Mar 22

The John Hampden Memorial in Thame

The memorial of Bath stone is fixed to the wall of what was once the Greyhound Inn in Thame High Street and bears the following inscription:-

To honour the imperishable memory of John Hampden 1594 – 1643

Scholar of Lord William’s Grammar School, Thame Between the years 1600 and 1609

With great courage and consummate abilities, he began a noble opposition in an arbitrary court, in defence of the liberties of this country; supported them untiringly in Parliament and took arms to defend them. Mortally wounded on Chalgrove Field, he died in this house a few days later.

Clarendon said

“When Parliament began the eyes of all men were fixed on him as their patriae pater and the pilot that must steer their vessel through the tempests and rocks that threatened it, for his reputation for honesty was universal and his affections seemed so publicly guided that no corrupt or private ends could bias them”

Erected in 1951 by the Girls’ Grammar School, Thame

This is under a replica of the fine head of the Patriot which adorned the hall of the former school building and which is itself a copy of the one on the Chalgrove monument. (The one formerly in the school hall of the old Girls Grammar School is now in the John Hampden School in Thame).

Report from The Thame Gazette, 21 June 1951.


With the Guard of Honour, mounted by a contingent of the Combined Cadet Force of Lord Williams’ Grammar School commanded by Lt. R.H. Thomas R.N.V.R., standing at the slope, the officials of the opening ceremony made their way to the platform on Thursday afternoon for the unveiling of the Portland stone memorial to John Hampden.

Miss J.E.M. Fanshawe (Chairman) and Mr. HA. Hamecher (Clerk) represented the Urban District Council, Dr. W.O. Hassall, Secretary of the Oxfordshire Records Society, who later unveiled the plaque, Mr. AJ. Castle (Chairman) represented Thame Branch of the British Legion, the Rev. C.N. Middleton-Evans, MA., T.D., Vicar of St. Maiy’s who dedicated the memorial, the Rev. J. Todd, Vicar of Waterstock and Waterperry, who gave the address at the Chalgrove Field tercentenaiy service in 1943, Mr. H.G. Mullens, headmaster of Lord Williams’ Grammar Schoo, Miss M. Hockley and Miss C.Messenger, former joint headmistresses of the Thame Girls’ Grammar School, Mrs. D. Hamilton-Hill, hon. secretary of the Thame Girls’ Grammar School Old Girls’ Guild and Miss A.C. Coles, an Old Girl
and former member of the staff, these were the representatives of the various organisations represented at the unveiling.

A large crowd of townspeople was present, including members of the T.U.D.C. and heads of the various schools and educational establishments whose scholars were present at the ceremony. Boys from Lord Williams’ Grammar School where Hampden was educated, girls from Holton Park Girls’ Grammar School where the old Thame Girls’ Grammar School is now situated, scholars from the John Hampden and Thame Secondary Modern Schools and pupils of the Rycotewood College of Rural Crafts, these made up a large section of the assembly.

“Hampden was a man whom all the world can admire, especially for those qualities which perhaps most need a place in the world today” said Mr. Mullens, who introduced the various speakers. “He had convictions and acted on them with consistency. There is none whom the town and his old school more delights to honour”.

Paying tribute to Miss Hockley, the Girls’ Grammar School and the Old Girls’ Guild, Mr. Mullens recorded that it was their initiative and efforts which had made the unveiling possible.

Welcoming the various distinguished guests, Mr. Mullins read a letter from the Earl of Buckinghamshire who was
unable to attend owing to pressure of public business.

“It was a great inspiration on the part of the Old Girls’ of the School to think of erecting this memorial to John Hampden, whose name I personally bear” wrote his Lordship. “I trust that this memorial may be an inspiration and incentive to live up to, not only to the Old Girls of the school, but also to those who are attending it now, and will do so in the future”.

After reading the letter from the Earl of Buckinghamshire, Mr. Mullens introduced Mr. A.J. Castle, Chairman of the Thame Branch of the British Legion who on behalf of the Legion said how proud they were to be associated with this tribute to a great freedom loving patriot. “We can regard him as a forerunner of that great body known today as the British Legion. In two world wars over a million and a quarter men and women have laid down their lives in defence of the same principle that animated John Hampden.”

In a brief but eloquent speech the Rev. J. Todd, vicar of Waterstock and Waterperry, outlined the history of John Hampden’s association with Thame and district, his education at Lord Williams’s Grammar School, which now “probably claims him as its most famous old boy, his bride Elizabeth Symens, of Pyrton Manor. “It was in our immediate neighbourhood on Chalgrove Field that John Hampden first mustered his troops, his Green Jackets as they were called, and on Chalgrove Field he first unfurled his banner with its challenging Latin motto “Vestigia nulla retrorsum” “No turning back”

“And it was in Thame where he died on June 24th 1643. “Truly” continued Rev. Todd “it is Thame and
its neighbourhood which has the closest associations with John Hampden, and therefore it is especially
appropriate that a memorial to Hampden should be placed in this town.”

The speaker referred to the two-fold purpose of the assembly, to honour the memory of a great Englishman and to resolve to prove worthy of the freedom for which men like Hampden gave their lives. “It is not enough”, the speaker continued, “to honour the memory of a great man, indeed to honour the memory of John Hampden without drawing inspiration from his example would be futile.”
He urged the younger members of his audience to maintain the fight for freedom “and in the days to come, if the memory of John Hampden inspires you to resist oppression, to count freedom as more valuable than life itself, John Hampden will not have lived and died in vain.”

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