I can’t really imagine why you’d visit Thame, unless you were using the Travelodge as a base to visit Oxford and Waddesdon, or doing something bizarre like visiting the Beer Guide pubs.

Haddenham makes a much better rural pub crawl, and Long Crendon is the quintessential “lil Ol’ England” that I once heard an elderly American visitor describe it as.

It does have a decent Indian restaurant we stopped at once on one of several trips along the A41 back to Hitchin, but I didn’t remember its long high street as any  different to a dozen other middle England towns, and it’s not really in prime walking country.

But it has these;


That’s just one of a cluster of buildings that would appeal to any visitor with a couple of hours to spare. A church walk across the fields to the church and round to the High Street was another highlight.

The High Street was busier and smarter than Chesham had been, with a younger, upmarket crowd in the James Figg, new to the Guide.

This is a problematic pub. It’s expertly run by a gem of a young landlord, balances a quality food trade with some bar-room drinking, and has enough lived in character to appeal to a mix of visitors.  The beer (Vale) is very dull though (NBSS 2) and expensive.

No prizes for identifying the famous sporting photo

I could have taken a half-drunk half back but I knew it would take longer to resolve what would seem a minor complaint than it would to drink it. So I left it.  Nice beer range, not enough real ale drinkers again.

At the eastern edge of the High Street is the Cross Keys, which I was keen to revisit as it left no impression whatsoever first time around.  I’ve commented on the creeping erosion of lunchtime weekday opening, but 12-2 isn’t much better, and I just missed that.

So a minor architectural gem of a  town, but for a pub lunch head for the Eight Bells at Long Crendon or the Pointer at Brill, from where you can also see a famous windmill.


  1. The Birdcage is a lovely-looking pub, although I don’t know what it’s like inside.

    Thame is actually quite rare amongst English market towns in basically just consisting of one long cigar-shaped main street with an island of buildings in the middle. Newport (Shropshire) is the other one that springs to mind.

    Walked around it on a Sunday afternoon in the early 80s, but never been in a pub there.


    1. Well done. I didn’t know it was called the Birdcage. The hotrocks signs put me off.

      Interesting point about town design. Thought it was more common around Cotswolds areas but the island feature does stick out.


  2. Why would you visit Thame? Easy question to answer.

    THAME 2000.

    The year was 2000 (obviously). I was still at university. One of my friends in college was a certain JON BITHREY, now a heavyweight, big wheel in BBC Business, but then a part-time commercial DJ. We jumped in his battered old Clio and drove to Thame to see a radio roadshow featuring leading bubblegum pop band SCOOCH.

    That’s why you’d go to Thame, lad. None of this ticking off pubs in the CAMRA beer guide shit. Indeed we didn’t visit any pubs, we just had some warm tinnies. But we were in the first flush of youth and just glad to be alive, in the company of JON BITHREY, and watching SCOOCH live.


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