Henry Boddington

Henry Boddington, of the brewery fame, and who grew up in Thame in the early part of the 19th century, wrote of his life in a short autobiography. This extracts describes a little of Thame, the Grammar School and the Civil War:

The High Street of Thame is very pretty in appearance. It is wide, open, clean, and pleasant-looking. In it is situated the Greyhound Inn, and that is the house in which John Hampden died of the wound he got at the skirmish at Chalgrove Field, a place within a few miles of Thame.

Thame is famous for its endowed Grammar School. It may seem incredible when I state that during my youthhood and for many subsequent years not a boy received instruction there. The parson took the endowment and not a jot did he do for the revenue received from it. This perversion lasted until very lately when an investigation was made, and since then an amendment has taken place – never could there be a more shameful perversion of funds, a perfect fraud. God forgive the perpetrators!

In this Grammar School Anthony Wood and his brother were educated, John Hampden, Lord Chief Justice Holt and many other celebrated men. How strange that with such antecedents it should have sunk out of remembrance! Anthony A. Wood gives to me pleasing and graphic descriptions of the Civil War, great courtesy was exercised between the contending parties.

It is a pity that some exact chronicler had given a more detailed account, though Anthony Wood’s account is often very graphic and his reputation for truth imperturbable. We now hunger for more information and what would we not give for some sketches of streets and buildings. Alas, the people were too busy and also quite unconscious of the value that they could have imparted to their successors. How very meagre is the record that comes to us and even that small amount we do not owe to the historian but rather to the poet, the dramatist and the writer of what is often miscalled fiction.

When not in actual conflict Anthony Wood describes a sharp skirmish between the King’s troops and Cromwell’s. This skirmish happened just below the church on the road leading to the village of Crendon. The little river Tame with the then swampy, undrained meadows was during the winter season a sufficient barrier to keep the troops asunder. Thame was then a rather important place. In the very house (since then pulled down or rebuilt) from whence Anthony Wood watched the skirmish he so well describes I slept when at school, the boys being removed there as fever prevailed in our school.

From the window of the room in which I slept I got out in the moonlight night to steal some apples. I escaped detection or should have caught it preciously.


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