Thame Local History
The Inns of Thame
This is a short selection of the history of some of the inns of Thame taken from a more
detailed history "Thame Inns Discovered" published in November 2000 by Daal
Thame Inns Discovered, ISBN 0-9539331-0-5.
Thame has always been renowned for the number of public houses that adorn its High Street, whether they are inns, alehouses, beer houses or any other form of drinking establishment where the local populus and visitors to the market could quench their thirst.
Beer is claimed to have provided a means to avoid the need to drink the local water that was always considered of poor quality.
The number of pubs that have existed in Thame has often been quoted as between 45 and 50, but recent research has increased this number to over 60. Some of these may have existed on the same site, but with differing names. Others have appeared in various buildings over the years.
The oldest recorded pub is the Bird Cage, which was originally known only as The Cage and then The Bird in the Cage. It can be traced back to the early 16th century, although most of the building itself is much older that this.
There were 20 or so pubs during the 16th century, but besides the Bird Cage, the only names identified are the Kings Head (now Nags Head), Saracens Head (now Reaston-Brown Estate Agents), Red Lion (now Lightfoots) and the Swan Inn.
Interesting stories abound for all of them, one in particular concerns Thomas Heath, maltster of the Red Lion, who in 1696, paid 2d a pound for the wife of George Fuller of Chinnor, at a total cost 29s and žd.
The 1600's saw the development of numerous inns and taverns, many with well known names, which some inhabitants still remember in Thame today, the Greyhound Inn, the Bull (once Taurus, now Hadley's) for instance. Other less well known places appeared in the High Street such as the Windmill, Black Boy, Wheele and Sword.
Many, currently familiar, establishments first appeared during the 18th and 19th centuries. These include the Spread Eagle, Oxford Arms and Six Bells. Quite a few of the pubs still open today only began trading after the Beer Act of 1830. For instance, the Rising Sun (1838) and Cross Keys (1841).
Allan Hickman/Dave Bretherton