For walkers, cyclists and nature-lovers, Thame is perfectly placed to make the most of the beautiful South Oxfordshire countryside. Cuttlebrook, Thame’s awardwinning nature reserve, offers a rich diversity of wildlife and a network of footpaths to explore. The picturesque Phoenix Trail, running along the old railway route from Thame to Princes Risborough, is a pleasant place for an afternoon stroll but, for longer walks, it’s possible to join the Ridgeway Path, Britain’s oldest track, that runs to the south of Thame on its way from Wiltshire to Buckinghamshire. The Oxfordshire Way passes to the west of Thame as it winds its way through the glorious countryside from Gloucester to Oxfordshire.
Offering exquisitely carved and painted woodwork and a long history, the 15th century Rycote Chapel at Rycote Park just west of Thame is worth a visit. About seven miles from Thame, Waterperry House and Gardens are a delight with eight acres of ornamental gardens, a garden shop, gift barn and gallery, museum and tea shop. About 11 miles away in Buckinghamshire is Waddesdon Manor, a magnificent house and grounds in the style of a 16th century French chateau, bequeathed by James de Rothschild in the 1950s. Hughenden Manor in High Wycombe, about 15 miles away is set in glorious parkland with an abundance of woodland. Also owned by the National Trust, it was once home to the Victorian statesman, Benjamin Disraeli and now offers walks, activity days and art workshops to suit all ages and abilities. The most famous of Oxfordshire’s stately homes, Blenheim Palace, is in Woodstock, about 21 miles away.
The vibrant town of Thame, appreciated by residents and visitors alike, offers everything from unique, awardwinning shops, restaurants and cafes to colourful markets and a rich sense of history.
Thame is a charming, bustling market town with a rich sense of history. In the 12th century, the Bishop of Lincoln, Lord of the Manor, created a new town at Thame – with a wide High Street designed to accommodate a market. The Birdcage pub built around 1300, along with the surrounding buildings, formed part of the open market place. The 16th century Thatch Pub is another classic English inn which serves top quality food, fine ales and carefully-selected wine.
Thame’s skyline is dominated by the spire of the parish church of Mary the Virgin, parts of which date back to the 12th century. Close to the church is the 13th century Prebendal House, neglected for centuries and the source of many local myths which focus on underground tunnels built by medieval monks. Musician Robin Gibb made Prebendal House his home for over 30 years. Just a short walk away is another of Thame’s landmarks – an unusual ironwork bandstand, once displayed at the British Empire Exhibition held at Wembley in 1924–5.
Modern day Thame also has a lot to offer. In the town centre, you’ll discover a selection of award-winning butchers, bakers and delicatessens along with specialist retailers and High Street names. The town is home to a branch of Waitrose, Boots the Chemist and M&S Simply Food. There’s even a branch of Rumsey’s Chocolaterie in Thame. If you’re eating out, there’s something to suit every taste from Italian to Indian and Chinese cuisine.
For an evening of local entertainment, the 132-seat Players Theatre hosts the Thame Players who produce five shows a year and welcome new members willing to act, direct, produce or build scenery. The theatre is also home to Thame’s regular cinema and the Town Hall hosts events including arts and craft fairs.
Country markets are part of our national heritage – and Thame has more than its fair share with weekly markets, monthly farmers’markets, regular cattle markets and seasonal fairs
In June, there’s the Thame Carnival and Big Street Party and in October, the Charter Fair. September is busy with Thame Fair held in the High Street, Thame Show and Thame’s annual Food Festival which unites local farmers, growers, producers, retailers and chefs. A great supporter of the Food Festival is the celebrated Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton. Set amidst lawns, flower borders, orchards and herb gardens, Le Manoir offers an outstanding gastronomic experience.
The annual Thame Arts and Literature Festival celebrates the written word with opportunities to meet authors, ‘talk books,’ enjoy readings, participate in workshops and visit exhibitions. For the sporting, there’s no shortage of leisure pursuits on hand. The award-winning Oxfordshire Golf Resort, Hotel and Spa in the nearby village of Milton is considered one of the country’s most exciting courses and the spa has been
awarded four ‘bubbles’ by the Good Spa Guide. Thame has its own tennis club with a range of membership options and a programme of social events. Racquets Fitness Centre has a gym, studio, fitness classes and squash courts and there’s also Thame Leisure Centre with gym, pool and fitness studio. Thame Cricket Club welcomes new players of all ages and abilities – both male and female.
For a day’s retail therapy, Oxford with its ‘dreaming spires’ is less than 17 miles from Thame and is home to individual boutiques, delicatessens, craft shops, antique stalls, museums, café-bars, pubs and restaurants. For an evening out, the Oxford Playhouse and the Burton Taylor Studio present and produce live performance from drama to dance, music, lectures and poetry.
For theatre-goers, the 1200-seat Aylesbury Waterside Theatre is a must with a programme of musicals, plays, opera, ballet, dance, comedy, children’s shows and seasonal pantomimes.
Thame is well connected, being accessible from junctions 6, 7 and 8 from the M40. The nearest railway station is Chiltern Rail’s Haddenham and Thame Parkway on the main line between Birmingham and London’s Marylebone Station. There is a regular bus service to Oxford, Aylesbury and High Wycombe and the surrounding villages.