Elms Park, Thame Oxfordshire

Friends of Elms Park was set up to help transform Elms Park into a traditional park, used by all ages, in a variety of ways. Friends of Elms Park also want to make sure that the residents of Thame are involved in its evolution into a true community space. Money raised at Music in the Park will be used to improve the park and encourage its use by all members of the community. In excess of £7,000 was raised at the 2011 event and a key priority is to provide lighting along the footpaths. Other items under consideration are the planting of flowerbeds, a children’s play areas, seating and a bandstand.

The Elms Park – A brief history

The land now known as Elms Park was originally part of The Elms, purchased by Leonard Purser in 1928. Leonard and Edith Purser first drew up the plans to present Thame with the land in 1938 but the idea was shelved for a time due to the war. They wished to provide a place for the town 'where the children could play in safety'.

The ceremony to hand over the deeds of the land to the Council took place in January 1949. In an article entitled 'Your Park: How to make "The Elms" Worthy of the Town' the Thame Gazette reported that the land was 'to be developed as a children's playground and a park where young and old can rest and take pleasure in beautiful surroundings ... Mr Purser said "To equip and maintain the park it will require your individual help that the park should be fully equipped with entrance gates, pavilion and conveniences, seats, children's games, slides, swings, paddling pools for sailing boats etc. I would like to see everybody in Thame doing something to make this park a possession to be proud of."'

The park was a gift to the town and not purchased by the Council as was incorrectly stated in a 1970s book about Thame.

A Development fund was launched in December 1949 to provide a children's playground and adults' gardens. It was reported in the Thame Gazette of 6th June 1950 that the first task of fencing off the portion of the Park from The Elms had been carried out and that a second stage of works included the major footpath across and the provision of a paddling pool and seats. A letter was sent out by Miss Fanshawe (Chairman of the Appeal Committee) in June 1951 requesting subscriptions to develop the park, an estimation of the cost of the proposed scheme at that time was £5,000. By 1951 some of the work had already been completed including: the entrance and original wrought iron gates onto Park Street donated by Leonard Purser (a model of the gates is now in the Thame Museum); public conveniences; children's paddling pool; children's shelter and some swings.

The Park was officially opened to the public by Hedley Purser (Leonard's son) on 9th June 1951 at a 'Grand Fete' as part of Thame's Festival of Britain celebrations. Events and attractions throughout the day included: a carnival, tennis tournaments (on The Elms courts), sheep dog trials, sports for children and adults, teas, fire brigade display and Olde Tyme Dancing on The Elms lawns.

Friends of Elms Park:

The committee members of the 'Friends of Elms Park' are (currently):

Alison Champken-Woods
Ossie Ross
Hilary Dollman
Michele Pethers
Alan Haigh
Cassie Pinnells - Thame Town Council
John Williscroft

The Lament of the Nesting Rook

Written when Dutch Elm Disease struck Elms Park by Thame’s celebrated poet Eric Gladwin

I’ve searched for boughs for nesting
I’ve looked my very best.
But where’s a bird to go to
When there’s not an elm tree left?

I’ve built two twig foundations.
I’ve got this bit of string.
But I need a BRANCH to set in,
Not a useless masty thing.

Grandpa says WE’RE the reason.
WE’VE not ate up the grubs.
Before our generations came,
The Rook was hard and tough!

We settled on a ferry,
But the seagulls plucked my tail.
We tried refinery chimneys,
But the gasses made us pale!

AH ---- HH ---- RR

This thing is called a “steeple”,
And the cross is bare and hard!
Should we try to grab his square nest
Off that fat fool in the yard???