Thame Local History
13th Century Period (1200 - 1299)

Bishop Hugh de Welles, also know as Hugh Trotman, regained full possession of the manors of New Thame and Old Thame in 1213 from King John (1199 - 1216). They had reverted to King Henry II in the previous century.

In 1215, the year of Magna Carta, King John granted a market charter for Thame to Bishop Hugh de Welles. This was confirmed in 1227 by Henry III (1216 - 1272).

King Henry III also granted Hugh de Welles a licence to divert the King's Highway through Thame in 1219. This is a crucial event in the development of Thame as a town.

In the same year, 1219, Bishop Hugh de Welles granted timber for the construction of a Court House, near what is now Church Row, to replace an earlier administrative hall.

At Thame Park, the Cistercian monks also received favour from Henry III. In 1224 the Abbot of Thame received the right to export wool free of royal customs duty and in 1232 new choir stalls were paid for at Thame Abbey by the King. In 1236 the King paid for more timber.

The list of duties for the prebendal monks at Thame began in 1234, expanding the community at Thame's Priestend.

In 1235 Robert Grosseteste became Bishop of Lincoln. Under Grosseteste's instructions, a new church was built at Thame.

St Mary's Church began construction in 1240. The former Anglo Saxon church , almost certainly a timber building, would have been destroyed as the new stone church was built.

In 1241 the chapel within the grounds of the Prebendal House was built.

In this same year Bishop Robert Grosseteste entered into a bitter dispute with King Henry III over the prebend at Thame.

John Mansel was the Royal Chancellor and one of the most wealthy ecclesiastics of the time.

Henry issued letters which granted the prebend of Thame to Mansel but Bishop Grosseteste had his own nominee, a man called Simon of London, and refused to give the prebend to Mansel. The dispute was resolved when Mansel himself declined the office.

Royal inquests into the affairs of the realm, known as Hundredal Inquests and recorded for us today in well preserved manuscripts called Hundred Rolls, reveal that the Bishops of Lincoln expanded the town of New Thame by erecting pemanent shops and stalls in the middle of the market place.

In 1255 the Hundred Rolls of King Henry III tell us that a certain Geoffrey Taylor and five others were paying rent to the Bishop of Lincoln for their shops in the middle of Thame market place.

Although Thame's wide high street is one of many such well preserved examples in England, it is very rare for the road still to pass either side of this thirteenth century infill as we see at Thame today.

Thame's Cistercian Abbey had been founded as a daughter house of Waverley Abbey, the first Cistercian house in Britain. In 1281 Thame Abbey founded its own daughter house, Rewley Abbey in Oxford.

In 1293 and 1294 there was another dispute over the prebend of Thame, this time involving a prolonged and violent occupation of Thame church by the supporters of the Pope's nominee Edward son of St John de St John, against the wishes of Oliver Sutton, then Bishop of Lincoln, who had appoined his nephew Thomas de Sutton, Archdeacon of Northampton.

The bailiffs of Thame and Banbury, and various other men of the Bishop eventually blockaded the town, digging dykes across five roads into the town and breaking down the Crendon Bridge.

The Thame Cistercians

The Prebendal House

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  Local History Research Group
  Thame, Oxfordshire, England