Thatcham in Old Photographs – 11 September 2023

A TADS talk by Dr Nick Young

Monday 11 September 2023; 8.00 pm at Heath End Village Hall, Heath End Road, Baughurst, RG26 5LU

Thatcham is truly an ancient town with archaeological finds covering every period from the Palaeolithic over 12,000 years ago, right up to today.

Thatcham Broadway is considered by many to be the historic heart of Thatcham. This is only true thanks to the Saxons who founded what we know today as Thatcham. Popular local culture has it that in the 7th century a Saxon Chief started a settlement here. The Chiefs name was Tace and this was his settlement or ham. Hence Tace’s ham which evolved over the years to become Thatcham. However, the modern name Thatcham is more likely to come from a nearby river meadow, giving us the ‘hamm’ and ‘thatch’ referring to the reed beds and not the style of roofing.

Thatcham was at the peak of its importance in the 14th century, during the reigns of the first three Edwards. In the assessment of a lay subsidy granted to King Edward III (1327 – 1377), Thatcham was classed as one of the four boroughs in Berkshire, along with Windsor, Wallingford and Reading.The borough of Thatcham at this time consisted of several streets including:

  • Duck Street leading into East Street, towards Reading – later Chapel Street
  • West Street leading towards Newbury – later High Street
  • South Street – later Broad Street and more recently known as The Broadway
  • Front Lane – later Church Lane
  • Back Lane – later Park Lane

West Street has also been known as Crown Street and Cheap Street (often written as Chip Street); the use of ‘Cheap’ highlights the retail activity of the street and may indicate that the town’s market was held there at some time. However, the market place is usually thought to have been held in South Street (The Broadway).

Dr Nick Young will describe the history of Thatcham using old photographs of the town.

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