Thame Local History
Baldington Manor and Place House

In the jargon of the feudal system, Baldington manor was a 'subinfeudation' of the manor of Old Thame. What this means in effect is that part of the land of the original manor of Old Thame, and the rents and other feudal rights that went with it, were sub-let.

All feudal manors were originally held first and foremost by the King, with a 'tenant-in-chief' acting as the feudal lord of the manor. The feudal rights and duties that fell to the tenant-in-chief were not just financial, they also included holding manorial courts, where local disputes and legal transactions were settled.

The tenant-in-chief of the manor of Old Thame up until the Reformation was the Bishop of Lincoln. In the fifteenth century the Bishop 'subinfeudated' part of Old Thame, creating Baldington manor. The holder of Baldington manor held manorial courts.

The first mention of Baldington manor comes in 1419, at the death of William Baldington, holder of the manor. William was the son of John Baldington of Thame, who had earlier acquired the manor of Albury, near Tiddington. William Baldington lived at Albury, which is today a deserted mediaeval village, of which only bumps on the ground remain.

The manor passed to William's son Thomas, and then to Thomas' widow Agnes Baldington. In 1454 Agnes Baldington passed the manor on to her daughter, also called Agnes, who was the wife of Henry Tracy of Toddington in Gloucesterhsire. The Tracy's sold Baldington manor to Geoffrey Dormer in 1473, for the sum of 313, although Dormer was to pay them an annual rent of 9, from which he was allowed to deduct 3 shillings to pay the steward who held the manorial courts.

Geoffrey Dormer was a merchant of the Staple of Calais, that is a wealthy wool merchant, and an important man in Thame town life. He died in 1503, but not before he had passed on Baldington manor to his son, also called Geoffrey.

In 1509 the Bishop of Lincoln farmed out his manor of New Thame to Geoffrey Dormer the younger, so that he now held effectively both New and Old Thame.

When Geoffrey Dormer the elder acquired Baldington manor in 1473, he is also said to have acquired Place House, the Thame residence of Agnes Baldington. Place House is known to have stood in what is now North Street, Thame, and it is where Lord Williams' body lay in state the night before his funeral at St Mary's Church in 1559.

Place House must have been an impressive residence, but its exact location is not known. In all probability it stood on the north side of North Street between Wellington Street and Morend Lane. It was demolished sometime before the end of the eighteenth century.

The Dormer family sold Baldington manor in 1592. Sir Robert Dormer, heir of the Thame Dormers, built the great house at Rousham Park, between Oxford and Bicester, in 1635. The VCH for Thame draws heavily on the Dormer Archives still held at Rousham. The Dormers of Rousham continued to hold land in Thame up until the eighteenth century.

Sources

The information here is taken from the VCH.




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