Abbey, parish church and prebendal
St Mary the Virgin parish church
Thame Abbey was founded in 1138 for the Cistercian Order: the abbey church was consecrated in 1145. In the 16th century Dissolution of the Monasteries the abbey was suppressed and the church demolished. Thame Park (the house) was built on the site, incorporating parts of the abbey including the early-16th century abbot's house. Its interior is one of the earliest examples of the Italian Renaissance in England. A Georgian west wing was added in the 18th century. In about 1840 parts of the foundations of the abbey church were excavated: it was 77 yards (70 m) long and 23 yards (21 m) wide, with a Lady Chapel extending a further 15 yards (14 m) at the east end.
The earliest feature of the Church of England parish church of Mary the Virgin is the 12th century base of the font. The font's octagonal bowl was re-cut in the 13th century. The present church is a cruciform building that was built in the 13th century. The chancel is Early English Gothic and was built in about 1220, with six lancet windows in its north wall and presumably a similar arrangement in the south wall. It was twice altered in the next few decades: a three-light plate tracery window was inserted in its north wall in the mid-13th century and the five-light east window with geometrical tracery was inserted in about 1280. Whatever lancet windows may have been in the chancel south wall were replaced with three two-light Decorated Gothic windows with reticulated tracery, and a double piscina was added at the same time.
The transepts and tower arches are also early 13th century. The nave has five-bay north and south aisles whose arcades were built in about 1260. The aisles were widened in the 14th century, when they acquired their Decorated Gothic windows and doors. The Decorated Gothic south porch has two storeys and a two-bay quadripartite vault.
The Perpendicular Gothic clerestory is 14th or early 15th century. In the 15th century the tower piers were strengthened and the two upper stages of the tower were built. In 1442 the north transept was rebuilt with five-light Perpendicular Gothic north and east windows with panel tracery. At about the same time the south transept acquired similar windows and was extended eastwards to form a chapel with a 15th-century piscina. The Perpendicular Gothic nave west window was inserted in 1672–73, making it an example of Gothic survival. In 1838 the north aisle north wall was rebuilt under the direction of George Wilkinson.
The tower has a ring of eight bells, all cast by Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1876.
The Prebendal House is known to have existed by 1234, The Early English Gothic chapel was built in about 1250. The solar is also 13th century but was enlarged in the 14th, when the present crown-post roof was added. The rest of the Prebendal House is dated from the 15th century. The hall is 14th century in plan but was later divided, and one part now has a fine 15th century roof. In 1661 the antiquary Anthony Wood reported that the house was ruinous, and early in the 19th century the remains were in use as a farmhouse and barns. It was restored in 1836. The Prebendal House was the home of singer/songwriter Robin Gibb and his wife Dwina from 1984, and Gibb is buried in St Mary's parish churchyard.