norman Conquest, but it is known to have been built on the site of an earlier Anglo Saxon church. This may have been the original site of the royal minster building, perhaps with a surrounding enclosure.

There is reference in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles to Thame only once. This is in the year 970 or 971 (depending on the interpretation chosen) , when a man called Oskytel, Bishop of Dorchester and Archbishop of York, died whilst at Thame.

In the centuries before Domesday, the Anglo Saxons developed a system of land tenure based on the hundred and the hide. Thame appears to have been a regional administrative centre during these times.

There is speculation that Thame suffered a Danish raid in the tenth century, but there is scant evidence for this.

The West Saxons built a Cathedral at Dorchester-on-Thames, where the river Thame meets the river Isis, or Thames. Dorchester had been an important Roman town and an early Christian place of worship.

The first Bishop of Dorchester was St Birinus, who is said to have baptised the Anglo Saxon King of Wessex in the river Thame at Dorchester-on-Thames in the seventh century, and thereby converted the West Saxons to Christianity.

The Episcopal see of Dorchester continued in existence until the Norman Conquest.

Along with Banbury, Cropredy, Great Milton and Dorchester itself, Thame was part of the demesne lands of the Bishop of Dorchester in the late Anglo Saxon Period.

Thame as 7th Century Minster

The Death of Archbishop Oskytel

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle

Thame Hundred

The Coming of Christianity to Dorchester and Thame

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  Local History Research Group
  Thame, Oxfordshire, England