Brief History of the Parish
In the centuries after the Reformation there were few Catholics in this area, although at times they may have had a safe house at Thame Park, and for a while the town welcomed French priests escaping persecution during the Revolution there. At the beginning of the 20th Century there was no formal Catholic provision in Thame.
Thame was only a small market town with the main interests being farming, shop-keeping and military occupations.
On 5th January 1913 Colonel Harman Grisewood and his wife – a Catholic were able to open the Prebendal chapel at Thame as the ‘Chapel of the Holy Family’. Fr Randolph Traill was sent by the diocese to begin the mission to this area.
The Prebendal House & Chapel
The chapel within the grounds of the Prebendal House is thought to have been built around 1234, and the records of the community of prebendal priests at Thame begin in that year. Bishop Robert Grosseteste succeeded to the see of Lincoln in 1235. He was a great churchbuilder, and in the year 1241 he caused the rebuilding of the parish churches at Thame and a number of other places in his huge diocese. He may also have improved the Prebendal House and its chapel around that time. The building is still in private hands and not currently functioning as a chapel.
The original St Joseph's Church
A new church in Brook Lane was built and dedicated to St. Joseph in August 1922. Fr Traill brought the statue of St Joseph which we can see in photographs of the Prebendal chapel to the new church. In later decades further modifications were undertaken to the church to increase its capacity to meet the need of the growing Catholic Population. In 1958 the parish numbered 270 souls.
Further Expansions - 1960s
In the early 1960s St. Joseph’s Hall was built next to the Church to cater for the social needs of the Catholic population. After the 2nd World War the population of Thame started to grow rapidly as employment changed from farming to engineering — in factories large and small in the Oxford and High Wycombe areas. An industrial estate sprung up alongside the Railway Station.
Time for a new Church
The Town grew rapidly in the 1980s. Pressure in turn grew for a larger church. The original church of 1922 was demolished in January 1997. The new church commenced build in September 1996 – completed in June 1997. Many of its stained windows in the original church were preserved and restored in the new Church. The church was opened by Archbishop Couve De Murville.
The Parish Priests of St Joseph's
1913-1916 Fr. Randolf Traill
1916-1918 Served from Cowley, Oxford
1918-1938 Fr. Randolf Traill
1938-1941 Fr. Joseph Francis Rowland
1941-1958 Fr. George Watts
1958-1959 Fr. Timothy John Dinan
1959-1969 Fr. Douglas Carter
1970-1978 Fr. Philip Garrett
1978-1988 Fr. Cuthbert Bower Brown
1988-1990 Fr. Joseph McKenna
1990-1993 Fr. Hugh Thwaites S.J.
1993-2001 Fr. Christopher Marsden, O.S.A.
2001-2016 Fr. Mark Lagorio
2016-2023 – Fr. David Hartley
2023- Fr. Michael Puljic