Thame Local History
Early 16th Century Period (1500 - 1530)

In the first year of the reign of King Henry VIII
(1509 - 1547), there is the first mention of the market hall or 'moot' hall at Thame.

Prior to this market hall, which stood more or less where Thame Town Hall stands today, it is thought that the building used for conducting market business and for confining transgressors was the oldest part of the building which is today the Birdcage pub.

In 1514 Thomas Wolsey, King Henry's Lord Chancellor, began building Hampton Court Palace.

It is thought that Rycote Palace, a building of similar style and proportions, was built around 1520-25, on the site of Richard Quartermain's former manor house at Rycote Park.

Rycote Palace It is not known for certain who built Rycote Palace and when. The accepted date of its construction comes from comparison with such building styles as those seen at Hampton Court.

At the start of the sixteenth century the Rycote estate belonged to Richard Fowler the younger, who was known as a spendthrift.

He sold the Rycote estate to Sir John Heron, treasurer of the royal household, in 1521, after plunging it into ruin.

The construction of the Tudor palace at Rycote was either the cause of Richard Fowler's ruin, or the work of the King's treasurer, Sir John Heron.

At Thame Park, the Cistercian Abbey was only a few decades away from final dissolution. The behaviour of the monks and the Abbot were giving cause for concern.

In 1525 the Bishop of Lincoln, John Longlands, who was also confessor to King Henry VIII, wrote to the person responsible for order at Thame Abbey, the Abbot of the first ever Cistercian house in Britain at Waverley, complaining about the state of affairs at the Abbey.

The buildings were reported to be in ruin, although the Abbot, John Warren, was said to be furnishing himself with a grand lodging. The monks were said to hold great feasts at the local taverns, although the Abbey was in debt, owing money to the Vicar of Thame among others.

At John Warren's death in 1529 Bishop Longlands advised Cardinal Wolsey that none of the local monks should be made Abbot and instead Robert King, whose brother William was a brother-in-law to Sir John Williams, was appointed as the last Abbot of Thame.

The following year, 1530, King Henry VIII is said to have visited Thame and been entertained at the Red Lion Inn with both his first wife Catherine of Aragon and his next wife, then a lady in waiting, Anne Boleyn.

The market or moot hall

The Birdcage

Thame Park Abbey, Dissolution

Robert King

Sir John Williams

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  Local History Research Group
  Thame, Oxfordshire, England