Thame Local History
The Elizabethan Period (1560 - 1603)

The will of Lord Williams, former lord of the manor of Thame, contained several endowments to the benefit of the town.

The most notable of these were the establishment of Thame Grammar School and the endowment of Thame's Alms Houses.

Lord Williams' elder daughter Marjorie inherited the manor of Thame and also her father's former home at Rycote Palace.

Marjorie Williams married Henry Norreys in 1546, whose father had been executed in 1536 as a suspected lover of Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I (1558 - 1603).

Queen Elizabeth is said to have sympathised with Henry Norreys over the wrongful execution of his father. She made him her ambassador to France.

Marjorie Norreys initiated the building of Thame Grammar School in 1569 and it opened in the following year, 1570.

Both the new Grammar School and the Alms Houses passed into the care of the warden of New College Oxford in 1575.

There was a long and close friendship between Queen Elizabeth I and Henry and Marjorie Norreys. Elizabeth paid affectionate visits to Rycote Palace for over a quarter of a century whilst she was Queen of England. She had also spent much time there during her childhood.

Henry Norreys, then Baron Norreys of Rycote, died in 1601, two years before his beloved Queen Elizabeth herself.

In 1572 wealthy town merchant, Sir Francis Knollys, erected a mansion in Thame High Street.

John Williams' younger daughter Isobel inherited Thame Park from her father. She had married Sir Richard Wenman, a wealthy wool merchant from Witney, who died in 1572.

In 1596, the grandson of Sir Richard Wenman, also called Richard, and resident at Thame Park, received at knighthood whilst serving at Cadiz.

Thame Grammar School

Thame Alms Houses

Queen Elizabeth I at Rycote

An American view of Henry Norreys

The Wenmans of Thame Park

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  Local History Research Group
  Thame, Oxfordshire, England