Today a statue of the Virgin with her child in her arms looks down welcomingly on worshippers arriving at Thame’s St Mary church (pictured left), but for many years there was nothing there but an empty niche.

According to the historian Lee (1883) the original statue was partly destroyed in Edward VI’s reign (1547-1553) in that the heads of both figures were knocked off. It is not clear exactly why the statue was damaged in such a way, but it came at a time during the mid 16th century when there was a great deal of trouble at the church.

The statue was completed destroyed during the Civil War and the niche above the south porch remained empty. There was an attempt to replace her in 1897 but this was accompanied by a storm of opposition from the locals in which words like ‘idol’ and ‘heathen goddess’ were freely used (Lee 1883). Still the niche remained empty until recent years.

Inside the church a ram’s head hangs over the tomb of Sir John Clerke of Weston in the chancel.

It is said that when it hears the clock strike midnight it comes down from its perch and runs down to the river for a drink.

The Quatermain tomb in the south transept was known as the poor stone because all the goods which were to be distributed as charity were laid out on the tomb before being handed out.

From 1537 to 1559 there were no less than five different vicars. One of these, John Parker, was accused of buying counterfeit money, and in 1531 accused of using ‘seditious words’ against the King.