The common belief is that at this time a Saxon chief called Tace, or possibly Tac or Tec, led his group up the navigable rivers Thames and Kennet as far as the ruined roman bridge. Here they probably disembarked and move some distance to the northwest where they erected a village which they called Taceham (the village of tace) on the site of the modern centre of Thatcham. However some local historians have alternative theories too including the name originating from Thæc and ham or hamm.
The Saxon village probably consisted of a collection of huts of wood or wattle and daub, roofed with thatch, the whole settlement being enclosed within a palisade fence. The inhabitants settled down to become a peaceful farming community and the village prospered, eventually being incorporated into the Saxon kingdom of Wessex.
A Royal Manor
From the foundation of the Saxon village of Thatcham until the tenth century, it was held by a succession of noblemen of whom the last was Earldorman Alfeah, the godfather of Queen Elfrith, wife of King Edgar, ‘King of all the English’. He was the great grandson of Alfred the Great. By this time, the manor of Thatcham had grown in size and importance until it was among the largest and most valuable manors in the country and the principle manor of Thatcham Hundred, the second largest of the thirty two Hundreds of Berkshire.
In the will of Alfeah, dated c.975AD, he left many bequests of land and property to religious houses, particularly the Abbeys of Bath and Malmesbury, but he left Thatcham to the King. Thus Thatcham became a royal Manor, and it remained in the hands of the crown for over one hundred fifty years.
The first church
In 634AD a Christian missionary named Birnus was sent from Rome to convert the west Saxons. After winning King Cynegils for the faith, Birinus spent several years tramping around Wessex teaching the people. It is possible that he visited Thatcham around this time and it is believed that a small place of worship was erected on the site of St. Mary’s church before 650AD.
- Proser, A. W., Thatcham through the ages, Occasional Paper Number 2, Thatcham Historical Society: Thatcham, 1979